Pori, on the southwest coast of Finland, is a thriving city of international trade and culture with a population of 85,000. The city government operates under the ethos, “We come to the people, the people don’t come to us.” To be closer to citizens, Pori’s 7,000 workers operate from approximately 400 separate buildings.
Pori’s workers spend a significant amount of time traveling between offices or visiting sites and citizens. Mobile workers were using laptops, but other workers were using desktop computers, which limited their ability to be effective away from their desks. Even mobile workers were constrained by the ageing VPN solution they used to connect to central resources. They could only access required data and applications from their laptops over a Wi-Fi or cable connection. But this was not always possible when visiting remote rural areas or urban construction sites.
Pori wanted to help its workers be effective wherever they were. The city also wanted to give all 7,000 employees the choice of working from home. However, it was important that any remote access solution maintain the security of the city’s data. At the same time, Jori Pasanen, Pori’s IT systems specialist, and his team were seeking opportunities to improve the efficiency of IT management and to reduce costs whenever possible.
Pasanen and his team worked with Citrix Platinum Solution Advisor Atea to develop a solution that would meet the city’s needs. “We realised early in the project that we needed a partner with both a wide knowledge of different solutions and a deep knowledge in areas such as group policies and certification,” Pasanen said.
Together, the teams from Pori and Atea developed a solution using Citrix ® XenDesktop® Enterprise Edition, Citrix XenApp®, Citrix XenMobile® MDM Edition, and NetScaler Gateway™. XenApp delivers a hosted shared desktop to workers’ devices. In a small number of specialized cases—for example, users of graphic-intensive applications such as AutoCAD—Pori uses XenDesktop to provide a full virtual desktop infrastructure with dedicated computing resources to any suitable device, such as a legacy PC or a thin-client terminal.
Within its offices, Pori will gradually migrate to thin-client terminals from PCs as the leases on the equipment come to an end. The city leases its hardware over three years for laptops and four years for desktops. “Thin clients have a much longer lifecycle and require less maintenance than a PC. Of course, they also consume much less energy,” said Pasanen.
Mobile workers use either laptops or city-owned tablet devices to access their information. NetScaler Gateway provides easy and secure access to Windows desktops from any device running Citrix Receiver™. XenMobile MDM Edition adds important device-level security, allowing the IT team to enforce password protection and data encryption on city-owned or personal devices. Importantly, XenMobile enables the team to remotely wipe data from a lost or stolen device so that sensitive city information is always protected. The solution helps Pori to meet an increasing number of requests from employees to use personal devices such as iPad tablets or smartphones for work tasks.
Many of Pori’s offices have created an environment that allows people to share workspaces when they are most convenient. They can collaborate more easily and work together in ad-hoc project teams regardless of which office they are visiting. The Citrix virtual desktop solution lets workers log on to their Windows desktops from any legacy PC or a thin-client terminal in any office. As Pasanen said, “The Citrix solution delivers the applications users need, wherever they want. People have been very positive and eager to embrace the solution as it has rolled out to each department.”
The ability to work productively from home allows the city to function even when travel is affected, such as during severe weather, and it reduces the environmental impact of commuting. Pasanen noted, “With the option to work from home, we see people working extra hours that they might otherwise have spent commuting.”
Pori’s staff can now be more effective wherever they are. The city’s building and construction inspectors will soon have instant and secure access to planning applications and other information even when they are on building sites with no Wi-Fi access. Smartphones or tablets can use a 3G or 4G connection to connect to city systems. It will be possible to update records immediately, and the processing of necessary permits will become faster and more efficient.
The solution has helped reduce IT costs because thin-client terminals are less expensive, use less energy, and have a longer lifecycle than PCs. “We will save €100,000 ($111,000) per year from using these terminals,” Pasanen said. Citrix technology is also enabling his team to be more efficient. “With data and applications held on central servers, we can manage and secure the desktop centrally. Applications can be installed, patched, and upgraded without needing to visit every desk in all 400 locations, and data is always backed up centrally.”
With easier desktop management, Pasanen’s team now has more time to spend on the city’s strategic IT needs. “Because we can now devote additional time to innovation,” he said, “our work has become more interesting and challenging.”
As the current leases expire, Pasanen and his colleagues continue to replace legacy PCs with thin clients and mobile devices. They will shortly retire the city’s ageing VPN solution, replacing it with Citrix Receiver. They will also upgrade users’ desktops to Windows 10, a simple project now that the desktop operating system runs on a central server.
In the future, Pori’s 2,000 healthcare and social workers (who use information and communications technology services from Pori and from Medbit, a specialist provider to healthcare organisations in southern Finland) may also be able to use the Citrix solution to access sensitive personal information while visiting citizens at home or at community clinics. Pori and Medbit can securely share information and infrastructure, with Citrix Receiver providing secure access to city information through personal, city-owned, or Medbit-owned devices.
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