Ealing BC provides over 600 distinct services to a multi-cultural community of over 300,000 people and 9,900 businesses in West London. Employing 7,500 staff, the council spends around £700 million pounds per year.
Ealing BC has embarked on a programme of building rationalisation, with the dual goals of reducing expenditure on office space and improving the quality of its services. These are being achieved by means of creating a more flexible working environment for its employees that enables them to work from multiple locations within the Council's offices or from home.
To support its move to a "hot-desking" environment—in which employees can log in at any location and immediately access their own desktop and files—the council needed to improve its ability to administer its estate of PCs.
Existing PC management was largely manual, with engineers required to visit each desktop machine for routine maintenance, upgrades and software deployment. If an employee or team needed to move from one location to another, associated desktop computer equipment would have to be physically moved. This was costly and caused significant delays, effectively putting a financial penalty on flexibility.
"The Novell ZENworks solution from Serco has played an important role in enabling us to reduce the total number of workstations we need. We have already achieved direct cost savings of approximately £250K through the reduction in desktop charges."
Trevor H. Ward
Head of Infrastructure
Ealing Borough Council
Ealing BC targeted a 20 percent reduction in desktop computers, and consulted with Serco, its IT services provider, to identify the best technical architecture for its future streamlined operations. Serco recommended and deployed Novell ZENworks initially across 1,200 desktops.
"This was a very time-sensitive project and Ealing set Serco a very aggressive timetable for completion of the Novell ZENworks rollout," said Trevor Ward, Head of Infrastructure at the Council. "We defined our business goals—greater flexibility, easier desktop management, improved problem resolution—and Serco delivered, on time, an innovative solution based on ZENworks."
Working with Serco, Ealing BC used Novell ZENworks to create two standard desktop images—one for each type of PC hardware in its estate. Rather than manually updating more than 1,200 PCs, the council can now use ZENworks to revise the standard images, then automatically roll out the changes across the entire network. If an application on an individual machine needs to be repaired or updated, the IT team can install the software remotely via ZENworks, again saving time and labour.
Now that all employees' desktops are managed and stored centrally, rather than being held on a particular PC, users can log in from any machine on the network and see their own desktop and applications. They can also log in via secure Web connections and work from home—supporting the Council's goal of greater flexibility and reduced office costs.
The ability to move teams from office to office without moving any hardware has already paid dividends. When a problem made it necessary to relocate the customer call centre, the Council was able to move the entire team to a different part of the building and get them fully operational within just two hours.
"Our call centre is a vital customer-facing tool," said Ward. "With ZENworks, we were able to relocate the team quickly and without putting a heavy burden on IT resources, to keep important services running when problems have occurred. The support from Serco has been particularly impressive, and we see them as a true partner rather than a service provider."
The implementation of Novell ZENworks has given Ealing BC employees far greater flexibility in their working practices, enabling them to log in to their own desktop from any machine on the network. As some employees work part-time or partly out of the office, this has enabled the Council to reduce the total number of computers without any impact on users.
"The Novell ZENworks solution from Serco has played an important role in enabling us to reduce the total number of workstations we need. We have already achieved direct cost savings of approximately £250K through the reduction in desktop charges," said Ward, "and we have also achieved considerable cost-savings through no longer having to physically move and reconfigure hardware when an employee or team moves from one location to another."
With centralised management through ZENworks, the IT team at Ealing BC can now install application fixes and security patches much more quickly and without needing to visit individual computers. As well as reducing IT costs and effort, this minimises the time that employees need to wait for applications to be reinstated.
"Serco estimated that the introduction of Novell ZENworks would reduce calls to the IT helpdesk by 20 percent—and that's exactly what we've seen," said Ward. "This has translated into a substantial reduction in our annual helpdesk costs."
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