The Solomon Islands comprises 147 inhabited islands within the 992-island archipelago. With a population of 550,000, the cultures, languages, customs, and history of the Solomon Islands are diverse.
In 2003 the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) implemented Citrix technologies as part of its initial response to ethnic tensions. Facilitating greater collaboration between the RAMSI peacekeeping deployment, the Solomon Islands Government, and its Ministry of Police helped establish an effective communications network capable of stabilizing a multi-province police presence.
“Incorporating Citrix technologies into our IT infrastructure has delivered a people-centric service when we needed it most. This platform has underpinned our transition to a remote and mobile workforce, remaining secure and online for cross-functional government needs,” says Steve Erehiru, Deputy Director - Projects, Information Communication Technology Services, Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Solomon Islands Government.
When it came to streamlining communications, the Solomon Islands Government faced a series of geographic communications challenges. Its police force and other government departments were located across various islands. The Solomon Islands Government wanted to establish a real-time secure communications network for the Ministry of Police, no matter where they were located.
Fast forward to today, and with the continued implementation of Citrix technologies, the Solomon Islands Government’s workforce and external advisors can operate remotely from any location.
The Citrix platform can be connected by a mix of cable, fiber, and satellite communication technologies to deliver the information needed for cross-functional and secure government collaboration in a cost-effective manner. The whole of the government network has been designed to support a distributed workforce, relying on remote connectivity and easy implementation across multiple locations.
For Steve Erehiru, the Ministry of Finance and Treasury’s Head of ICT, the Solomon Islands Government has overcome the initial set of challenges with the continued rollout of Citrix technologies.
To leverage its existing network, Steve and his team worked with Citrix Service Provider, IT4SME. The guidance and solution advisory services from IT4SME simplified the existing Citrix platform to create a more efficient service. Together they have implemented Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops and Citrix ADC for the secure delivery of data to workers’ devices. Citrix ADC complements the additional security devices and tools already in operation.
To date, IT4SME has completed several upgrades, including the recent Citrix ADC enhancement to deliver a secure interface between staff and authorized personnel needing to access the government network resources from anywhere.
“We were extremely impressed with how IT4SME was able to implement a Citrix solution that has greatly improved how government users and advisors can work remotely from the device which suits the situation. It’s easy to log on. You could say by fine-tuning the ‘always-on’ nature of the police force’s requirements within Citrix, this has prepared our response to a global health crisis,” says Steve.
The Citrix virtual desktop solution has transformed how government workers communicate. Steve explains, “Before our Citrix platform, government workers in remote locations relied on data delivered by traditional letters carried by ships and planes. By digitizing our communications whenever possible, our transaction time is reduced by almost 100 per cent. This is a key productivity tool.”
General positive feedback from within the government indicates the Citrix infrastructure is providing effective service delivery. Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops has transformed how government workers can log on to their desktops and thin clients from home. For Steve, it was a fast pivot to keeping workers out of the office – and keeping them safe. As it responded to COVID-19, daily use of the network skyrocketed from typically 80 remote sessions to all of its 8,000-workforce working online.
The robustness of the network was highlighted during the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown. “Citrix technologies have enabled geographically remote offices to connect back to our core data center. This was important when multiple government departments, including the health, police, and immigration teams, needed access to data to work together to protect our international borders,” Steve comments.
With Citrix ADC and its existing license arrangement, an additional satellite dish in the capital, Honiara, was all that was required to spin up new virtual environments for cost-effective and secure internet access – all within a seven-day timeframe. The Citrix platform provided the robust ability to connect the remotely located teams back to the capital without adding hardware and additional security devices.
For the 35-strong IT team, Citrix is delivering new levels of productivity. “By centralizing our data and applications, we can manage the network more efficiently. This streamlined adding government departments quickly to the Citrix network to respond to COVID-19,” Steve outlines.
From a communications perspective, the centralized data in the Citrix platform meant information was shared quickly and more efficiently as the Solomon Islands responded to the health crisis. Steve agrees that Citrix is delivering on its ‘people-centric’ approach.
“The Ministry of Public Service is responsible for all of the Solomon Islands Government staff. It has its system, which we can easily push out to remote locations via Citrix virtual desktop – creating an environment just for them. This would deliver the applications, systems, and data each time they access the network. Citrix is a great IT tool to plan for this delivery,” Steve says.
Citrix Service Provider IT4SME has established a training lab onsite for the Solomon Islands Government IT team. “We are planning for the future by increasing our Citrix capabilities within the team,” says Steve. “This has seen us triple our capacity to support Citrix ADC, plus increase our certification for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.”
For Steve, this is in line with the roadmap for Citrix technologies playing a key role in continued digital transformation and the secure delivery of government services.
The Citrix environment was initially established for our police force. However, today we would have around 8,000 government users, external advisors, and international diplomatic teams accessing the network daily. Over time we have upgraded our Citrix platform technologies to deliver the high availability our network and users require, whether they are here in the Solomon Islands or anywhere in the world.