by Joachim Murat, public sector industry director, EMEA civil government, VMware It was Winston Churchill, one of history’s most prominent wartime figures who said, “never let a good crisis go to waste”. And now, some 75 years later, as the world faces an altogether different kind of battle, the same notion still applies. We are […]
The Municipality of Haarlem is the capital of the province of North Holland. Haarlem is an energetic city with an active business community, committed educational institutions and enterprising residents. A stable and flexible IT environment is indispensable in order to provide optimal service to the more than 160,000 inhabitants.
Updating the data center
The municipal data center and workplace environment were very outdated and no longer met expectations. There was no longer a good basis to shape the further digitization of the municipality. The performance of critical systems lagged, it took a long time for employees to log in and they could only work from home to a limited extent. All this highly affected efficiency and service to citizens. Moreover, it was difficult to respond to the increasing demand for digital services, especially now that citizens consider it normal to arrange their matters with the municipality electronically. In short: the data center of the Municipality of Haarlem needed to be modernized.
A stable, scalable and flexible IT infrastructure for optimal service
The municipality decided to modernize its data center, including a new virtual workplace environment. Thomas van den Hoff, project leader/scrum master at the Municipality of Haarlem, says: “As a municipality, we want to lead the way, but we first had to have the basics in place. That is why VMware partner ITQ made a business case and a design based on our vision, requirements and wishes. The modernized data center consists of a hybrid cloud-ready underlay based on VMware Cloud Foundation and offers the foundation for a stable, scalable and flexible IT infrastructure.”
The municipality of Haarlem wants to use the latest technology to provide optimal service to employees and citizens. At the same time, they naturally want to keep the costs the same. Frank Nijman, Account Manager at ITQ: “Using VMware Cloud Foundation with NSX, their data center is smartly virtualized. Compute, storage and network are no longer managed separately. By virtualizing all these elements, the municipality is achieving an enormous efficiency boost in terms of performance, management and costs. With VMware technology it is possible to integrate management and to automate to a large extent.” This reduces management efforts, makes optimal use of resources and makes scaling easier. The modernized data center gives the municipality of Haarlem the space to sharpen and innovate the quality of the (digital) services.
Work safely anywhere with Workspace ONE
VMware Workspace ONE also improved employee productivity. Haarlem now offers employees a stable workplace with all relevant applications. The result is that everyone can now work safely anywhere, whether at the office, at home or on the road. The municipality currently offers some of the applications via a virtual desktop. For example the heavier applications such as the document management system (DMS) and CAD packages. Other applications, such as Office365 and the e-HRM package, are offered from the cloud via the Workspace ONE portal. And the municipality wants to expand that number over time. The latter approach increases ease of use: employees can use the applications immediately, regardless of the device they are using. In addition, they only need to log in to the portal. Employees therefore do not have to log in separately for each application.
Roll out 1,500 workplaces at once
The rollout of the first departments went according to plan. However, that was before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. At the start of the first lockdown in the Netherlands, the rollout of the solution to enable remote work was accelerated. This was an important test case. In this situation it is even more important that everyone has quick access to the right data and tools, everywhere. In the new environment, the municipality can roll out workplaces very quickly. One week after the first lockdown had been implemented, 1,500 workplaces were rolled out at once. Van den Hoff: “Within a week 100% of the workforce could work from home. As a result, the service to the citizens and businesses in Haarlem has remained at the same level, even in these special times, and that certainly applies to productivity. By opting for VMware Cloud Foundation and Workspace ONE, we as a municipality have taken a five-year leap forward in our digitization.”
The new environment provides additional flexibility, performance improvement, simpler management and increased security of data and applications. Thomas van den Hoff, project leader/scrum master at the Municipality of Haarlem: “We are experiencing a significant performance improvement. The time it takes to start up a workplace has been significantly reduced. And all employees have a workplace where data and applications work seamlessly.” Furthermore, management is simpler and less time consuming, allowing time to be invested in innovation. The IT-team can solve problems quickly, even when the environment is fully operational. All relevant data and tools are available within the environment.
Nijman from ITQ adds: “With the combination of VMware NSX and Workspace ONE, the municipality is at the forefront of the market with its security approach. NSX helps with the segmentation and service-defined firewalls, and VMware Workspace ONE addresses the endpoint management. Instead of a large security shell, the security is now granular. All segments are optimally and individually secured, and with data classification they can provide even more targeted and largely automated security in the long term. All this with central management and without additional management efforts. This gives the municipality much more control over data and its smart security.”
Fulfilling the expectations of employees and citizens, now and in the future
The Municipality of Haarlem is developing its own applications to support a transition to digital citizen services. Citizens and companies can submit or follow applications via the ‘My Haarlem’ application. There is also an internal app for Port Management in the city and a parking app for visitors. The municipality will also implement container technology. The fact that they now have the option to use this quickly and safely is a result of this project. This can be done within two weeks by using Tanzu Kubernetes Grid. This technology enables software developers to work even faster, which results in better and safer apps for citizens and employees.
Van den Hoff: “Thanks to the combination of our modernized data center and the virtual workplace environment based on VMware technology, we now have a stable and flexible basis to optimally support our employees and citizens. In addition, together with ITQ, we have made a major step forward towards the further digitization of our services. As a result, as a municipality we can also guarantee that we will continue to connect well with employees and residents of Haarlem in the future.”
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