Egyptian construction firm uses Citrix NetScaler to drive security and network performance for office and remote staff
Orascom Construction Limited is a leading global engineering and construction contractor focused on infrastructure, industrial and high-end commercial projects in the Middle East, North Africa, the US, and the Pacific Rim. The Group, which employs over 50 000 worldwide, is involved in major infrastructure projects including the largest gas-fired, combined cycle power plants in the world and Egypt’s first public-private partnership, the New Cairo Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Successful delivery of complex projects requires secure communication and collaboration between staff, wherever they are. Tamer Safwat, IT Network and Communications Manager, explains, “We have a lot of branch offices and people on project sites who need access to information and apps.”
Orascom already used Citrix XenApp to virtualize core applications like Oracle ERP and Primavera project software. Microsoft Skype for Business, on employees’ laptops, is central to the firm’s operations: “We use all of Skype’s capabilities: video, voice, conferencing, desktop sharing, and file transfer,” says Safwat. “But performance was often an issue due to environ-mental factors at some project sites that limited internet connectivity.”
To make the best of weak connectivity, effective load balancing was essential. Orascom used the Cisco ACE device but this was reaching end of life and, with no replacement, Cisco recommended customers to migrate to Citrix NetScaler. The Cisco device was increasingly difficult to configure for new applications and reporting of network traffic was poor.
To be sure they selected the best solution for their needs, Safwat and his team evaluated all of the leading, enterprise-grade, load-balancing solutions. They decided to replace the aging ACE solution with a pair of Citrix NetScaler MPX 8010 devices.
High performance video conferencing and collaboration over low bandwidth
Orascom now enjoys better collaboration and faster decisions; essential for delivering large, complex projects. NetScaler now load-balances Microsoft Exchange and Skype for Business, as well as virtualised applications, improving performance and user experience.
“NetScaler optimises available bandwidth,” Safwat explains. “Even when it is very limited, staff can still access their apps and collaboration tools. Our employees are very happy with the performance, stability, and high availability of the service.”
Security plus flexibility
Orascom is involved in projects across the public and private sectors. Security is a top concern and the company had to balance this with mobile employees’ need for flexibility.
Safwat explains, “Many of our employees are mobile users, connecting from project sites. NetScaler gives them flexibility of access. Whether they are at head office, a project site, or travelling anywhere, staff can use a secure connection to access their applications. This is very important for us: security, but at the same time, flexibility.”
Simple admin and cross-system visibility
“We chose NetScaler instead of the competing products because of its simplicity of administration, its scalability and security,” Safwat says. “NetScaler gives us much better visibility of important issues like traffic flow, how applications are utilised, where the bottlenecks are and the health of servers. And, administration to resolve any issues is very simple. The result is more efficient load-balancing and better performance for end-users.”
A project-driven business needs to be agile, scaling its systems up or down to meet demand and avoiding unecessary fixed cost. But, as Safwat explains, “NetScaler makes it very easy to scale, or to upgrade our hardware by simply purchasing another licence. That wasn’t the case with other solutions.”
In summary, Safwat says: “Citrix is the market leader in application delivery with high performance WAN optimisation and information security. We are looking forward to even greater engagement with Citrix and taking advantage of NetScaler’s more advanced features."