Selected as the most intelligent city in Europe in both 2012 and 2013 by Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), Finland’s city of Oulu takes its technology infrastructure seriously. Oulu Digi is the metropolitan area’s own IT service provider. The group serves the IT needs of the City, and not only manages Oulu's critical information system infrastructure and customer support functions, but also takes responsibility for procurement and asset lifecycle management of equipment, systems and applications.
Oulu has approximately 11,000 city employees. Approximately 100 people work in the centralized IT group in various departments. The infrastructure they manage is comprised of virtual servers and networks. The IT team itself is organized into specialized departments tasked with handling a variety of functions:
- Ops and Solutions Team is responsible for many of the different kinds of systems that serve as the foundation for city functions.
- Support Services manages day-to-day support of systems.
- End User Computing Services is responsible for procurement of devices and lifecycle management of assets.
Central device management touches many Oulu citizens
The Oulu Digi leadership team has employed a device management strategy that makes the City run smoothly: the team centrally manages all of the devices used by city employees. Because Oulu Digi is a local government entity, it uses public funds for purchasing devices. That means that having the ability to audit and control devices is crucial.
Most government apps for the City are designed for Android and iOS devices, but some applications used on Windows phones are still in the mix. The City soon hopes to add Win10 devices and Chromebooks to the list of assets that they manage.
Being able to access key information about the City’s more than 6,000 devices enables the IT team to serve the needs of many in Oulu:
- The City manages applications and devices that serve a number of diverse citizen populations. Hundreds of different education applications are provisioned to schools for use by students and staff; other applications facilitate home health care for the elderly; city officials use a myriad of devices for conducting government business in a host of locations; and still other devices and apps help those engaged in child care for kindergarten-age children maintain communication with parents and ensure security of the children.
- In some cases, the City grants certain levels of control to specific users. For example, in the education environment, Oulu Digi gives teachers access to endpoint management for their respective schools. This way, apps can be provisioned to approved users by educators, and the school system does not have to be dependent upon the City’s IT personnel for these actions.
Deployment and migration happened quickly
Oulu was able to migrate to Citrix technology and begin using Citrix Endpoint Management in record time– just one month. This was made possible by the XenMobile Migration Service—a service that guides customers from an on-prem XenMobile Server Environment to that of Citrix Endpoint Management in the cloud. By using this method, Oulu Digi was able to migrate without user re-enrollment or reconfiguration. Initially, the team purchased both standard and enterprise licenses. First, the on-premises environment was migrated. Then, the team realized that developing toward enterprise features better suited the needs of the City and that cloud technology was the path to the future. Now, the ultimate goal is to move away from having on-premises infrastructure.
Building a familiar, comfortable environment for end users
The IT Team chose Microsoft Outlook as its default client on mobile devices. This decision was made because Outlook is user friendly and it offers the Finnish language, a must-have for the City.
That decision led to other strategic decisions. The IT team decided not to implement Citrix pin settings, for example, because thousands of devices were already in the field. They didn’t know how the devices would behave if the Citrix pins were enabled and didn’t want to interrupt work being done on the devices that were already assigned in the education sector.
Another key component of the overall infrastructure is Citrix networking technology– Citrix ADC. Citrix ADC helps ensure secure user access and prioritization of the most important network traffic and efficient routing of data during peak times.
In the future, Citrix Content Collaboration will allow the team to securely enable business-class data security for mobile users, yet maintain total IT control. Citywide employees will be able to access, sync, and securely share files from anywhere on any device. They will also have the ability to automate feedback and approval workflows.
Reaching for the clouds and beyond
This project led Oulu Digi to decide to phase out development related to the on-prem environment. Always striving to keep the needs of the population in mind, they determined that cloud technology would lead to ease-of-use and cost savings over the long term. The Oulu Digi team sees Citrix technology as an ongoing part of that journey.