Situated just west of Copenhagen, Albertslund is one of Denmark’s smaller local councils. However, it has a big reputation for innovation.
As many local government bodies around the world consider a move to cloud, we spoke to Albertslund’s CIO, Galina Ianchina, and IT Architect Claus Tom Christensen, about their experience so far and their plans for the future.
Citrix: Galina, Claus, thank you for sparing the time to talk with us. Albertslund Kommune has recently started moving its IT to the cloud. Can you tell us why you considered moving to cloud?
Galina: We wanted to improve our IT performance. Working with the council’s leaders, we identified three requirements: We wanted our IT operations to be more stable, we wanted to contain costs, and we wanted to free our people from operations to focus on development and innovation. It came down to people and money. When we looked at all the possibilities, it was clear that cloud was the way for us to achieve those things.
Claus: We had latency problems with our on-premises infrastructure and, with only six people in our IT team providing services for a community of 28,000, we were very focused on operations.
Galina: Often, staff only had time to do the most essential maintenance on systems, which contributed to our stability issues. Our leaders wanted a 24/7 service, but we couldn’t afford to provide that.
Citrix: Like many councils, and other organisations, you use a lot of Microsoft technology alongside Citrix. How important was the Citrix / Microsoft partnership in your decision to move to Citrix Cloud Services on Azure?
Galina: It was very important. We had our first direct visit from Citrix and it was so good to show them the problems we had. It was great to see these two big vendors, Citrix and Microsoft, cooperating to solve our problem. So many times, vendors just point the finger at each other and the customer is always the loser. It’s also fun to see Microsoft and Citrix partners cooperating. It’s great. It’s not like a visit from license pushers.
Citrix: You have started to migrate services from your data centre to the cloud. How many apps do you have running on Citrix?
Claus: The biggest is our ECM system which holds over two million documents. But we also have all our administrative systems for every service: social services, schools, kindergartens, finance, everything. In total, we have around 150 apps on Citrix.
Galina: Yes, we have two server rooms in the basement. One is already empty and when we empty the other, we dream of putting in a swimming pool!
Citrix: And, have you started to see the benefits of the move, yet?
Claus: Yes, with Citrix Cloud, we no longer have to manage services like NetScaler, StoreFront and data collectors. We don’t need to do that anymore.
Galina: We can now take those resources to do something new. We’re able to partner with the business units. We have time to understand their strategies and we can adjust our services exactly to what they need. We’re balancing the migration with the ability to quickly introduce new services when a department’s requirements change. We can support new initiatives like creating a data lake to support our Smart Cities work.
Citrix: And you have the greater stability that you needed?
Claus: Yes, users get better performance and lower latency.
Because the services are managed in the cloud, everything is fully maintained and we get the stability of operations we needed, at any time of day. We get “stable” as standard.
Citrix also helps us with security and GDPR compliance. It’s a great tool to keep data away from devices. That’s a big reason for using Citrix.
Citrix: Have you been able to contain costs as you hoped?
Galina: Yes, when we looked at other options to give us the performance and stability we wanted, we needed to hire two more people. We’ve avoided that cost.
For us, the biggest saving comes from avoiding the need to buy more hardware. With everything in the cloud, we no longer need to have the regular server hardware refresh cycle.
Citrix: Most importantly, have you protected Albertslund’s freedom to innovate?
Galina: I think so. We are first-movers in this so we are maybe a year ahead of other councils. We dream big, but we start with small steps, so we are currently experimenting with chatbots for internal IT support. If those are successful, we can roll the technology out to citizen services. We’re also exploring how to make more open data available to citizens and local businesses.
As more councils move to cloud, we will be on a common platform and everyone will automatically be on the latest version. That will make it much easier to collaborate on projects of common interest.
For now, our goal is to make IT invisible for users. Citrix is an enabler of that.
Citrix: Galina, Claus, thank you again for your time.
Read more about Citrix Cloud services: https://www.citrix.co.uk/products/citrix-cloud/