The City of High Point improves services delivery and cuts costs with XenDesktop
Located in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, the City of High Point is the eighth-largest municipality in the state, with a 2010 population of 115,000. It provides a broad range of public services and amenities ranging from 911 public safety, police and fire to utilities, museums and libraries. High Point is known for furniture, textile and bus manufacturing.
The challenge: cutting costs while improving mobility and disaster recovery
Like most cities, High Point faces constant budget pressure. With 1,500 police officers, sanitation workers, librarians and other public employees to support, the IT department is always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of its desktop environment and reduce costs without impairing the delivery of service. Disaster recovery is also a key part of the city’s strategy to maintain continuity in the event of an epidemic, weather emergency, security incident or other disruption. Desktop virtualization offered a way to address all of these requirements through a single solution.
Implementing a Citrix virtual computing solution
Infrastructure solutions can be hard to manage and deploy, and Citrix offered a much more mature product when it comes to that type of service delivery. That benefit, combined with its Microsoft integration and better pricing, made a strong case for Citrix desktop virtualization,” said Dwayne McFerrin, PC network manager for the City of High Point.
The city began with a highly successful pilot using Citrix® XenApp™ to stream applications including Microsoft® Office and the SunGard OSSI PISTOL records management system to 200 workers, and is now following this with a full VDI implementation using Citrix® XenDesktop® to support all 1,500 city employees, many of them mobile, with server-based virtual desktops. “We have police officers accessing police records from their squad cars, as well as people who are driving a garbage truck or mowing grass who will be able to access OSHA training and things of that nature through their Citrix virtual desktops,” said Hasteadt.
Citrix® NetScaler® MPX appliances provide fault tolerance and automated failover for consistent availability, as well as threat protection through integrated Application Firewall software. Citrix Access Gateway™ software provides secure, remote access to applications and desktops, even legacy applications running the telnet protocol. As new mobile devices have flooded the consumer market, the city has taken advantage of the Citrix Receiver™ universal client to add worker-owned tablets and smartphones on various platforms to its Citrix environment as well.
Ensuring continuity of service—even when the unexpected happens
“Citrix desktop virtualization represents the backbone of our disaster recovery plan,” noted Hasteadt. “Now our mobile employees have immediate, secure access to their applications from wherever they are. If people can’t work at City Hall, I can put some thin clients wherever we have space in another location, set up a conference room somewhere or just commandeer public access terminals at the library, and continue business as usual. If there’s an epidemic and people don’t want to leave the house for fear of their own lives or safety, they can just stay home and work.”
Citrix technology also helps High Point ensure continuity in less-dramatic scenarios. “We have key personnel who do specialized jobs no one else can cover, especially in finance. If they’re stuck at home with a sick child or something, they can continue working to make sure the city’s business keeps moving and people are getting paid on time,” he explained.
Saving time with access to apps and data anywhere, on any device
The ability to access full IT resources wherever they are, without the need to return to a desktop computer, helps City of High Point workers deliver public services more quickly and effectively at a lower cost. “Police officers have gained at least an hour a day because they don’t have to come back to the police station to fill out paperwork. Instead, they’re out on the streets, accessible to the community. In terms of time and money, it’s like adding one to two full-time positions to the force,” said Hasteadt. Members of the district attorney’s office access police records on Citrix virtual desktops, saving valuable time in the decision of whether to bring specific cases to trial. City inspectors, utility workers and other mobile employees can make their own decisions about the best devices to support their work in the field, from Windows and Android tablets to Apple iPhones. “The productivity gains have been phenomenal, and the user response has been absolutely positive,” said Hasteadt, who has had the same experience. “In the middle of playing soccer the other night, I was rebooting servers from my iPhone, which I could never have done before.”
Reducing desktop costs
Citrix desktop virtualization has greatly reduced the share of the City of High Point budget that goes to desktop hardware. “We’ve been spending roughly $600,000 per year on PC replacement. By holding onto those desktops as long as we can, until they physically die, then replacing them with thin clients, we can save about $400,000 per year—and that doesn’t include salaries, time and other operating costs,” Hasteadt said. To further reduce costs and enhance user productivity, Hasteadt’s group is considering replacement of many of the Dell laptops in its environment with lower-cost Android-based tablets, as well as providing self-service application provisioning through a Citrix-powered app store for municipal employees. “Over the years, our IT department’s responsibilities have expanded but our personnel haven’t. Citrix helps us do more with fewer people, at a lower cost, so we can focus on being proactive and delivering applications in a better environment to our users.”
Citrix Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CTXS) is a leading provider of virtual computing solutions that help companies deliver IT as an on-demand service. Founded in 1989, Citrix combines virtualization, networking and cloud computing technologies into a full portfolio of products that enable virtual workstyles for users and virtual datacenters for IT. More than 230,000 organizations worldwide rely on Citrix to help them build simpler and more cost-effective IT environments. Citrix partners with over 10,000 companies in more than 100 countries. Annual revenue in 2010 was $1.87 billion.
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- Reduced desktop hardware costs by $400,000/year
- Ensured rapid, secure and effective disaster recovery
- Accelerated service delivery while reducing labor costs
- Empowered employees with anywhere, any-device access to IT resources
- Microsoft® Office
- SunGard OSSI PISTOL records management system
- Legacy telnet applications