Desktop as a Service

Virtualizing the CAD desktop for an enriched design experience

Continental’s engineering team utilizes Desktop as a Service to drive efficiency and promote a more secure and high-performing desktop environment

Continental Motors Group partnered with Versiant to deliver a cloud-based DaaS solution that could support the intense and complex computing needs of its engineering team. The centrally managed solution virtualizes the CAD environment to provide employees with a more efficient and secure design experience. Regardless of their location, engineers have on-demand access to the data and powerful software needed to perform their jobs.

  • Centralized deployment improves efficiency of engineers
  • Single desktop image promotes a consistent CAD environment whether onsite or remote
  • Secure connection protects the integrity of proprietary information

Complex CAD environment challenges IT

Continental Motors Group, a world leader in the development of aviation products, had recently undergone a major IT transformation. Working with Versiant Corporation, a North Carolina-based IT services provider, the company migrated its on-premise IT infrastructure to the cloud and implemented a desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution for its office staff and manufacturing floor employees.

While its engineering team experienced many of the same challenges that the office staff and manufacturing floor teams endured prior to the DaaS implementation, the company was not prepared to roll this solution out to engineering given the cost and complexity of its applications and hardware. However, Continental came to recognize that DaaS could offer the engineering department the same level of efficiency, productivity and security it provided these groups.With the traditional desktop model, engineering software was installed directly on the workstations. When an issue occurred, users had no choice but to wait idly as IT resolved the problem. Given the multifaceted needs of these systems and their applications, as well as the intense configuration requirements necessary to produce their high-end graphics, supporting and rebuilding these workstations was challenging and time-consuming.

The existing solution also posed some risks when working off-site. The team used a VPN connection to remotely connect to the corporate server. This exposed the organization to potential security threats if the laptop was not secure. Additionally, to conduct an off-site demo, engineers had to download drawings and other proprietary information directly onto their laptops. This jeopardized the safety of Continental’s data if the laptop was lost, stolen or damaged.

The VPN connection also impacted productivity as the large, dense graphics and CAD files saturated bandwidth, impacting upload and download speeds and frustrating users.

Centralized desktop image strengthens productivity and security

When it came time to refresh its engineering team’s workstations, Continental took the opportunity to implement DaaS for this user base, leaning on Versiant to design and execute the solution.

“The continued and proven success of DaaS for our office staff and manufacturing team made the decision to roll it out to our engineering team an easy one,” said Rhett Ross, CEO at Continental Manufacturing Group. “We were ready to infuse this level of efficiency, productivity and security into our CAD environment.”

To normalize the engineering desktop environment, Versiant moved the necessary applications and compute from individual computers to a centralized server in the cloud. Given the complex CAD environment—including intense software and large CAD files that can be sensitive to network disruptions and multiple users working in parallel—devising and implementing the solution required a highly iterative process. Versiant was mindful of the intricacies and networking requirements when developing the image to ensure a consistent, high-performing and resilient experience that met the unique needs of the engineering community.

The unified desktop image provides enhanced control over the engineering IT landscape, allowing Continental to more agilely perform updates, apply patches, troubleshoot issues and reconfigure the environment without impacting end users.

DaaS also allows Continental to enforce how renderings and other information are stored to improve accessibility and encourage collaboration. This also ensures information is properly backed up, managed and maintained, allowing Continental to quickly restore the environment from a centralized backup should an issue arise. The infrastructure also quickly scales to provide CAD users with a performance and speed that is consistent with the in-office experience.

By replacing the VPN connection with a direct, secure Citrix VDI connection, DaaS improves the security and performance of remote logons, and allows Continental’s engineers to seamlessly move between on-premise and off-premise locations without threatening the safety of the environment. The centralized solution also allows Continental to establish more granular security controls, limiting access to particular documents or applications and allowing the company to tailor its security protocols based on individual use cases or group needs.

Enhanced performance, in and out of the office

Versiant’s DaaS solution enriches Continental’s engineering team’s desktop experience. Users have ready access to the software, tools and high-density graphics they need from any computer, at any location. This improves their mobility, allowing them to easily conduct off-site demos without downloading the information they need onto their laptops. Instead, users can securely access applications and data via the secure Citrix connection with the same performance, security and speed as if they were in the office.

With engineering drawings and proprietary information stored on the centralized server—rather than on individual workstations—Continental delivers a more robust level of data integrity and eliminates the threat of data loss if a PC is lost, stolen or damaged. DaaS’ centralized location also enables employees to access printers and other assets from any computer for further efficiency and ease of workflow.

By addressing issues and updates from a single location, the IT team eliminates time-consuming, inefficient trips to individual desktops and allows the engineering team to continue to work uninterrupted. Because software and data are virtualized, Continental can quickly switch out failing hardware with another PC or thin client to keep the team working. This agility is crucial in improving work efficiencies and productivity.

“DaaS allows us to optimize our productivity, even under adverse conditions,” said Rhett Ross. “When our office lost power, our engineering team was able to easily transition to a work-from-home environment without impacting output or risking security.”
In addition to the cost-efficiencies of improved productivity, this solution eliminated the need to purchase new, expensive PC towers. Instead, Continental was able to reuse its existing PCs to access the desktop environment.

DaaS also delivered some forward-looking benefits for Continental. The mobility of the solution expands its talent pool from regional to global and improves its ability to attract and retain talent. This is an important competitive advantage as today’s workforce—especially millennials—seek out opportunities for more flexible work environments.

Ultimately, the DaaS solution has transformed the engineering department, offering a flexible work environment that delivers the performance, security and accessibility to drive productivity and strengthens Continental’s future.

“DaaS allows us to optimize our productivity, even under adverse conditions. When our office lost power, our engineering team was able to easily transition to a work-from-home environment without impacting output or risking security.”

Chris Kline, Global Director, Information Technology

Continental Motors Group