Headquartered in Germany's Black Forest, Wiha Premium Tools is one of the world's leading manufacturers of precision hand tools for use in industry and skilled trades. Wiha's focus on design and innovation have been recognized with the iF product design award three years in a row, as well as the red dot design award winner in 2010. Today, more than 850 Wiha employees produce over 4.000 styles of precision tools. They have manufacturing facilities in Germany, Switzerland, Poland and Vietnam to meet the demands of customers globally.
To compete internationally as a midsized company, Wiha relies on strategic thinking, highly qualified employees and continuous modernization. The company was early to embrace virtualization as a way to react more quickly to business needs, implementing Citrix technology in the 1990s to deliver applications from its Schonach datacenter to users at its production facility in Mönchweiler, which is located more than an hour away. Over the following years, Wiha used Citrix XenDesktop to deliver virtualized desktops and applications to office workstations in its Schonach office as well. Initially, only business applications were virtualized; users requiring high computing power and rapid graphics performance, such as CAD developers responsible for 2D and 3D product design, were provided with high-performance workstations running Siemens Solid Edge and other developer tools locally. But in 2012, a new challenge emerged with plans for a new development site two hours away in Waldkirch. "The question was how to provide a CAD infrastructure in Waldkirch relatively quickly," explains Wiha IT Manager Siegried Disch. "The development of a completely independent environment would have caused high costs and considerable administrative effort, and synchronizing data regularly with the head office would have taxed the network connection enormously."
Makro Factory, the Citrix partner that helped develop Wiha's Citrix environment, worked with the company to upgrade its XenDesktop platform with HDX 3D Pro technology. "HDX 3D Pro makes it possible to provide CAD workstations as virtual desktops via the datacenter," explains Dominik Meier, Midmarket Division Manager for Makro Factory. "Citrix HDX 3D Pro uses the hardware support of graphics processors from NVIDIA on the server to speed up the rendering of complex graphics, and its compression codecs ensure good application performance when accessing CAD applications through the WAN, even with relatively narrow bandwidth." The multi-GPU pass-through function of Wiha's XenServer server virtualization platform made it possible to allocate a dedicated NVIDIA Quadro 2000 graphics card to each individual virtual machine. Developers in Waldkirch access their virtual workstations on standard PCs via Citrix Receiver.
Wiha CAD developers were quick to embrace their virtual desktops, which provided high performance as well as allowing them to use the 3D mouse from 3Dconnexion as easily as they had on locally installed PCs. "Multi-GPU pass-through combines a nearly native graphics performance with the advantages of virtualization in terms of scalability, management and availability," says Meier. "It also helped us meet our core requirement to be able to operate more than one virtualized CAD desktop per server."
No longer bound to a specific workstation, Wiha CAD developers can now work from home or on the road on a laptop with their CAD applications. Citrix Access Gateway provides secure web access to virtual desktops, using encryption to protect Wiha's proprietary data in transit. "Citrix technology opens many new options for us," explains Disch. "For example, we can recruit CAD construction specialists who live in a different city or who want to work from their home office. Freelancers and development sites abroad can also be connected simply and securely. Wherever our users work, our invaluable know-how always remains secure within our datacenter."
The Wiha Citrix environment now plays a key role in its business growth. In recent years, the company has brought many new European subsidiaries onto its desktop virtualization platform. Centralized single-image management helps the company keep all of its virtual CAD workstations up-to-date and problem-free.
In the next phase of its strategy, Wiha's IT department will virtualize the CAD workstations at in other locations as well. Automated backups of virtual desktops within the datacenter, along with the high availability function of XenServer, will further ensure uninterrupted performance. Meanwhile, the company will expand its virtualization strategy across a broader range of desktops with specialized requirements. "When we can provide even CAD workstations via the datacenter, there is little reason for us to install desktops and applications locally on endpoints. We see many additional possibilities for using Citrix virtualization technology in the future."
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