DICTU and Citrix build flexible, personal and productive environments .
Government departments can easily become entrenched in traditional processes and practices but in the Netherlands, new thinking is challenging the accepted concepts of IT service delivery, and Citrix is the catalyst for the change.
Founded on an ‘anyplace, anytime, anywhere’ concept, the new way of doing things is being promoted by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (DICTU), which is part of the Dutch Government and is based in The Hague. It is primarily being used within the IT department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which has 14,000 employees and also works for the Ministry of Agriculture and various organizations such as the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority and the Telecom Agency.
Domain Architect at DICTU, Koen Van Maaren, explains: “We are too focused on the workspace and on the device and we need to change, to look at it from a data and workload perspective and not from the classical viewpoint of the computer operating system. We want to detach the applications from the OS and detach the operating system from the device so everything is on its own and is flexible. We prefer delivery to be like a web application, so you only need a device and a browser to use the application in a secure way.”
Following a ten-year association with Citrix, DICTU started the change two years ago, when the outsourcing contract for its legacy workspace solution was ending. It needed a new solution that would change the traditional perception that a workplace has to be at the physical location where the work is done. It wanted to create a ‘cloud workspace’ and Citrix had the tools to set up everything and make it transparent so that it complies with the laws and regulations that must be adhered to.
DICTU’s new environment is built on the Citrix Workspace platform, incorporating Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops and management of its mobile devices, and is delivered from the Cloud Workspace. Moving to the cloud is seen as an important differentiator, particularly since many large suppliers are increasingly delivering cloud-only propositions.
Implementation took eight months and was incremental, with up to 1,500 users migrated over each weekend, up to the present complement of 14,000 users. Citrix assisted, as did Microsoft, which provided the Azure management system and Microsoft Office 365 with back-office services such as Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint. There are also plans to integrate Microsoft Teams. Courses and workshops were arranged to promote user-acceptance.
“We wanted to enable people to work from home, on the train, everywhere, with one user interface and one user experience over all those platforms, and Citrix enables us to create a user experience that is more or less the same everywhere,” explains Van Maaren. “For a project of this size, it is important that you work with a partner that can offer what you need now and will need in the future. Citrix is that kind of partner for DICTU because our two propositions are compatible. We were attracted to Citrix Workspace by the hosted apps concept and the fact that we could give our users a browser-based work environment and did not necessarily need to deliver a complete workspace with an operating system.”
Flexibility was the watchword for the project with a requirement to meet the needs of diverse users, a wide range of work types and performance requirements and, importantly, the expectations of many employees who just wanted that flexibility.
“Now, from a management point of view, we can do things more quickly. The process to publish an application and distribute it to our users is much easier. Also, the deployment of new workspaces for new customers is quicker and much easier because we have a lot of templates and default settings that we can roll out to our customers.”
For security, Citrix enables the ministry to keep all its data within the boundaries of the data center because it is server-based and the organization is also planning to implement a security suite to further protect data. Azure Information Protection is being considered.
Although it could not have been foreseen at the time, the Citrix implementation has helped the ministry to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, as Van Maaren explains: “I think the Cloud Workspace came just in time because it enabled all users at the ministry to work from home without any real difficulties.”
Over 90% of the workforce are currently WFH (working from home) but although the offices still have over 6,000 thin clients, Van Maaren believes that even when the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled, the ministry will continue to support working from home and is unlikely to go back to a high level of office-based working.
In the future, DICTU will move from a workspace that is optimized for employees to a workspace that optimizes itself, based on who the employee is, what they do, and where they go. That will make the work of DICTU more pleasant and enable this government service to work even more productively.
“In the last couple of years, the Citrix proposition has become broader than just applications and desktop virtualization. With applications like Citrix ADC (formerly NetScaler), the way to deliver applications to users and to customers with Citrix has become much more flexible and more customizable,” concludes Van Maaren.
Citrix (NASDAQ:CTXS) aims to power a world where people, organizations and things are securely connected and accessible to make the extraordinary possible. Its technology makes the world's apps and data secure and easy to access, empowering people to work anywhere and at any time. Citrix provides a complete and integrated portfolio of Workspace-as-a-Service, application delivery, virtualization, mobility, network delivery and file sharing solutions that enables IT to ensure critical systems are securely available to users via the cloud or on premise and across any device or platform. With annual revenue in 2016 of $3.42 billion, Citrix solutions are in use by more than 400,000 organizations and over 100 million users globally. Learn more at www.citrix.com/en-gb/.
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We wanted to enable people to work from home, on the train, everywhere, with one user interface. Citrix enables us to create a user experience that is more or less the same everywhere.