Eamon McNally is a Senior Infrastructure Consultant with Novosco. He has spent over 15 years working with Microsoft and Citrix technologies including Metaframe XP, XenApp, Netscaler, Active Directory, and Exchange, amongst others.
Eamon is an expert in the design, migration, deployment, and support of remote desktop services, and loves almost nothing as much as he loves a good cup of coffee.
Question: Explain your role with novosco, what do you do?
Eamon McNally: I work in Professional Services, and my main speciality is with Citrix technologies. I work closely with the sales and pre-sales team, to help them design Citrix solutions for our customers. Once that’s done and dusted, it’s time for implementation and that’s really where I come in. I plan and implement various Citrix solutions for our different customers. Essentially I get the infrastructure up and going, install the Citrix services, get the applications and/or desktops set up and working, get all the various clients up and running, and manage everything throughout the process.
Q: So quite a comprehensive approach then, everything and anything Citrix related?
Eamon: Exactly. Citrix usually involves all aspects of the customers infrastructure from networking to servers to the endpoint - I have to extensively document all of what I do for each customer to get the Novosco service desk involved! This means that they’re fully up to speed on the solution deployed and can support the customer end to end. When the project is successfully complete, I can then move on to the next one and leave the customer in their very capable hands.
Q: A lot of our customers use Citrix, why, what are the business benefits?
Eamon: Quite simply, Citrix allows for easier management of their applications. The customer can install all the applications in one place and then, with Citrix, all users can connect and use the applications easily. It means there is only one install and multiple users can use it, obviously depending on the Citrix licenses.
It also means there’s only one place to upgrade. Everything is centralised and held in either one datacentre, or depending on the size of the customer, multiple datacentres.
From a security perspective, it’s easier to prevent data loss. With BYOD, a user can access the Citrix environment but can’t copy data. So the customer can set specific policies depending on their business requirements, but still allow their users the flexibility to basically work from anywhere, with everything they need.
Q: And talk to me about UniDesk, or Citrix App Layering as it is now. I see this being used more and more.
Eamon: Yes, Citrix App Layering is what we’re currently rolling out in Village Hotel Club, my current project.
Basically it’s a product which splits the OS, platform and applications into layers. When we want to create an image for a desktop or server we then select the layers that we want and App layering bundles them altogether for us. Where I said previously that the customer has one install and then can upgrade, well the layering process made possible by Citrix App Layering makes that even more efficient.
So for instance, there is an Operating System layer, meaning when there are security updates, it is applied to that layer and then rolled it out to all of the images.
There can be a platform layer, which is for all the drivers and hypervisors, then there are the application layers.
Layering takes the management approach to another level, when updates or changes only need to be done on the OS, the application or whichever layer is needed then rolled out to all.
Q: So it’s simplifying what could be a quite complicated process?
Eamon: Exactly, it vastly reduces the resource needed. Everything can be done in the one place, and one time only, and then it is rolled out across the entire estate, rather than having to do something multiple times, depending on your environment.
Q: So is that the biggest development or innovation in what you do over the last couple of years?
Eamon: It’s actually cloud adoption. Citrix is now moving to the cloud, and App Layering can be managed from the Citrix Cloud Platform. But App Layering is definitely the greatest leap in technology that Citrix have provided in the last few years, for sure.
Q: How has the adoption of the Citrix Cloud Platform by existing customers been? I assume if you’re already using Citrix, you’re already on-board with the concepts of BYOD, remote-access, security, etc, so cloud adoption is the next natural step?
Eamon: It is. It depends on the client base though. It really depends on the customer and their requirements, Office 365 being cloud based has really given an impetus to organisations, with the mindset of, ‘well, if we can use Office 365 on the Citrix Cloud Platform, what else can we look to move there?’
Q: With your role, sometimes you’re in the office, more often than not though, you’re nowhere to be seen?
Eamon: I’m on site a lot, there’s no specific desk that is my own – I work from home very often too, but I still like to come in to the office as often as I can. It’s good to get in and get engaged with the events and colleagues.
There’s so many great elements to the company, the social events, the facilities, like the gym, the VR suite and consoles. Everyone knows each other, even though we’ve a lot of staff and are still growing; we get to all bond around some great coffee! A problem I have, when I’m in the office, is that by the end of the day, I’m speaking at 100mph, because of all the caffeine!
Q: How has Novosco been for you, in your remote working?
Eamon: They’ve made it as smooth as possible for me, the Skype for Business set up is fantastic, it helps to keep in touch with everybody – and in general, anything I need to get the job done well, I’m supported in. We also use Citrix, so it’s really easy to access everything I need from wherever I am!