You may recall that Sunderland City in the UK recently announced its plans to deploy a truly innovative city-wide cloud computing platform that will be planned, designed, provisioned and implemented by Cetus Solutions, IBM and powered by Citrix virtual computing technologies.

This project is particularly innovative as the council intends on creating a cloud environment that not only supports its own IT requirements – creating a more efficient, lower cost IT environment by introducing virtual desktops across the organisation – but also offers IT-as-a-service to numerous voluntary organisations, local businesses and social enterprises across the city, to support and encourage economic growth.

Sunderland’s cloud is expected to reduce IT operational costs by £1.4m annually over the next five years, through a reduction in hardware, software licenses, maintenance on individual desktops and improved IT management. The council is consolidating its servers into one data centre and, through a combination of server and desktop virtualisation, will deliver virtual desktops and applications to over 4,000 Council employees. This will create an on-demand environment that will enable flexible working, enhance security and simplify management of the IT environment. Citrix technologies provided by Cetus Solutions, including XenDesktop, XenApp, XenServer and NetScaler will be used to create this new cloud environment, enabling staff to access desktops and applications, on-demand, from any computer.

The project will also provide a low cost, accessible and secure IT platform for use across Sunderland, allowing residents to access services and information in a quicker and easier way. Businesses will benefit from the ability to access on-demand IT services to increase capacity and capabilities without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel or licensing new software. Other companies, agencies and public sector partners are also expected to use the Cloud for improved collaboration.

Ultimately, the cloud implementation is likely to provide the foundation for deeper transformation, by making available sophisticated but affordable capabilities such as online self-service, fraud detection and process optimisation. It will also ultimately enable models such as a staff ‘bring your own computer’ scheme, which may further reduce costs and offer greater flexible working possibilities.

Citrix, in collaboration with Cetus Solutions and IBM, is particularly excited to be part of such an innovative project that will not only create a dynamic and efficient IT environment for Sunderland City Council, but will also support local businesses with scalable, on-demand IT services.