How Government Agencies are Making the Transition to Working Remotely

Apr 14, 2020
James Millington

Author:

James Millington is Director of Product Marketing at VMware End User Computing, working with customers and partners globally to deliver solutions that drive digital transformation with Workspace ONE. He has previously led the healthcare sector product marketing for all VMware solutions with a focus on improved provider productivity leading to improved patient care. Prior to joining VMware, James held product marketing and product management positions at Imprivata and Citrix. James holds an MBA from Oxford Brookes University in the UK.

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Government agencies are having to quickly mobilize workers, but with strict security and compliance requirements.

The following customer stories highlight some of the ways in which government agencies and VMware are responding to enable working remotely.

We hope these stories provide inspiration to agencies and commercial organizations that are trying to enable a remote first culture and find new ways of working.

Delivering secure virtual desktops with VMware Horizon on VMware Cloud on AWS

The first agency has more than 10,000 employees. In the first wave of response, it needed to urgently provide access to virtual desktops for approximately 4,000 users with a goal to subsequently expand for all users. They were able to start with their existing VMware Horizon virtual desktop infrastructure that could deliver desktops to about 2,000 users, leaving a gap of 2,000 users. Getting through any government’s bureaucracy can be time consuming, but these are extraordinary times. In this case, the agency and VMware were able to move through the procurement process within just four hours, with deployment starting almost immediately. Staff from the agency worked with VMware architects and services teams to rapidly design and stand up an infrastructure based on VMware Horizon on VMC on AWS.

The first applications that were delivered through these new desktops were Office 365 and a number of specific applications required by this agency. Horizon on VMC on AWS delivered the FedRAMP compliance needed for the agency to put SBU (sensitive but not classified) information into the system. Users were able to use laptops they already had and take home as the endpoint to connect to their virtual desktop. Information is secured through the use of VMware PIV-D, which enables dual-factor authentication for derived credentials. As the desktops are running in the Amazon cloud and not actually running on the user’s endpoint, no information is stored on the endpoint device, further securing the information.

For this agency, the ultimate goal is to build out their on-premises datacenter to deliver the capacity they need. But with the Horizon on AWS on VMC solution, they were able to start delivering critical services to their users before hardware would have even been shipped – let alone delivered, installed, spun up, tested, etc.

Maintaining critical customer service with VMware Horizon

Our second agency customer operates a large call center with many thousands of users. With employees no longer able to physically access the building, the agency was challenged to maintain the levels of response and service to its customers. As with many organizations, this agency is taking the approach of accessing what it can achieve quickly, and then look at what it can do better.

Union rules meant that the PCs used by the employees could not be taken home from the call center location. Initial thoughts on a solution were to use the ability within VMware Horizon virtual desktops to enable employees to connect from home directly to their PCs. This would have provided a fast method of connecting to the customer service data, but as not all employees had devices at home that would be good for navigating a full Windows desktop, this option was dismissed. And it breached union rules. The current solution is that the organization will deploy virtual desktops to all users, which will build on a current VMware Horizon instance that already hosts thousands of users. Fortunately, the organization already has the skills to scale the existing infrastructure out along with existing datacenter capacity. The call center application will be built into the master image so that users will be able to launch the application natively from the desktop. Chromebooks are currently being tested as an endpoint that can be delivered to every one of their call center workers, so everyone has the same user experience.

VMware is partnering with this agency with staff on the ground to help in the additional architecting and deployment of this Horizon deployment.

This does make you wonder – will this be the end of the physical call center?

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