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Since the early 2000s, Renasant Bank has been on a path of growth, acquiring financial institutions to grow its footprint in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. Despite that growth, the IT department has not needed to add to its headcount. Adam Archer, senior vice president and director of infrastructure at Renasant Bank, credits that stability on its investment in Citrix Systems Inc.
It's a relationship that started with Presentation Server, which eventually became known as Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. The bank, per Archer, uses the app and desktop delivery platform to maintain security, provide work-at-home flexibility to its employees and bring on new users in an easy-to-manage fashion.
In this Q&A, Archer spoke of the bank's long relationship with Citrix -- one that started before he came to Renasant 14 years ago -- and how evolving technology has kept up with changing IT needs.
How has virtualization helped Renasant Bank over the years?
Adam Archer: One of the biggest benefits has been the ability … to grow … without increasing our [IT] staff. During each [acquisition] -- whether [we're onboarding] 10 locations or 50 locations -- we were able to onboard those users using Citrix ... without having to increase staff.
What Citrix products does Renasant Bank use, and how have they helped you?
Archer: We use XenApp and XenDesktop [now called Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops]. With XenApps, we still use traditional published desktops; that's worked really well for us. For the users where that isn't a good fit, we utilize XenDesktop to meet those needs.
Without a doubt, it's been a huge benefit. With our typical office location, we just have a thin client, a router and a switch. There are no servers or anything like that, which we would have to manage remotely. Everything comes back to our data centers. Without being able to manage it that way, our [IT] staff would have to be substantially larger. We could not manage it with the staff we have … there's just no way.
As a bank, security is a top priority. How has Citrix changed things in that respect?
Archer: [Similarly] to the scalability [benefits]. Without having to have data stored at the branches, we don't have to worry about managing those servers remotely -- everything's centralized.
Over the years, have you considered other products, or have you been comfortable with your current setup?
Archer: Yes and yes. We definitely keep our eyes open to other technologies out there. Every time we do that, because of the investment we have in Citrix, we come back to that as the preferred solution. We got a pretty good look at VMware's Horizon solution to possibly go complete VDI, but it just didn't make as much sense for us. I'm not saying those aren't good solutions but, for us, we still like Citrix.
You've said the bank is considering the adoption of Citrix Workspace. What are your thoughts on that?
Archer: It could be a complete game-changer, but with some of our older apps, that's our hesitation. We're not sure the compatibility is going to be there for some of those legacy apps -- they're not the most up-to-date things. I think that's probably our big holdup. On top of that, what we have is working, so we're not ready to rock the boat.
Adam ArcherSenior vice president and director of infrastructure, Renasant Bank
Working from home is on the rise. Have you had to respond to this trend?
Archer: Associates today are definitely much different than they were 10 to 15 years ago. Everybody wants to be able to work remotely, to have that flexible workspace to work wherever, whenever. With the Citrix footprint we have, that gives us the ability to allow our associates to work pretty much wherever they want to, as long as they have a data connection. At the same time, having everything come back to the data center in the Citrix environment keeps everything secure. We don't have to worry about data security like we would if we just used VPNs. It's given us a little peace of mind.
Editor's note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.