Berkelland, one of the earliest inhabited areas of the Netherlands, is a municipality in the province of Gelderland, which today employs nearly 45 000 residents and covers a total area of over 26 000 hectares. The town hall is located in Berkelland Borculo. The IT staff of Berkelland performs ICT management of the Achterhoek Social Services East, a partnership between three counties supporting of 400 employees.
Two years ago, the organization needed to consolidate multiple locations into one new location. The municipality wanted to introduce new ways of working and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) simultaneously with the move to the new building. “The new work also identified several organizational aspects of an ICT component. In the new building employees have no personal offices and more computer workstations and systems should be designed fully interchangeable. Because the existing hardware and software were still depreciated technically and economically, we had the opportunity to build an IT environment that is 100 percent focused on new work,” says Nenad Vasiljevic, ICT coordinator at the municipality of Berkelland.
“We have been working for seven years with Citrix application delivery solutions, and therefore wanted the new building to create a Citrix environment with desktop virtualization. With this we are able to offer a solution for employees who need specific PC functionality. By supplementing the environment with Citrix NetScaler, we extend the new work environment safely to mobile workplaces and home offices.”
After replacing the storage system with new NetApp SANs in 2011, PQR, a Platinum Citrix Solution Advisor, created the technical design of the new infrastructure, based on the municipality made by the set of requirements. “Because most of the infrastructure had to be replaced - from network servers to desktops - we were fortunate that we were able to design in parallel to the production of the entire infrastructure,” continues Vasiljevic.
PQR built the new environment. New HP servers were installed and the Citrix environment redecorated with current software. A Citrix NetScaler was implemented to provide the social services access to virtualized desktops. On the municipal side, two NetScaler appliances were placed to achieve high availability by load balancing, one in it own datacenter in Borculo and a second in the alternative location in Winterswijk. Employees have access via a VPN tunnel. All workplaces are equipped with new Dell thin clients. The town itself has created packages for many older 16-bit and 32-bit applications with Microsoft App-V. After an intense stress test and fine-tuning of the latest applications the modernized work environment was established in January 2012.
To create a completely interchangeable workplace, a solution for 25 dedicated workstations with special applications such as AutoCAD or further rights was needed by application administrators. In order to integrate these workstations, the new environment was virtualized with Citrix XenDesktop. “Even the demanding employees now use the same thin clients that are available in the offices and in other work locations. They operate a virtual desktop with the same capabilities as the fat client previously, now even from home,” explains Vasiljevic. “The IT staff has much less work because it is really only one PC that needs to be managed. Now our employees and IT satisfied.”
The management of the server farm where the desktops are hosted, is progressing much more efficiently than before. With Citrix provisioning services, a component of Citrix XenDesktop Platinum Edition, the municipality is working with only one image for all 20 Citrix XenApp servers. All servers will be identical and changes only have to go through one place to be fed. The same applies to the management of virtual desktops: all virtual desktops using a single image. RES Workspace Manager ensures that the working environment is on the desktop itself consistent and under control.
The municipality has a clean desk policy so that any workplace can be used by any employee, including the executives and the mayor. Fast thin clients are a precondition to realize the new works. The organization chose very fast Dell/Wyse dual-core thin clients with 4GB of memory running Microsoft Windows 7 Embedded. “Video and audio are sent from the central location to the thin clients and the support of the Citrix HDX protocol multimedia works very well. Employees can view videos on YouTube and listen to online radio stations,” adds Vasiljevic. “Because a physical radio does not suit an environment with flexible workstations, this is an ideal application for the new work.” The municipality is pleased with the automatic disclosure of local USB drives within the central area. “Bringing photos to and from work is no problem. Thanks to the HDX protocol every application works in every thin client and we are completely freed from the particular workplaces.”
Flexible desks, computer workstations and flexible working hours combined with the ability to work from home, make the town a modern employer, where young people feel at home. “We have reasonable freedom in the workplace with good experiences. Listening to music and using the Internet use are no longer issues. If employees like it, that's positive for our community. Working at home is now part of the culture of our organization,” concludes Vasiljevic. “We already support some smartphones, but we play with the idea of giving employees a budget to purchase a device itself. The IT staff takes care of access and security, but the employees must manage their own devices. Thanks to Citrix, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is within reach, an idea which appeals to many younger employees.”
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