James Hambro & Partners Complete a Citrix to AVD Migration to Reduce Complexity, Save Time and Control Costs.

Working in a Citrix environment that had become overly complex, Iain Hewitt, IT Manager at wealth management company James Hambro & Partners, sought MSP Ziptech’s expertise to migrate Citrix to Azure Virtual Desktop. The move would take them out of co-located datacentres and into a full Cloud environment in Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). Factors critical to the success of the Citrix to AVD migration project included:

  • Ensuring the smooth migration of business-critical, bespoke applications into the Cloud. The project included extensive testing and proof of concept trials.
  • Migrating 130+ users to AVD without risk of business interruption. At the same time, the London HQ was undergoing extensive remodelling and regional offices were opening.

“One of the things that continues to impress me with Ziptech is their approach to project management and the way they execute complex projects. Their whole methodology is really very good. Over the years, we have gained a level of trust in Ziptech and we know the way we work together.”

Iain Hewitt, IT Manager. James Hambro & Partners.

The advantages James Hambro & Partners now enjoy include:

  • a simplified system architecture that takes fewer resources to maintain improved performance for desktop users
  • ease of security controls and governance
  • instant scalability.

Strategic advantages of the Citrix to AVD migration

A complex environment simplified

The Citrix environment had been built and extended over many years in partnership with a previous IT service provider. The environment was co-located across two datacentres in the UK. The overheads included tenancy of the physical space, the hardware, cabling and lines, as well as the cost of sending engineers to site. Iain said,

“We realised that our current set up in Citrix no longer made strategic sense and the costs of keeping it alive were increasing. Mapping it out with Ziptech in AVD, we reduced the virtual server requirement from 70 to 14 line of business servers. And even fewer infrastructure servers. Add to that the savings we have made on the cost of two datacentres, the hardware that went with it, and the time and human intervention required to maintain it. We’ve made major improvements.”

How Migrating from Citrix to Microsoft Azure Improved performance

Trying to run Windows desktop applications in a Citrix environment can be challenging. It often requires micro level development to get a smooth user experience. Running Microsoft applications in their native Azure Virtual Desktop removes the need for adjustment and additional development. Iain explains,

“We have found that a Microsoft application like Teams or SharePoint running in the Azure environment is inherently more stable so there are fewer problems and fewer tickets. The user experience is much better.”

Instant scalability with Microsoft AVD

Comparing his experience in expanding the old Citrix environment to his experience today, Iain said,

“If we needed to grow our environment in Citrix, it would take a lot of planning and there would be costs associated with that. For example, there would be downtime for multiple systems, attending site to change hardware, often adding servers. In Azure, we push a digital button and request more space, and it’s done. The Microsoft Cloud environment that Ziptech has built for us is high availability, high capacity and you can make instant changes when you need more or less.” He added, “It makes us a lot more flexible as a business.”

Achieving the ultimate in cyber security

A big bonus for Iain is the ease at which he can reach the optimum level of cyber security the business requires. Regulated by the FCA, and with rigorous Cyber Essentials criteria to fulfil, the business prides itself in the robustness and resilience of its IT environment. It’s imperative for James Hambro & Partners that every measure possible is taken to secure their business and employees from threat or vulnerabilities.

Describing how the Citrix to AVD migration project enables them to reach these goals, Iain explains,

“Security, patching, and keeping things up to date in Citrix was resource heavy. Now, our servers that are in the Microsoft datacentre are already safeguarded under Microsoft’s security umbrella. We can be confident they are as secure as they can possibly be. That leaves us with only the desktop environment to worry about. We leverage the full Microsoft Advanced Threat Protection suite. This means that every new device is automatically enrolled to our pre-configured spec. We can spin up a new, fully-secured device very quickly.”

A Disaster Recovery Plan that you can rely on

Iain explains how the process of testing the Disaster Recovery Plan has also been simplified.

“Using the built in Microsoft Azure Disaster Recovery Service has cut out what was previously an over complicated DR startup process with much quicker restore times. As an IT Manager it gives you reassurance to know you can test this easily, as frequently as you like, and to know that it works.”

Iain also works with a 3rd party cyber security provider whose job has been simplified by working in Azure. Previously they had to install a physical machine at the datacentre. Trying to draw down analytics from it was a time-consuming but necessary manual process.

“In Azure, all of my security data and vulnerability scanning is transparent and visible in the Cloud. I have a more holistic view and it is easy to monitor. That’s due to the way Ziptech have built Azure to suit our needs,” added Iain.

Let’s take a closer look at why you should consider migration from Citrix to AVD, what the key challenges are and the benefits you are likely to enjoy.

Why You Should Move from Citrix to Microsoft Azure

Citrix is a popular solution for delivering virtual desktops and applications to remote workers. However, Citrix also comes with some drawbacks such as high costs, complexity, performance issues and security concerns. If you’re looking for a better alternative, you should consider moving your Citrix environment to Microsoft Azure.

Azure is the cloud platform of choice for many businesses, offering a range of services and features that can help you optimise your virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). In this extended article, we will explore some of the benefits that other businesses like James Hambro & Partners experience having migrated from Citrix to Azure, as well as some of the key challenges and how to overcome them.

Business advantages when you migrate from Citrix to Azure Virtual Desktop

There are many benefits of Azure Virtual Desktop vs Citrix such as:

  • Simpler OS migration and updates. You can easily upgrade to new Windows versions without maxing out network capacity or limiting the functionality of mission-critical applications.
  • Rapid elasticity for an evolving workforce. You can scale on-demand, simplifying the process of workspace deployment and avoiding over-provisioning.
  • Pay only for what you need and use on Azure. You can eliminate CAPEX and reduce OPEX by using Azure’s pay-per-use pricing model.
  • Built-in security and privacy. You can leverage Azure’s integrated security features to protect your data and applications from threats.
  • Build on the Microsoft environment you know and love. You can take advantage of the seamless integration of Microsoft products, such as Azure Virtual Desktop, Office 365, and Teams.

Challenges with your Citrix to AVD migration

Migrating from Citrix to Azure is not a trivial task. It requires careful planning, assessment and execution. Some of the challenges that you may face are:

  • Choosing the right migration method. There are different ways to migrate your Citrix VDA hosts to Azure such as using Azure Migrate, Azure VMware Solution or manual methods. You need to evaluate the pros and cons of each option and select the one that suits your needs and budget.
  • Migrating your applications and data. You need to ensure that your applications and data are compatible with Azure and that they are migrated without any loss or corruption. You also need to consider the network bandwidth, storage capacity and security requirements of your data transfer.
  • Migrating your Citrix services. You need to migrate your Citrix services such as Storefront, Gateway, Workspace Environment Manager and others to Citrix Cloud or Azure. You need to configure the connectivity, authentication, and policies of your services and ensure that they work seamlessly with your Azure VDAs.
  • Testing and validating your migration. You need to test and validate your migration before going live. You need to verify that your VDAs, applications, data and services are functioning properly and that users are happy with Azure VDI.

How to Migrate from Citrix to Azure

If you want to learn more about how to migrate your Citrix environment to Azure, you can check out our ebook, Implementing Microsoft Azure for Success.

We hope we’ve provided some additional insights into why and how to move from Citrix to Azure and achieve all the advantages that our clients James Hambro & Partners have enjoyed. If you need any assistance with your migration project, please contact us. We are a team of IT engineers and specialists in implementing Microsoft Azure for small and medium sized businesses in the UK. We can help you with your Azure deployment, management and optimisation. Just get in touch.

Additional projects and services

In addition to the re-platforming project, Ziptech has supported James Hambro and Partners through Cyber Essentials Accreditation and is now working towards Cyber Essentials Plus, then on to ISO270001. Since the migration to Azure, Ziptech provides a fully-managed IT service to James Hambro & Partners, including proactive and reactive technical support, fractional IT Management and vCTO strategic services.











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