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Case study: How does BTG provide solutions for D&H Steel?

By Contributor
Mon 18 Jan 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Agility, dynamic productivity, workplace fluidity due to superior technology and the drive to continually improve functionality are all reasons why D&H Steel, one of New Zealand’s largest steel fabricators choose to continually adopt new Citrix technologies delivered via BTG.

The BTG / D&H Steel relationship dates back to 2002. BTG support the D&H Steel values of “Our reputation is built on performance”, and seek to improve this performance by delivering new and exciting technologies. Technologies that enables the retention of talent, a real shift from the idea that technology will make us all redundant.

The Challenge

According to Mike Thompson, D&H Steel’s IT Manager, “Before we started this project we already understood the benefits of Citrix but it was starting to limit us with some of the things that we were able to deliver for our users. The key thing for us was that in construction everyone is dealing with 3D models and a lot of virtualisation which we just didn’t have the capability for on our old servers.

For example, virtual buildings – large 3D models you can shade, spin, and really get a feel for how the real thing will look – are quite powerful tools for the guys building things. We just didn’t have the capability.”

D&H Steel has a history of utilising Citrix technologies, and had previously been running a version with Windows 2003. As demand grew and technology impacted more areas of the business, they really started to see holes in their ability to work cohesively.

Flexibility for staff that worked remotely was also becoming a challenge and one that needed to be rectified with one staff member operating as far away as Chile. Functionality limitations with Windows and the versions of Internet Explorer they could run became problematic.

“As everything moves into the Cloud and every man and his dog has some sort of web portal, with the server capability we had we were starting to get shut out of various websites, even IRD and the banks – there was a risk to us being able to do our online banking.”

With staff numbers up to the 200 mark, this meant time for change.

With workplace flexibility being even more of a talking point now than ever, great technology and out of the box solutions help enable the retention of great talent, increasing output and productivity, defining the changing face of how the world does business. 

Solution & Benefits – working with BTG

July 2014 dates the inception of this project. BTG’s scope entailed; hardware design, upgrade SAN storage capability from 5Tb to 19Tb, upgrade Citrix to the new version, migrate all old applications from the old server to the new server (Windows 2008), then migrate all users across to the farm.

“What we have now is better desktop performance, a more user-friendly environment, and better workflows. The decision to go to Citrix was taken a long time ago, but it was a case of us getting current and taking advantage of some of the newer stuff that Citrix has now got. The biggie was things like 3D technology. It’s a lot more stable now. The number of issues around applications locking up or people’s Citrix sessions just hanging have dropped away to virtually nothing," says Mike.

The agility and fluidity of the D&H Steel workforce is impressive now and the ease in which people can operate from Auckland, Christchurch, Chile, or any one of the building sites has meant this technology has done its job. As long as there is a thin client they can log in and carry on business as usual.

“For our guy in Chile it’s completely seamless. He just takes his laptop with him and away he goes. There is no difference with being in the building or outside of it.”

Stability, better continuity, and greater productivity have resulted from the shift. The compression technology within Citrix means that the size of the Internet connection can be small. Remote staff can run off 3G via a basic VDSL or ADSL plan and have little or no disruption to their experience.

Desktop maintenance is almost zero, with centralised management of all applications, user policies, and profiles.

Citrix has also allowed BYOD; once the Citrix Receiver client is installed on a user’s laptop or home PC they can access their full desktop, without any reduction in performance or the risks associated with storing files on personal computers.

“There is no need for fibre and at a minimal cost I can run, say 5 guys, out of a shed somewhere and get it set up in a week.”

“Since we’ve got involved with BTG they have been on a continuous growth trajectory, they have continued to improve and adapt in what they are doing, and they are always looking for the next best thing. They don’t stand still.”

“From where I sit, I still have a direct relationship with the people doing the work. That’s one of the upsides. I can ring Mark Skinner, Operations Manager, or any one of the technicians and get a straight answer. I think they are approachable. Steve Harris, for example, is a technologist. He’s not just there to run the business and make money, he’s there because he gets it and likes to be involved.”

“It’s been a long relationship with BTG, and the positive thing is that they have been able to grow and adapt as D&H Steel and Clearwater have expanded. They have always been able to meet the challenges that we have for them.”

“I’ve spoken to other contractors that have a one-shop-stop approach. They price a job and want you to work within their framework. BTG make it work the way we want, not generically or systemized. It makes BTG’s business more complex, but they’ve drilled into the fundamentals on what makes IT systems work and focused on that.”

With large scale clients like Fletcher Construction and Hawkins, D&H Steel have to be at the top of their game… and that they are.

Technology Solutions for D&H Steel – In a nutshell

  • SAN – only had 5Tb of space, new solution has 19Tb
  • Servers with additional Graphics cards (GPU)
  • Upgrade Citrix to new version & server migration
  • Ability to view large 3D models within Citrix
  • Design of hardware infrastructure

If you would like to know more about BTG and how they can help you, click here.

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