Kriminalvården is the Swedish prison and probation service. It is responsible for remand prisons, pre-sentence investigations, community service, custodial sentences and supervision of those on conditional release and probation. Kriminalvården is also responsible for the transport of inmates between locations. The service is founded on the belief that time spent in prison and on probation should bring about positive change, and its goal is to help inmates live a better life after serving their sentences.
Originally comprised of separate regional organisations, Kriminalvården now has a central headquarters and covers the whole of Sweden through more than 100 locations including prisons, probation offices and administrative offices. The service handles 17,000 clients every day and provides 70,000 transport journeys per year.
Mikael Gustafsson is Kriminalvården’s Mobility and Workplace Architect. He is also responsible for application delivery across the organisation.
The challenge: providing secure, flexible and cost-effective desktop computing
Kriminalvården had two IT-related challenges; one operational and the other aspirational. Operationally, the service needed to reduce the cost of managing desktop computing for its 11,000 employees. Supporting 7,000 PCs in 100 different locations was expensive and time-consuming, especially as the desktop hardware got older. Installing new software, upgrading systems and supporting users frequently required an engineer to visit individual PCs all across the country.
Further, the user experience for staff was inconsistent. Some applications had to be accessed remotely over the service’s WAN, and response times were sometimes very poor depending on office location and network traffic. Staff had no remote or mobile access when outside Kriminalvården facilities.
Aspirationally, Kriminalvården wanted to use technology to support its goal of helping inmates to live a better life after their sentences were completed. At that time, inmates’ access to education was limited to reading books. However, as Mikael explains, “We wanted to provide an educational IT environment for inmates by giving them access to certain applications and resources in a controlled way.”
For security, delivering IT services required control over the applications that inmates could access and monitoring of each user’s activity. Mikael and his team also needed to consider how to support users of the solution. He explains, “If you have been in prison for 15 years, the world outside is a very different place from when you went in. You might need a lot of support to start using a computer system.”
The solution: delivering a virtual desktop with XenApp
The IT team was already familiar with Citrix technology. Kriminalvården implemented XenApp to deliver the service’s central register of clients (KVR) to all of its offices. KVR had been created following the consolidation of regional services. However, the large database application had suffered from latency issues affecting remote access until Kriminalvården deployed XenApp to provide virtual app delivery.
Pleased with XenApp’s performance delivering KVR, the team explored how to use Citrix technology to deliver an entire virtual desktop, rather than a single app.
They designed a solution to centralise desktop software in the data centre and deliver it as a hosted shared desktop to individual users. The solution included XenServer to optimise hardware resources in the data centre, and XenApp to deliver a familiar Windows desktop to staff.
To reduce costs, the team extended the life of desktop PC hardware by installing a Linux client and using the PCs as
terminals for the virtual desktop. Over time, these PCs were replaced with thin-client terminals.
For inmates, the team designed INIT (“INmate IT”), which uses XenApp to deliver a separate, more limited, hosted shared desktop to thin-client terminals within the prisons. The INIT virtual desktop provides access to educational applications. Inmates who earn special privileges can receive access to additional functionality or resources, such as limited Internet access.
Key benefit: secure access to IT resources for inmates
INIT, powered by XenApp, supports Kriminalvården’s efforts in preparing inmates for life after their incarceration. Inmates now have access to educational resources to improve their Swedish, English, maths and IT skills. The Citrix solution is easy to support remotely; in most cases, users can simply move to a different terminal to resume their session.
The solution is popular with staff and inmates, as Mikael explains, “We are currently looking to extend the value and functionality of the environment for inmates.” The Swedish prison system allows home-leave for inmates serving some sentences: “Soon inmates will be able to use an app within INIT to apply for leave.”
Key benefit: reducing IT management cost and complexity
The team has deployed 7,000 thin-client terminals, including 1,000 installed within prison facilities, with a further 1,000 PCs due to be replaced shortly. The thin clients’ lower cost and longer life will reduce the cost of IT infrastructure.
Running the virtual desktop centrally from the data centre significantly reduces the cost of IT management, as Mikael explains, “The centralisation of management is the best part of using Citrix technology. IT staff can do their work in headquarters, rather than having to visit every office to perform PC administration. We use Citrix Provisioning Services to deliver a single desktop image to all the XenApp servers; it’s a great solution. If we have software upgrades to do, provisioning takes less than an hour and everyone can begin using the new version. It’s much easier and costs less than managing a distributed system.”
Support is easier, too: “It’s very easy for our support team to resolve problems. They can quickly re-set a profile from the data centre, and the user is up and running again. There’s no need to restore a PC.”
Key benefit: delivering a consistent user experience
The XenApp desktop ensures a fast login and consistent performance for each staff member, no matter their location. Importantly, staff can now access their desktop using a laptop when away from Kriminalvården offices, perhaps working from home, on the train or in a hotel room. Kriminalvården currently uses a remote access solution to control access to the Citrix environment, and provides a limited set of apps and services to mobile users. This approach enables them to be effective outside the office while maintaining data security.
The team have expanded their use of Citrix technology from delivering a single application (KVR) to providing a full virtual desktop to all staff in offices and a limited desktop to mobile users and inmates. They now plan to expand this further by using NetScaler Unified Gateway to replace the current, remote access solution. Mikael explains, “We originally chose a different solution for remote access, but it proved very expensive and users have complained about instability over the network.”
Using NetScaler Unified Gateway will enable Kriminalvården to control access at a more granular level. Staff members will be given access to different resources and information depending on their job role and the environment from which they are connecting; for example, receiving restricted access if connecting from a public place.
Kriminalvården is also rolling out XenMobile Enterprise Mobility Management to expand its remote access further by allowing users to connect to their desktop using smartphones and tablet devices. XenMobile provides management for mobile devices, apps and content to enhance the user experience without compromising security.
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