Penn National Insurance

Penn National Insurance Supports Massive Increase in Remote Workers

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“It’s easy to use 25-30% of what a solution can do but with Goliath we are constantly in that product. It provides too much value that we can never set it aside. The ability to see all our cross-platform products in one tool and to quickly have true visibility into the issue to guide expectations and meaningful conversations with our end users is priceless.”
— Mark Keefer, Senior Infrastructure System Administrator, Penn National Insurance.”


Citrix XenDesktop; IGEL Endpoint; VMware vSphere; Cisco IP Communicator (softphone)


Penn National Insurance‘s IT team was facing a massive increase in the number of remote workers and they needed a way to:

  • Support a surge of remote workers using Citrix.
  • Respond to an increased amount of troubleshooting calls to resolve issues.
  • Prevent performance issues rather than reacting to increased support tickets.
  • Proactively document end user experience metrics rather than relying on end users’ feedback.
  • Report to management on remote worker productivity – Citrix logon frequency and applications used.

In response, the IT team rolled out its virtual workspace initiative, proving to be one of their most challenging IT projects. The Penn National Insurance IT team had to work across multiple technologies including IGEL, Cisco, and Citrix as well as contend with each unique environment their employees were connecting from to provide a consistent end user experience – home office, remote office, coffee shops, etc.

An inherent issue with the virtual workspace initiative is the need to rely on and manage multiple vendors to enable this remote worker lifestyle. Penn National wanted to be able to proactively monitor, manage and troubleshoot all of the elements across the overall delivery infrastructure including IGEL Endpoints, Cisco IP Communicators (softphones) and various connection methodologies whether it is WIFI, satellite or hardwired phone lines, Citrix XenDesktop and VMware vSphere.

“We wanted to provide one unified experience to all users regardless of their device, locations or type of connection as part of the virtual workspace initiative,” said Dan Morrison, Director IT I&O, Penn National Insurance.


Two examples of technical issues that were resolved which could have slowed their initiative:

Issue #1:

“We wanted to see all of the delivery infrastructure subsystems and monitor them proactively from a single pane of glass so we could anticipate end user experience issues and troubleshoot them quickly when they arise,” said Morrison. “The image below is the Goliath Automatic Citrix Discovery and Dependency Map, which gives us the NOC view. We look at this every day and it is refreshed in real time so we can determine at a glance if there are issues and where they are so we can troubleshoot quickly.”

An employee is calling in from their home office using an IGEL Endpoint, Cisco IP Communicator (softphone) and utilizing a connection which can be anything from a hard line, satellite to WIFI. Given all these moving parts, Penn National needed a way to anticipate and be alerted to issues, for example, connection speed being slow and or overall session latency being high, before or at the same time as the employee. Then, they needed to be able to troubleshoot the issue down to the root cause.

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Issue #2:

“We had a user that was connecting from their home office and complaining about logon times. Using the ICA and HDX drill down from the session display (image below) I could see that the issue was connection speed and therefore the problem was from the house to the data center. After further conversations with the end user we discovered the WIFI was overloaded with other users in the home while the employee was attempting to use the Cisco softphone so it couldn’t handle the voice payload. She had the other users stop using the internet and she was able to restore her voice performance.”


Screenshot: Above shows a drop in “Connection Speed” from the IGEL endpoint at the user’s home office. So we know at a glance that bandwidth from the home office is the issue. Short term we suggested they reduce the number of users connected to the home WIFI. Long term they upgraded their internet package.

The technology also allows IT to look at latency trends and actual latency metrics in real time. According to Morrison, “I can simply sort the session display by latency length and receive alerts to high latency. Then if I see high collective latency I know it’s inside the data center and if it is just a handful of users I know it’s outside the data center. Just this disqualification is huge for us and cuts down on massive time wasted looking for where an issue might be. I use Goliath literally all the time and I am in the software multiple times a day.”


Penn National Insurance was able to leverage the detailed end user and Citrix Delivery infrastructure metrics to ensure the successful rollout of their Virtual Workspace Initiative.

Video: Prove Home WIFI as Root Cause of Citrix Latency

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ABOUT Penn National Insurance

Penn National Insurance is a reputable provider of diverse insurance products, emphasizing excellent customer service, local expertise, financial stability, and a network of independent agents. They also leverage technology for efficient service delivery and actively engage in community initiatives.

Headquarters location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Founded: 1919
Employees: 800+
Industry: Insurance