Simmons & Simmons is a multinational law firm, headquartered in London with offices worldwide. It opened its first international office over 50 years ago when Simmons & Simmons was the first law firm from the City of London to open an office in Brussels. Today, the business has offices in 22 key financial centres across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Simmons & Simmons’ strategy is to build an international presence using a combination of local lawyers with demonstrable local knowledge and fully integrated teams acting together at a global level.
Establish the means to manage, monitor and improve application performance across the desktop estate
Ensure consistent end-user experience for 2,000 users worldwide
Simmons & Simmons would like to rethink the typical law firm workplace environment, with fewer private offices and more open plan spaces.
“We want to create a more flexible and welcoming way of working,” says Ross Jeremy, Modern Workplace Team Lead, Simmons & Simmons. “Staff shouldn’t be constrained by a desk, so we are looking at space for ad hoc meetings to improve collaboration.”
The firm’s new Bristol office features break-out areas, more light, and an on-site café. The aim, explains Jeremy, is to create an environment where people want to work, where clients want to visit, and where work is more effective.
“We have five different generations of IT working here, and their requirements can be different. We want an environment that allows people to work in the way that is most effective for them,” he says.
From an IT perspective, Simmons & Simmons now favours a cloud-first approach, with the scale and flexibility to suit a growing, multinational operation. “We recognize that one size doesn’t fit all and there are occasions when we’ll have to reflect specific local needs,” says Jeremy. “For that to work, we need everyone on a stable, common platform, and to understand how everything – from device to applications – is working. We want to know about the experience of users on the other side of the world, not just those sitting five metres from the IT team.”
The plan, says Jeremy, was to standardize desktops for all users and upgrade to Microsoft Windows 10. Alongside this, he wanted to be able to centrally monitor the end-user experience: “We monitor the servers, we monitor the network and we now want to monitor the experience of every end-user.”
Simmons & Simmons already used Riverbed solutions for its WAN optimization. “We had a good working relationship and it was clear Riverbed understood our business. When we were recommended Riverbed® SteelCentral™ Aternity, it made sense to explore further,” says Jeremy.
This included conversations with SteelCentral customers and a Proof of Concept. “We could see first-hand with real data, on real devices in our environment,” Jeremy says. “The positive things we’d heard about SteelCentral Aternity rang true. It very much fitted our needs.”
The solution was put in place, alongside the desktop refresh and Windows 10 upgrade, across all 22 locations, in six months. All 2,000 Simmons & Simmons end-users, from partners to business support, are now monitored.
SteelCentral Aternity closes the IT monitoring visibility gap with accurate, real-time information about how Simmons & Simmons’ end-users actually experience and interact with their applications, devices, and network. It automatically generates a baseline for every application, device and user performance metric collected. Baselines can automatically be split, by location, subnet or target server so that a granular baseline exists for different groups of users. Users can also set manual thresholds for acceptable performance.
As soon as performance deviates from a baseline or threshold, Aternity detects the problem, generates alerts and opens trouble tickets. Aternity also speeds up resolution by automatically analyzing the business impact and affected groups, and identifying the probable cause.
Benefits: Effective support and better user experience
The impact, says Jeremy, is far-reaching. Worldwide support is more effective and more consistent. End-users experience fewer issues with devices and applications and management have solid metrics to inform future investment.
“Aternity gathers the information and presents it in a format that is easy to understand,” says Jeremy. “We might have known there was an issue – certainly the most vocal users would let us know but now we have the data to back it up. Aternity adds metrics to perception.”
At an operational level, Aternity enables his team to benchmark performance and alert support whenever, and wherever, there is a deviation. Whether it’s the number of dropped Skype calls in a given week, or the performance of Excel at the Amsterdam office, there is a clearer understanding of what good performance looks like, he says, and when it is time to intervene: “We can now be more proactive because we don’t have as many fires to put out. With SteelCentral, we’re monitoring the heartbeat of the business; if there is an issue we’re often ahead of it.”
By extending SteelCentral to support teams, he continues, he has been able to speed up troubleshooting: “Very often a user knows there is an issue, but can’t articulate the problem. SteelCentral enables the support team to check, say, the last time a device was rebooted, or the type of network connection. It gives us a head start on resolving the problem.”
These metrics, he continues, will also help ensure the more effective delivery of future IT projects: “Investment costs money, it may be disruptive. Now that we can determine the end-user experience, we have a better chance of judging the value of a new project to the business.”
Riverbed’s solution provides immediate insight into how application performance affects productivity. It allows Simmons & Simmons to instantaneously assess how long users wait for business-critical applications, by analyzing application usage, time spent running in the foreground, active time, wait time, and crashes.
“With SteelCentral we can be confident in the work we’re doing,” Jeremy says. “Visibility into the impact of change is a key benefit. When we’re making changes that may affect the end-user, we can test, pilot among a small user group, and be satisfied we haven’t degraded the service. Only then will we fully roll-out worldwide.”
Creating a community of SteelCentral Aternity users
Today, SteelCentral Aternity monitors desktop users at Simmons & Simmons and Jeremy expects to be monitoring all mobile users in the future:
“Desktops are the core of the business, but we know 50% of users are accessing emails on their mobile device. Mobiles are part of a lawyers’ everyday life. We can deploy applications to mobiles securely, so it makes sense for us to understand how these apps are performing.”
He also wants to broaden the use of SteelCentral. Rather than just being a solution for those in IT management, he wants to make it available to a wider user group: “We want to create a community of users,” he says. “With Aternity, it’s a lot easier to spot a problem or trends and the more this becomes part of the daily business of support, the better we’ll be.”