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Customer Stories | Case Study: SDL

Leading intelligent language and content company accelerates remote work transition for 1,500 global employees with Nasuni® and Amazon

Industry: Professional Services

Global File System: Nasuni

Cloud Storage: (VDI) Amazon WorkSpaces

Use Cases:

VDI; Business Continuity

Benefits:

Simple, fast deployment; global reach; resilience; work-from-anywhere

SDL leverages Amazon WorkSpaces and Nasuni cloud file services for a fast, painless transition to virtual desktops for remote workers

SDL is the world’s leading intelligent language and content company, and works with 90 of the globe’s top brands. It has 1,400 in-house linguists, alongside engineers, testers, and content management experts, located across 63 offices worldwide. The company translates around 302 billion words per year, and prides itself on helping customers overcome their complex language and content challenges. No challenge is too big for this 28-year-old industry pioneer.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, SDL needed to find a way to continue delivering its valued service while enabling its globally distributed employees to work remotely. With the help of Amazon WorkSpaces and Nasuni cloud file services, SDL quickly deployed 1,500 virtual desktops in the cloud along with cloud-based access to file shares, and business continued delivering as usual.

Amazon WorkSpaces

A managed, secure Desktop-as-a-Service solution, Amazon WorkSpaces allows companies to provision desktops in a matter of minutes and scale to support thousands of users around the world. The service is available in 13 AWS Regions, delivering true global reach, and Amazon WorkSpaces gives users a fast, responsive desktop that they can access anywhere, anytime, from any supported device.

Nasuni Cloud File Services

Since 2016, SDL has been leveraging Nasuni to store, protect, and share the audio, video, and text files essential to its translation business. With Nasuni, SDL has unlimited, on-demand storage capacity, accelerated global collaboration between its distributed workforce, and built-in data protection that eliminates the expense and hassle of backup.

Nasuni ensures that files scale in cloud storage, not on local hardware. The gold or authoritative copy of each file is stored in the cloud, while cached copies of frequently access files are stored locally. When SDL began evaluating its VDI options as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, the company realized it already had one major piece of the remote-work puzzle solved. Its critical files were already in the cloud – now SDL just needed to put their desktops in the cloud to allow their employees to continue their work.

Keeping the Files Close

VDI deployments can be plagued by performance problems when virtual desktops and file storage are too far apart. This is especially true when multiple regions or global locations are involved. Performance can suffer if desktops in one region have to connect across the wire to access files in another region, and this negatively impacts end user productivity.

Because all of SDL’s file data was already consolidated by Nasuni in the cloud, all SDL had to do to support its suddenly remote workforce was deploy 13 lightweight Nasuni Edge Appliance VMs as Amazon EC2 instances in each AWS region that would be hosting virtual desktops, including Germany, Ireland, Brazil, Singapore, South Korea, and U.S. East. Then SDL deployed 1,500 virtual desktops across these AWS regions using Amazon WorkSpaces. By caching the frequently accessed files in the same AWS data centers as the WorkSpaces desktops, Nasuni eliminates the latency and bandwidth problems that can plague cloud VDI deployments.

“Nasuni was essential in our transition to an all-remote workforce as the COVID-19 pandemic spread,” says John Flynn, Head of Technical Architecture at SDL. “Thanks to Nasuni and Amazon WorkSpaces, we were able to set up virtual desktops for 1,500 essential employees over a weekend.”

4 Advantages of Nasuni and Amazon WorkSpaces

Based on SDL’s experience, the combination of Amazon WorkSpaces and Nasuni delivers four key benefits:

1. Fast, Simple Deployment
WorkSpaces is recognized as one of the easiest VDI solutions to spin up, and Nasuni is similarly painless to deploy. SDL was able to set up its new virtual desktop infrastructure supported by local file shares in a single weekend.

2. Global Reach
Nasuni is delivering file services to companies at 6,000 locations in 70 different countries. The WorkSpaces service, meanwhile, is available in 13 AWS regions worldwide. SDL’s business is everywhere, and Nasuni and AWS ensure that the company’s files and virtual desktops are accessible everywhere as well.

3. Performance
Combining the global presence of WorkSpaces with the intelligent caching of Nasuni Edge Appliances ensures that the files workers need remain close to their virtual desktops, maintaining the performance they expect.

4. Powerful IT Management
Nasuni makes it easy for IT to manage file shares, volumes, Active Directory authentication, file restores, capacity, and more – all via a web-based console.

A Long-Term File Solution

Despite the speed with which SDL deployed its new work-from-anywhere infrastructure, the flexibility offered by Nasuni to deploy file storage in cloud-only or hybrid cloud configurations gives the company a robust plan for the future, should SDL need to support a remote workforce through the end of this year or beyond. “Nasuni is not a temporary fix for our current remote-work situation,” Flynn adds. “We see it as a long-term file storage, data protection, and global collaboration solution at SDL.”