The real estate service company berlinovo has its IT infrastructure centralized and virtualized in order to efficiently and consistently provide distributed enterprise and external users with applications. With the introduction of an enterprise mobility solution based on XenMobile, the company has even gone one step further:The IT department can now support a wide variety of mobile access scenarios - without compromising the protection of sensitive corporate data.
Berlinovo mbH (berlinovo) is a Berlin based real estate company focused on core competencies in asset, property and fund management. Founded in 2006 as BIH, today berlinovo manages a portfolio of 24 real estate funds with a total of 550 objects. The homes and commercial properties currently invested in are approximately 97,5 percent owned by Land Berlin. berlinovo stands for innovation and adaptability, for entrepreneurial vision and responsibility. In 2012, the company had its complex corporate structure and task portfolio radically simplified and reorganized.
In recent years the company's IT organization focused its relocation strategy in order to supply the different divisions as efficiently as possible with information technology. The provision of business applications has been consistently centralized. Since 2005, together with partner JAEMACOM, the IT department has gradually built and operated a Citrix infrastructure with some 60 different applications. Today, not only the nine locations of berlinovo in Berlin and other German states, but also numerous internal and external users distributed throughout Germany, rely on this environment.
“We have migrated to Citrix XenApp to operate all important business applications in our data center,” says Torsten Wolf, Team Head of IT Infrastructure at berlinovo. ”Thus we are able to run the applications very easily, for our own employees, and also make that accessible for lawyers, brokers and third party administrators at each site.” Most internal users at berlinovo now reflect their complete IT workstation as a shared desktop on the Citrix environment - the vast majority of existing PCs could be replaced by low-maintenance thin clients. Via the Citrix infrastructure, external users receive targeted access to selected applications. "A big advantage of the solution is that we never have to worry about the client hardware on the spot," says Torsten Wolf. "Whether the real estate agent is working with a Windows PC or an Apple notebook is no problem for us. With Citrix Receiver, we can support practically any platform."
Citrix NetScaler protects all access from outside the corporate network. Two redundant Citrix appliances in the data center encrypt all communication with Web access. In addition, access for external users is through a multi-step authentication, software token based process.
When designing the infrastructure, berlinovo put great emphasis on efficient manageability. The IT partner JAEMACOM therefore planned the XenApp infrastructure, from the outset, as a virtualized environment and implemented the additional provisioning technology from Citrix. All 40 virtual XenApp servers now boot from a central master image - new applications, updates and patches need to be installed only once. The necessary software testing and rollout of new productive images accepts JAEMACOM under an automated change management process. Once the service provider, based on the requirements of the IT department, has the master image adapted by berlinovo, it is sufficient to reboot in order to bring all 40 servers up to date.
Together with JAEMACOM, the migration of Citrix XenApp 6,5 was performed on Citrix XenDesktop 7,1 at the end of 2013. "There were two main reasons for the change to the new platform," explains Torsten Wolf. "On the one hand we wanted to shared desktops and individual applications and also provide complete virtual desktops with additional usage rights available - for example, for software developers. Secondly, we promised further simplification in the administration of the area from the switch to the new FlexCast management architecture of Citrix."
"The big advantage of the new management architecture is that the most important administrative and support functions are concentrated in only two consoles," adds Matthias Jaekel, CEO of JAEMACOM. "This structure was perfect for the requirements of berlinovo: We are promoting any changes to the environment - such as the publication of new applications - as a service via the Citrix XenDesktop Studio. The support team at berlinovo uses the Citrix console Director for daily help desk and operational tasks."
In Citrix Director IT staff of berlinovo may, among other things, reflect user sessions for support and retrieve plenty of information on the utilization and performance of each XenApp server. Real-time monitoring, based on the integrated Citrix EdgeSight technology, significantly simplifies day-to-day troubleshooting. When interpreting longer-term performance trends and developments that are relevant for capacity planning, berlinovo and JAEMACOM work closely.
"The decision early on to switch to the new Citrix solution architecture was definitely right for us," concludes Torsten Wolf. "With virtual applications and virtual desktops, we can now provide a unified environment without having to operate any duplication of effort. The consolidation of various administrative tasks in two consoles simplifies our work tremendously. "
In parallel with the migration to the XenDesktop, the partners also realized another major project: the introduction of an enterprise-wide solution for Enterprise Mobility Management. The background for this initiative was the growing number of executives and sales representatives who want to use mobile devices to access corporate e-mail, business documents and business applications.
When choosing and deciding, the IT team was interested, amongst other things, in the handling of administration during operations: "We quickly realized that we don’t just need a solution to bring certificates and security settings to mobile devices. Our job is also to assign mobile applications to users and to decide, in detail, what the users are allowed to do with them - and what not."
The IT department decided after an intensive evaluation phase, to also rely on Citrix technology in this challenge. With XenMobile, Citrix provides an integrated solution for Enterprise Mobility Management, which covers both the subject mobile device management, as well as allowing an efficient and manageable granular Mobile Application Management. In addition, the solution includes WorxMail, WorxWeb and Share File with ready to use and secure solutions for e-mail communication, web access and data exchange.
The introduction of XenMobile was carried out in several steps. Together with JAEMACOM, berlinovo first of all implemented the components for the management of the company's mobile devices. It now uses the solution to securely manage around 40 iPads and more than 100 iPhones centrally and consistently. XenMobile allows role-based security settings on all mobile devices and deploy automatic locking on non-compliant devices, such as smartphones Jailbreak.
With the blacklisting feature of the solution, berlinovo ensures that users won’t install any potentially dangerous apps on mobile devices. "We don’t want users to take the fun from your terminal and therefore allow them, deliberately, to download their own apps," says Torsten Wolf. "However, if a user installs an app that is on our blacklist -such as Dropbox or WhatsApp - the system is immediately notified and uninstalls it. Otherwise, the e-mail account of the user will be blocked on your tablet or smartphone."
The commissioning of new terminals is designed to be extremely easy with XenMobile. Users will receive a link to Citrix App Worx Home and only need to enter their user data after installation. The appropriate security settings are then downloaded automatically to the terminal on the basis of the respective user permissions in the Active Directory. Within the enrollment, XenMobile also links users to all mobile apps that they need for their tasks. These include the secure e-mail and calendar app, WorxMail, and secure web browser, WorxWeb. Public applications in the XenDesktop environment - such as the Microsoft Office applications - appear as icons on the terminal and can be started immediately.
In practice the combination of XenMobile, the IT department, and the users opens up numerous new possibilities. Thus, for example, a berlinovo employee with WorxWeb while on the move, has secure access to the corporate intranet. The use of WorxMail ensures that business e-mails, contacts and appointments in encrypted form are stored on the mobile device.
In addition, the XenMobile MDX technology provides the ability to operate any business apps in protected containers on the terminals. "There are many situations in which our employees require mobile access to our applications data," explains Torsten Wolf. “berlinovo starts with the use of the solution for the corresponding business apps, and the central applications from the DMS and ERP environment. We can aid these business processes with XenMobile because the app is encapsulated securely on the device and the communication with our central platform via a Micro-VPN."
For example, to prepare OS | mobileDMS for deployment on XenMobile, JAEMACOM used the Worx App SDK from Citrix. The toolkit added the technical specialists and the MDX Library Citrix added to the application. Thus, the IT department of berlinovo can now define and enforce specific security settings for this business app. The MDX technology allows you, for example, to prescribe a regular password entry, to prevent copying of content in personal apps and to delete the contents of the app-container with the loss of the targeted terminal. "Also following the same pattern, any other mobile apps for secure business applications can be configured," explains Matthias Jaekel.
The IT department of berlinovo is extremely pleased with the comprehensive capabilities of the Enterprise Mobility solution: "Our employees can now do a lot more business tasks with their mobile devices - and we, as IT, are very quickly able to make new applications available. With the solution between professional and personal apps and data, an acceptable separation can be achieved, which can be configured and used regardless of the device."
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