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Leon Hughes, Head of technology at Activ Technology, gives an insight into how organisations have adapted to working remotely with intelligent infrastructure during the COVID-19 crisis

I’ve encountered many challenges throughout my career and thought I had witnessed more than most. Everything ranging from technical, logistical, commercial and political issues. It is, however, safe to say that the events of the last few weeks have no parallel. Some of the things I have witnessed have been simply staggering.

Activ Technology is now into its sixth week of working from home. To safeguard the wellbeing of our own staff, we made a business decision to work remotely two weeks prior to the UK lockdown. Our agility was key to this being a success. Staff were informed on Friday and by the Monday morning our entire workforce including the support desk became home based. To some this seemed like quite an ask, but the disaster recovery strategy we had in place meant we were ready. On Monday morning Activ was taking calls, providing support and deploying solutions remotely and on Cloud infrastructure transparently to customers. We access our systems securely using Citrix technology and communicate using both Microsoft Teams and our Mitel telephony solution that can be used from anywhere.

Working in IT, adaptability and customer care is key. Every client is different and many have bespoke needs. During this crisis we have had to arrange out of hours support for the social care sector and deployed technology to clients that had not previously had any need to work remotely. Some customers have had infrastructure with capacity to handle the extra burden while others have extended into Cloud infrastructure, allowing new ways of working without any need for Activ to attend site.

Many organisations have taken advantage of Microsoft Office 365. This offers cloud-based software as a service and products such as Exchange online, Teams and SharePoint amongst others. Smaller organisations have been able to work using this technology exclusively. Others have leveraged it with supporting technologies and other Cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Citrix Cloud.

As a Citrix Service provider and Citrix Silver Solutions Advisor, Activ is able to offer the full complement of Citrix Cloud and on-premis products. For our smaller customers this ‘Thin Client’ centric technology has helped enable users’ access to their office PCs remotely. For larger customers we’ve transformed remote working capability, providing solutions that perform exactly as they would when in the office.

Prior to joining Activ, I designed and built environments supporting thousands of users with this technology for both onsite and remote use. Scaling things down to support SMEs has proven particularly beneficial. Even more so during the challenges we are now facing.

For organisations who need a secure way to protect sensitive information with almost any application or requirement whilst working remotely, we can help ensure a consistent high-performance experience. The right mix of design choices can however be critical, particularly for those working towards compliance for Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials Plus.

Our experienced technical team has the knowledge required to deploy these technologies in key verticals such as legal, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, retail, hospitality and education. As with most things, badly implemented infrastructure won’t perform or work as it should. Citrix is certainly no exception and appropriate experience with the technology is paramount.

As an organisation, we really have worked tirelessly and around the clock during what has certainly been a very challenging time. I am extremely proud of what the team here at Activ have achieved. Many of our staff have gone beyond the call of duty and without question. Everyone has embraced the challenges at hand to ensure we have been able to operate seamlessly during these historical times. This wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our most important asset – our people.

Image from left to right: Managing Director, Ian Gillespie, Head of Technology, Leon Hughes, Finance Director, Michael Hearns

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