South African financial services company Stanlib is working with Nutanix to secure additional nodes that enable the organisation to provide virtual desktops to employees that have been required to work from home during the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in the country.
South Africa saw hard and fast Level Five lockdown restrictions being implemented in late March 2020, leading to all but essential service businesses having to close through to the end of April.
However, being in the financial services sector required Stanlib to maintain trading conditions while prioritising the safety of its employees, resulting in the business enabling a host of employees to work from home. With little to no warning of the government’s intentions, Stanlib had to quickly find a practical solution that would support this move and allow employees access to their applications securely.
“Fortunately, having just completed a significant Nutanix roll out, which has seen 95% of Stanlib’s production environment being run on the Nutanix platform,” says Dipesh Nagar at Stanlib. “We did not have to reinvent the wheel but rather identify how best to introduce new nodes to expand on our current capability. Ease of use and scalability were key considerations.
“Additionally, the ability to run Citrix as securely as possible given the governance requirements around data management had to be ensured throughout the process.”
With Citrix being a group standard across Stanlib, the Nutanix environment had to enable users to have millisecond access to their applications.
The guaranteed performance was a business priority. One of the advantages of the Nutanix infrastructure is that Stanlib can expand on its existing enterprise cloud environment, which it uses for crucial business applications to deliver these to its work from home users.
The scaling out of Stanlib’s existing private Nutanix cloud was a straightforward process, didn’t require a significant investment of resources on new equipment, and it repurposed the hardware it already had in place for Citrix Hosted Shared Desktops and a remote work offering.
Subsequently, Stanlib has grown its 20 node Nutanix environment to now encompass 26 nodes still running Acropolis Ultimate Edition including Prism Central while now also having Citrix solutions in place. The advantages of being able to access VDI infrastructure are significant.
Not only does this result in a simplified IT environment, but it also increases security that is mission-critical for Stanlib. Employees can remain productive wherever they are and can still access essential information, products, and services from the datacentre just as if they were sitting in the office.
“Nutanix has positioned us strongly to evolve as the world changes and to be able to meet any changes in an agile manner,” says Nagar. “This enables Stanlib to deliver high-quality customer service irrespective of what is happening in terms of the lockdown.
“While it is difficult to predict what the future work environment will look like once we have moved past the COVID-19 pandemic, using Nutanix has given Stanlib the peace of mind we need that we can reliably and securely meet any requirement.
“The scalability of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform makes future growth virtually limitless, and we can plan for any scenario while still delivering the business continuity and disaster recovery aspects so essential for the financial services market.”
“As a longstanding customer and early adopter of Nutanix, Stanlib has always set the bar in embracing change and being able to adapt their systems to the needs of the business,” says Paul Ruinaard, regional sales director at Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The speed of completion and the agility with which it was done stands as a testament to the importance Stanlib place on IT functioning as a business enabler. They are one of only a few financial services companies that were able to effect this change as quickly as they did and as a result, ensure business continuity throughout the lockdown.”
Considering how access to sensitive data has become a target for increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, being able to leverage Citrix in a high available Nutanix environment enables Stanlib to provide the right level of access based on each employee’s location, device, and several other factors. Today, irrespective of whether a remote worker accesses the Stanlib environment from a desktop, laptop or tablet, Nutanix and Citrix deliver the response times required to remain as productive as possible with no impact on the employee experience.