Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Rupert Hay-Campbell, information/communications technology and information governance officer for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, a community in East London with 180,000 residents. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.
At the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, we’re dealing with a classic government challenge: the need to provide great technology for our 3,500 local council employees in a climate of severe budget austerity. In the middle of 2013 we turned our attention to upgrading our IT platform in preparation for the Windows XP end of life in April 2014.
We knew we had to either upgrade our 3,500 desktop computers and 800 laptops or find new ways to give employees access to our council systems, and preferably on devices that didn’t need to be constantly upgraded or managed by our IT staff. Google Chromebooks and Chromeboxes ticked all of these boxes – and more.
We want to future-proof our systems based on how our employees will be working five or 10 years from now. They’ll be more mobile, working from home or from various council offices, so they’ll rely on laptops. The applications they’ll use will be web-based, so a device built around a browser makes sense. At the same time, we must also manage council information in strict compliance with UK government security regulations.
Once CESG, the UK government agency responsible for IT security, developed security standards for councils using the Chrome operating system, we started switching out XP desktops and laptops with 2,000 Chromebooks for employees and 500 Chromeboxes for reception desks and shared works areas.
With the help of Ancoris, a Google Enterprise Partner, and Elevate East London, the council’s joint venture IT outsourcing partner, we’re currently rolling out an initial 1,500 Chromebooks. Our partners helped us provide access to council applications via a Citrix virtual desktop, but we’ll gradually move new apps to the Chrome browser.
When we finish deploying Chromebooks and Chromeboxes in early summer, we’ll have 1,000 fewer devices to manage compared to our stock of Windows XP devices. Most employees will only have a Chromebook, instead of both a desktop and a laptop.
Not only does this help employees bring their work anywhere, it also saves us £200,000 compared with the cost of deploying new Windows desktops, and we’ve estimated a further £200,000 saving on electricity costs with the more energy-efficient ChromeOS devices. And since employees can work anywhere, we’ll be able to make substantial savings on more efficient use of some council buildings and offices. Spending less money on more secure, worker-friendly and flexible technology is helping us at the council deal with the challenge of austerity cuts – and, of course, plan better for the future of our community.