Success Story: Hassell – Real-Time Global Collaboration

Empowering Real-Time Global Collaboration

HASSELL is an award-winning Australian design firm with international successes, ranging from hospitals and educational facilities to airports, sporting complexes and conference centres. With nearly 1,000 staff in 14 studios across Australia, China, South East Asia and the United Kingdom, Hassell enjoys a global reputation for quality, innovation and sustainable design.

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The Challenge

With expert staff located around the globe, one of Hassell’s key challenges was the ability to collaborate on key projects, without the expense and inconvenience of travel and relocation. The company was seeking a solution that would enable staff to collaborate on design projects across any of its 14 locations, effectively allowing the organisation to operate as a single design studio.

Hassell’s vision of seamless, real-time collaboration – anywhere, anytime – was made more challenging by the fact that the complex and highly detailed architectural designs its team creates in AutoCAD and Revit are extremely resource-intensive, demanding significant computing power and network bandwidth to render and transmit the massive files.

The company wanted to improve utilisation of its hardware investment while freeing up staff to work on projects from outside their office, irrespective of their hardware platform.

The Solution

Hassell partnered with Cloud Solutions Group (CSG) back in 2011 to rationalise and consolidate its IT infrastructure as a first step towards realising its collaboration goals.

According to Hassell’s Head of Technology, Tom Leyden, the initial project dramatically reduced hardware costs while providing a streamlined and efficient platform for future developments. Now, CSG is helping them to take it to the next level.

“We realised that in order to achieve our full objectives, we also had to unlock staff from their physical desktop,” he explained. “We went to the market to see what was available and CSG recommended Citrix Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Using the Citrix Xendesktop 7.1 and NetScaler Access Gateways, we can provide staff with remote access to a graphics-accelerated VDI environment that opens up new opportunities for collaboration.”

Since Citrix has only developed these advanced graphics capabilities over the past six months, Tom said Hassell has grasped the opportunity to lead the way by becoming the first architectural firm in the Asia Pacific Region to take advantage of the new platform. CSG and Hassell have now completed a proof-of-concept across the company’s studios in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, eliciting an extremely positive response from staff.

“Sometimes when you roll out a technology solution, people feel like it’s being done to them, but not in this case. This is one of those rare projects where people really want the technology and are genuinely excited about what it will enable them to do,” Tom said.

“As a result of this implementation, we currently have health experts in Melbourne and Adelaide collaborating on designs for a new public works project. In the past this would have required extensive travel and coordination, but now they can work wherever they want using our distributed design network and the real-time access with advanced version control, allows them to work as efficiently as if they’re in the same office. The next step is to roll the platform out to our remaining offices around the world, extending the benefits across the entire organisation,” he said.

Since the Citrix software is so new, Hassell struggled to find people in the Australian market with the right skill set, but Tom said their partners at CSG were happy to invest in developing the expertise needed to ensure a successful outcome.

“CSG has been great, not only in designing the ideal solution for our needs, but also in recognising an opportunity to establish a competitive advantage and rapidly skilling up in a technology where no one else has local expertise, They’ve certainly integrated well with our team and been very responsive in driving the outcomes and doing everything necessary to ensure a successful result,” he said.

Not only does the Citrix solution implemented by CSG improve hardware utilisation while enhancing staff productivity and satisfaction, but the integration of Amazon Web Services and Panzura cloud storage ensures the highest levels of performance, regardless of the hardware platform being used.

“Our staff can now work from the office, their home, a client site or even a mobile device, enabling us to make the most of individual skill sets to maximise project design outcomes,” said Tom.

The Future

With the proof-of-concept an unqualified success and the global roll-out to all staff due to be completed by the end of this year, Tom is now turning his attention to the company’s project partners.

“A major project like a hospital or conference centre requires us to work closely with many external parties like builders and engineers. So we’re now starting to open up our platform for collaboration with our partners, beginning with a major project in Sydney,” he said.

“In the past this would have involved integrating a lot of different software programs, but now we simply provide access to our platform on a fee for service basis and all the key players can collaborate, representing a significant value-add for the project.”

Key Benefits

  • Real-time collaboration between staff in any studio
  • Remote access from studios, home or client offices via any platform
  • Secure access to data protects Hassell’s intellectual property
  • Redundant architecture ensures fail-safe performance
  • Reliable backups and fast access to archived data
  • Reduced IT management, storage and hardware costsReliable backups, fast access to archived data

Technology Used

  • Citrix Virtual Desktop Infrastructure with Xendesktop 7.1 and
  • „„Citrix NetScaler VPX200 Access Gateways
  • „„Amazon Web Services
  • Panzura Cloud Storage
  • „„CommVault Simpana 9.0
  • „„Dell R720 servers
  • „„nVidia GPUs and SSD Storage
  • „„VMware vSphere 5.0CommVault Simpana 9.0

Solution Areas

  • Desktop Virtualisation
  • Cloud Storage
  • „„Mobility and Collaboration
  • „„Secure Remote Access