12348

Stad Sint-Niklaas

City of Sint-Niklaas sees workload for ICT Citrix management drop up to 40% thanks to new virtual environment

Background

Sint-Niklaas in East Flanders has a population of ca. 75,000 inhabitants, making it the biggest city in Waasland. For the renewal of the ICT infrastructure, the city called on SecureLink.
The ICT department provides technical support to all municipal services and other services such as those of the Public Centre for Social Welfare (abbreviated as OCMW in Dutch). “Municipal services to the conventional services at the town hall (residence, spare time, etc), the municipal schools, the municipal theatre, the sub-town halls, sport centres, academies, etc. We also support the police services,” explains Patrick Thierens, ICT department head at the City of Sint-Niklaas. The OCMW services comprise part of the care for the elderly with five residential care centres and social services, including homecare workers. “More than 40 locations and more than 1000 users in all are involved, of whom 800 on average are busy concurrently in a Citrix environment.”

Want to know which technology
we used for this customer case?

See technology

Download this customer case.
And enjoy you reading offline.

Download PDF

Challenge

Challenge: how to respond to the changing society

Cities and municipalities must digitise more and more. Patrick Thierens: “We are faced with a provision of service citizens expect to be available round the clock, year round. Conventional services are being automated and furthermore, citizens are requesting digital access to documents. Just as in the banking sector. Furthermore, they want online services so that they no longer have to go to the town hall in person. I am curious to know whether there would be a reason to go to the town hall in 10 years time.”

IT is consequently becoming increasingly more crucial for a city of this size. That is a major challenge, because as an IT department you must always seek to strike a balance between maintaining existing applications in operation and making the necessary changes for digitisation. The configuration of the IT department was adapted recently to steer things in the right direction. On the one hand, a nine strong ICT Operations team headed by Patrick Thierens is responsible for all technical projects and the daily running of IT. The team manages all applications and the network, including security. Furthermore, there is a strategic coordination and digitisation team that considers the input of technology and the unlocking of applications for citizens in a qualitative manner.

Technology used

Solution

Importance of the right partners

This has often to be done with fewer people. There are broader responsibilities and an ever increasing need for more specific knowledge which advancing rapidly. “That is precisely why it is important to be able to surround ourselves, as the IT department, with the right partners in specific fields such as virtualisation, security or networking.”

Slow and susceptible to crashing

The current Citrix & AppSense environment which was implemented in 2009 by SecureLink, had proven its mettle in terms of concept and manageability. “But the environment became slow, and we tend to get complaints about the performance. Furthermore, servers crashed regularly, and a new roll out could take up to 24 hours,” Patrick explains. “What we needed was an efficient, easily manageable solution for adding new applications easily, and for managing the new applications in an easier manner.”

Structural approach

The approach was entrusted to SecureLink. Patrick Thierens: “They have a thorough knowledge of our specific and complex environment with countless applications and the diverse group of users. A structural approach was also important for us. A needs analysis was conducted first. It yielded a number of design proposals that were discussed with us, in terms of costs and the technical concept. Once the choice was made, SecureLink drew up a detailed plan of approach with an estimate of the project (in terms of cost, timeframe, packaging, workload, etc…).”
The roll out took 100 man-days in all, with the involvement of half of the ICT team and a number of people from SecureLink.
The city applies the principle of key users. Mr Thierens: “The specific applications of each service were inventoried with a key user from that service. These were then converted to the new environment. If the key user experienced no problems, all the users of that service were converted. This phased approach turned out to be a very successful way of working.”

After implementation: up to 40% lower workload for Citrix management

One year after the switchover to the new environment, the results seem effective…
“We are very satisfied as the ICT department. We have relatively little work for managing the environment and can now roll out new applications very rapidly.” Patrick Thierens explains. “In the past, this was done at night and you could resume work only the next day, whereas now we can switch in 5 minutes without hindrance. We can now also add extra capacity in a very rapid manner. It is a flexible, manageable environment. ”
There are many improvements on the maintenance front. In the past, the virtual Citrix servers crashed almost every week; now that is an exceptional occurrence (once every 3 months). Furthermore, the functions are taken over directly by other servers, so there is a great deal of improvement in terms of redundancy. “In concrete terms, our IT department saves no less than 30% to 40% time for the Citrix domain management: the workload for conventional maintenance has dropped sharply as has the time you have to take to roll out a new application.”

Satisfied users

The staff can see a considerable improvement too. Although the applications have not changed as such, the new environment is much more stable and more efficient. “Two things are important for them: speed and the availability of the applications. In the past, when they typed something, they had to wait now and then until the letters appeared on their screen. Now, it is as if working locally on a computer. Similarly, initiating a Citrix station used to take more than one minute. Thanks to the Environment Manager of AppSense, it now only takes seconds to load profiles. Multiply this time saved by 1000 users and sessions per day, and you have a fine return on investment,” Patrick Thierens concludes.

Want to know which technology
we used for this customer case?

See technology

Download this customer case.
And enjoy you reading offline.

Download PDF