Mount Barker is a diverse and fast-growing region situated just outside of metropolitan Adelaide, in South Australia. Noted for its natural environment, history and ecology, Mount Barker offers residents and businesses a semi-rural community that is still within easy access of central Adelaide.
The region is administered by the Mount Barker District Council, a mid-sized urban Council with approximately 165 staff. While many staff and devices are located at the Council head office, there is an increasing need for workforce mobility as Council staff conduct their roles in the broader community.
Based on growth projections for the region, Council drafted a strategic plan in 2015 that would allow for the ongoing provision of quality services and infrastructure to residents of Mount Barker. A key area of focus within the plan was to provide staff and management with a flexible, secure and mobile working environment, to better facilitate the needs of a modern workforce.
In October 2014, the Council moved to a centralised virtual desktop environment, with the delivery of desktops and applications to any device over any network now available.
“We saw a need to create a more flexible working environment for our staff out on the road, with live management and remote access to key business applications, no matter where the staff member happened to be,” said Doris Hajszan, Manager ICT at Mount Barker District Council. “The decision was made to move all of our desktop and mobile devices into the cloud, delivering advanced services through a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).”
The Council initially deployed around 100 Dell Wyse thin clients, which ran the Linux Operating System (OS) saving on Windows licencing fees, as well as a range of mobile devices. All devices and applications are delivered by a Citrix environment.
While the deployment met many of the Council’s strategic criteria, a lack of local support for the Dell Wyse device solution caused pain points for the Council’s ICT team.
“A major problem with our previous solution was the lack of local support, and the time difference between us and the people we needed to speak to. Firmware updates were not happening on a regular basis, which impacted on the smooth running of the Citrix environment.
This in turn impacted on the performance of our devices and applications, which threatened to compromise our staff’s ability to perform their roles,” said Hajszan.
Beyond the lack of necessary local support, the ICT team also identified the growing need for advanced graphical interfaces within certain areas of the Council, which their existing thin clients were not able to support.
Having learned from past experience, when the time came to perform a hardware refresh, Hajszan expanded her search for replacement hardware.
“We took things a little more slowly, and really tested the various vendors’ ability to provide ongoing support,” she said. “We chose IGEL because we were impressed with the level of dedication we received from their local staff, who were very committed to understanding our needs and supporting them.
The hardware itself seemed to be top quality, the software really supported the Linux features we require, and we got excellent results during the test phase.”
Mount Barker District Council rolled out approximately 60 IGEL Linux UD3 and UD6 units, as well as deploying IGEL’s Universal Management Suite (UMS) for its ability to provide advanced endpoint management to all hardware within the virtual environment, including IGEL thin clients, IGEL OS converted PCs, and Windows 7 and ten IoT (via Unified Management Agent).
“The support we received from IGEL was fantastic, both during the roll-out phase and their ongoing support now, which is allowing us to maintain the virtual desktop system ourselves. We no longer have to rely on external control points.
There is a whole lot to recommend about IGEL, our experience really was like chalk and cheese,” said Hajszan.
The ICT team at Mount Barker report that their software is actively maintained now, which has resulted in a better operating environment for the ICT team and end-users. Rather than dealing with a system that was waiting for updates and constantly in a state of catch up, Hajszan says that the system is now running smoothly and efficiently.
“We no longer have to rely on external control points, and the functionality of the software and devices is clearly better. I might be biased, being of German descent, but I do feel that we are getting a better-designed and more functional product.
Add to that the fact that IGEL’s operating system provides auto- updates to support applications like Java, and there is a lot to like.”
The ICT team at Mount Barker District Council find their IGEL devices very easy to deploy, as they turn up pre-configured. Once a device is unboxed, it can be connected to the network, will find its configurations automatically, and is ready to use within minutes.
This allows for a much easier roll-out, with less time spent configuring devices and downloading software. IGEL’s Universal Management Suite (UMS) provides control and visibility (inbuilt VNC functionality and asset management) for the virtual environment, further reducing the amount of time the ICT team spend on maintaining the system.
“Our overall experience with this deployment has been excellent. Support has been first-class, the devices and software work very well, and we have been very happy with the whole solution.
We will now look to roll over all our remaining devices to IGEL as well, and bring them all under IGEL’s UMS,” concludes Hajszan.