County of Rankin

XenDesktop gives county government the ultimate in desktop flexibility

  • Rankin County turned to XenDesktop to break away from the old process for desktop refresh and maintenance which had become extremely time consuming and was driving up expenses.
  • The first deployment of XenDesktop was completed over a weekend. When the employees came in Monday morning, they didn’t know that they had been moved to a virtual desktop.
  • In some cases, application performance on virtual desktops was much better than on the traditional PC.

County of Rankin

Located just outside of Jackson, Mississippi, Rankin County is the second largest and fastest growing county in the state. Rankin County’s IT department handles everything related to government functions from the Sheriff’s office to court systems, tax payment systems and even the water department. The IT staff
maintains over 1,000 pieces of equipment serving 600 users.

Challenge

Billy Rials, Rankin County’s IT Director for the Department of Information Technology was looking for a new approach to desktop management, a way to automate maintenance tasks instead of having to dealing with each desktop, one at a time. The process for desktop refresh and maintenance had become extremely time consuming and was driving up overtime expense. The IT department turned to Citrix® XenDesktop™ for its built-in image management capabilities and high quality user experience.

Rankin County wanted to start its virtual desktop deployment in the Justice Court, similar to a small claims court. The court clerks have to spend time at their desks and also in the court room. The clerks are rotated depending on what type of case is being heard, whether they are civil, criminal or otherwise.

Solution

XenDesktop was implemented first for the court clerks’ desktops, accessible from office workstations at their desk and also in the court rooms. The remainder of the 200 XenDesktop licenses was rolled out to multiple users covering all user types in the County government.

The virtual desktops were deployed on Citrix® XenServer™ running on Dell servers, implemented as part of an overall server consolidation effort. One server currently supports 42 virtual desktops.

The first deployment was completed over a weekend. When the employees came in Monday morning, they didn’t know that they had been moved to a virtual desktop. Since the existing PC endpoints had been re-purposed into thin clients, there was no visible change to the physical workstation. Employees logged onto their virtual desktop exactly as they had accessed their physical PC and were immediately provided with their full desktop functionality.

Results

“Now they’re much more productive, and the department heads and the judges are very impressed with the work performance they’re getting out of the clerks,” Mr. Rials said. “They now have their full desktop with them (all the time) because it can travel with them.”

The implementation of the 200 XenDesktop licenses is resulting in simplified moves, adds and changes, and significant reduction in hardware maintenance duties. Office moves have become a simple matter of telling the employee to log in from a different location; there is no longer any need for IT to touch the endpoint. As Mr. Rials noted, “Sometimes it’s weeks to move offices depending on the size of department and now it is down to hours.” The IT department is also benefiting from centralized management of the desktop image. They are able to maintain and upkeep one image for a whole department and easily manage updates or patches. IT can test an updated or patched image in a test environment without impacting anyone’s desktop. Then, they flip a switch and the image gets instantly deployed out to all the other desktops.

The IT department also discovered that in some cases, application performance on virtual desktops was much better than on the traditional PC. “When users move to another workstation that I haven’t converted, they notice that it’s a lot slower than when they are on a virtual desktop. To be honest, I was surprised. I was expecting a little bit of a performance gap, not much but something I could deal with. But in a lot of cases, (virtual desktop performance) was actually better,” said Mr. Rials.