Essar Group is a USD 27 bn Indian multinational conglomerate that employs over 60 000 people across four continents. Starting its operations as a construction company in 1969, Essar diversified into manufacturing, services and retail. Over the last four decades, it has grown through strategic global acquisitions and partnerships, or through Greenfield and Brownfield development projects, capturing new markets and discovering new raw material sources. Today, the company has a diversified and global footprint, focusing on markets in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Battling Multiple Requirements
With expanding operations, Essar realized that its existing SSL VPN solution was inadequate to meet both the current and future business needs and required a much needed ‘tech refresh’. There was a need for an updated solution with enhanced ease of usage both from the end user and IT operations perspective.
With the need defined, the company decided to look for a solution that would address multiple requirements, that included SSL VPN solution to further improve the secured remote access experience for the business users, Reverse Proxy solution to publish applications supported by WAF (Web Access Firewall) to secure the Web applications from security threats, Secured File Sharing Solution with rights management that supports mobility and also a tech refresh option for mobility security with MDM and MAM solutions.
According to Jayantha Prabhu, Group CIOEssar, Head India Business – AGC Networks, the overarching goal was to explore a solution that would support geo-redundancy in the overall architecture with optimum solution positioning, better uptime and reduced complexity.
Citrix NetScaler Comes to the Rescue as One Stop Shop Solution
As a part of the evaluation process at Essar, various technology solutions from different OEMs were considered and finally three solutions were evaluated post rigorous technical rounds of discussion with respective OEMs, including Citrix.
The NetScaler solution from Citrix emerged as the solution of choice as it aptly met Essar’s requirements in critical areas. Geo location based access was one of the biggest benefits provided by NetScaler as it would provide better availability of seamless and standardized service to end users and IT teams as well as reduce the architectural complexity of the entire backend system. Another qualifier was the extremely simple architecture that did away with the need for a complex network of multiple servers and constant application maintenance. An added benefit was the ease of capacity planning that could cater to increased sizing requirements with benefit of virtual platform.
“NetScaler promised to be a one stop shop solution to address a multitude of business requirements like Role base Access, Host Checker, NW traffic / Application monitoring. Projections also showed that Citrix would be cost effective in terms of cost savings besides reducing the carbon foot print in the datacenter in addition to bringing in architectural and operational ease,” exclaimed Prabhu.
The upgradation to NetScaler was brought into effect as a joint endeavor between Essar, Citrix and a System Integrator. The implementation, which started in January 2017 was completed by April 2017.
According to Prabhu, the specific features of NetScaler that have proven most useful are SSL VPN – for secured remote access to applications; WAF – to protect the Web Application, Reverse Proxy – to publish the critical applications over the internet; MDM & MAM – to secure the Mobile applications with containerized environment and Enterprise Appstore for securing business apps; and Share file – to share the data securely over any platform and media with proper rights management.
Improved Efficiency While Bringing Down Costs
One of the most significant benefits of adopting NetScaler has been the reduction in cost and complexity with regard to infrastructure, hardware and network costs. It has also brought in marked increase in overall IT operational efficiency as well as efficiency of the business unit staff. Some of the other benefits accrued include enhanced speed of deployment and application upgrades, improved utilization rates and business continuity.
The implementation of mobile security solution has opened up unlimited potential for Essar to have their own secured Enterprise App Store and shift various web applications into apps for different business requirements. Meanwhile, the secured file sharing capabilities allow for sharing and tracking of data.
The overall solution capabilities have enabled hassle free access to data from anywhere at any given time for Essar’s business users.
Essar initiated its journey with Citrix through the implementation of various different solution options in accordance with their business requirements, but going forward, it aims to enhance integration of Citrix solution with various other technologies within the Essar environment and further fine tune it, ensuring maximum leverage that would help optimize the solution.