Red Cross Asylum Department - Humanity in practice

Red Cross billeting asylum seekers and operates the majority of the Danish asylum centers. Red Cross Asylum Department works to provide asylum seekers with a safe, meaningful and dignified wait while their applications are being processed by the authorities. Asylum Department has no financial interest in the work, but will have an annual appropriation from the state, depending on the number of asylum seekers in the operation of the centers. The fund's economy is separate from the Red Cross' other activities.

The Challenge: 1,000 Mac workstations 

Ibrahim El-Khatib is head of IT in the Red Cross Asylum Department. When he got there in 1998, the Red Cross Asylum Department one of the largest Mac installations around 1,000 workstations.

"We share many documents with the outside world, and it was very difficult when we used Mac and authorities, such as immigration authorities, municipalities, etc., used Windows. It took a long time and often went wrong," says Ibrahim El-Khatib.

During 2000, the Red Cross, a working party looked at a new solution, which allows as much hardware as possible to be re-used and it was easy to share data with others.

The Solution: A centralized Citrix solution with Macs as clients 

Following a major preparatory work in terms of research and workshops in the Working Group Red Cross decided they need a central Citrix solution.

"We were in the air with the solution in 2002. The engine of the system was Citrix MetaFrame XP, which allowed us to reuse our 1,000 Mac workstations. Here is where we began our journey with Citrix," says Ibrahim El-Khatib.

Within the solution, there was a considerable amount of preparation: The entire 1.4 million documents had to be converted from Mac to Windows format, so that the information remained available. This work took two student assistants 1½ months.

"The vast majority of users were happy following the change - partly because they were accustomed to the Windows platform, and partly because they got a lot of trouble when they would exchange information with the authorities. But we had to shut down some facilities, which created some frustration initially."

Along the way, the Red Cross Asylum Department made various upgrades to continuously benefit from technological developments. They come from Citrix MetaFrame XP via Presentation Server and AppEdition 7.1. Citrix XenApp 7.5.

"We are very pleased with the new solution that has solved some of the challenges that users found annoying earlier: Streamed audio works well now, and it has been rapidly opening attachments and sending documents to the printer," says Ibrahim El- Khatib.

Firewall and secure remote access to internal and external users

Besides the central Citrix solution, the Red Cross Asylum Department implemented NetScaler used partly as a firewall and partly to create secure remote access.

"Through NetScaler our own employees can access systems and data safely. But it is also important for the four municipalities in Denmark which are themselves responsible for asylum applications. Even if they solve the tasks rather than allowing the Red Cross to do it, it is important for them to be able to use our EHR system. This provides a uniform procedure. External users in the municipalities gain secure remote access via NetScaler, and in addition to accessing the data and systems via a special XenApp 6.5 solution with us," explains Ibrahim El-Khatib.

Key Benefit

Cost-effective, secure and centralized solution 

"In general, Citrix has given us a solution which initially saved us a lot of money because we could recycle all our old Mac workstations, which gave us a better opportunity to cooperate with the authorities. In addition, provides a central solution with great advantages in terms of security and management.

"We think we've got a really good solution that is also cost effective. Red Cross Asylum Department driver worked with appropriations from the state, so it's important to us that we use our financial resources efficiently and responsibly," concludes Ibrahim El-Khatib.

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We share many documents with the outside world, and it was very difficult when we used Mac and authorities, such as immigration authorities, municipalities, etc., used Windows. It took a long time and often went wrong.
- Ibrahim El-Khatib

Head of IT

Red Cross Asylum Department


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