One of the IT department's responsibilities is to maintain the Citrix XenApp infrastructure utilized by the USTA's seventeen sections. The Citrix desktop includes all of the business applications used by the office employees, including email and collaborative file storage. Until recently, the association's Citrix system was hosted by a third-party vendor in a traditional datacenter. However, the hardware in that datacenter was aging out of warranty and was no longer able to adequately support the USTA's needs. In particular, the Citrix system suffered from network bandwidth bottlenecking within its original infrastructure.
The USTA's IT department weighed its options, and in November 2010 selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its new Citrix hosting environment. The department had previously leveraged AWS for other projects and knew that the service could offer the flexibility and performance capabilities necessary for the USTA's widespread network of offices. Larry Bonfante, CIO of the USTA, explains, "We wanted to work with a cloud provider who had critical mass and a track record of running mission critical systems in the public cloud."
Amazon's resizable computing environment, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is the foundation of the USTA's Citrix solution. The IT department runs one Amazon EC2 instance for each of the section offices. Because Amazon EC2 instances are available in a variety of sizes, the association was able to choose instances with appropriate capacity to meet the unique needs of each office. If an office outgrows its current resources, the IT department can easily upgrade to a larger instance. Each of the offices is also supported by Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) volumes, which are attached to individual Amazon EC2 instances. Because Amazon EBS volumes persist independently, they can be moved between instances and multiple volumes can be partnered on individual instances as necessary.
The USTA's IT department built its Citrix hosting environment using the AWS SDK for .NET, along with the AWS Management Console, which provides a point-and-click interface to all AWS features. Unlike its previous hosting environment, AWS allows the USTA to create nightly images of all of its server instances, which comply with the association's data retention policy. These nightly images also help the IT department develop isolated test environments for maintenance activities, such as patch testing.
A separate team within the USTA's IT department is currently developing an additional Amazon Web Services solution that will store and stream tennis-oriented videos from AWS.
The USTA feels confident in its selection of AWS and reports that the flexibility of the new hosting environment has improved the performance of the Citrix virtual desktops. The IT department also rests easier knowing that each individual office is protected from problems within other sections, because each office is bolstered by its own Amazon EC2 instance. In addition, this architectural arrangement gives the association the ability to customize the Citrix software to meet the needs of the specific offices.
Citrix is pleased to have been able to assist USTA during their transition to AWS and with the successful results said Matt Lull, Citrix Systems Sr Dir of Global Alliances. Citrix virtual desktops hosted on Amazon's secure and dynamically scalable infrastructure enable any enterprise app or desktop to become a cloud service, which can be delivered to any device, anywhere.
To learn more, visit http://www.usta.com/ .
Added August 15, 2011