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Kent Police Authority

Success Story

To manage a large number of specialized applications, Kent Police Authority standardised its infrastructure with Novell® solutions to reduce costs, increase security and improve the management of 4,000 workstations across 70 locations. In a recent national assessment, Kent Police received the highest rankings possible for its IT infrastructure and was ranked one of the top five police forces in the United Kingdom.

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Overview

The Kent Police Authority is one of 43 police authorities in England and Wales established by Parliament for the governance of policing at a local level. Kent Police Authority has 6,500 employees, of which 3,600 are police officers, who work in more than 70 police stations.

Challenge

One of the biggest challenges for the Kent Police Authority is the sheer number of applications used to support diverse police activities. The IT staff manage more than 200 applications, many of which are specialised such as those used for intelligence, forensics and crime reporting. The staff struggled to support and integrate a host of different applications running on multiple platforms including NetWare®, Microsoft* Windows*, Sun* Solaris* and UNIX*. Standardising its infrastructure was a clear goal.

Providing employees with fast and secure access to applications was also a challenge, as most users were required to remember multiple passwords. Security is imperative for a police force and Kent Police Authority want to give the right users access to the right information.

Finally, Kent Police Authority lacks support personnel in each of its 70 stations and could easily have had its IT staff on the road full-time to support each location. The organisation needed a solution to centrally manage its infrastructure while providing fast, local support.

Novell solution

"Our systems that are running on SUSE Linux have been immensely reliable. Having an open enterprise gives us flexibility at both ends of the scale-we can change our hardware or software without changing our entire environment or consulting all other vendors."

Mark Williams
Manager of Specialist Services
Kent Police Authority

Kent Police Authority had implemented a custom police application on Linux and was impressed with the results. The success prompted the organisation to select Novell Open Enterprise Server and SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server and begin to move away from several of its proprietary systems.

"We were pleasantly surprised with the stability and performance of Linux," said Mark Williams, manager of Specialist Services for the Kent Police Authority. "We started out with Red Hat*, but the ability to use Novell eDirectory with SUSE Linux gave us an opportunity to easily integrate Linux into our existing infrastructure."

Running Novell eDirectory™ and Novell Identity Manager allows Kent Police to manage user identities and maintain security across its enterprise. Novell ZENworks® provides centralised management for its 3,500 workstations and give users personalized desktops, regardless of their location, based on user identity.

Kent Police Authority also uses Novell GroupWise® to integrate its e-mail, voice mail, fax and SMS messaging for streamlined collaboration.

Flexibility with an Open Enterprise

Kent Police Authority is consolidating its environment as much as possible to Novell Open Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server running on Dell* PowerEdge* hardware. In the past, many of its vertical applications came with specific operating systems and hardware, so creating a standardized Linux-based infrastructure is significantly reducing administrative time and costs.

"The majority of our systems are now available on Linux so wherever possible, we use Novell Open Enterprise Server with SUSE Linux as our default operating system," said Williams. "Rolling out applications on the same hardware and software platform makes everything much easier to implement, maintain and support."

Kent Police Authority runs its main enterprise network on Novell Open Enterprise Server and is gradually moving it to SUSE Linux. The organisation currently runs its Oracle* applications, Web servers and EMC* storage solution on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and is currently migrating Holmes II, its major crime management application. Plans are also underway to move its SAP system to Linux*.

"Our systems that are running on SUSE Linux have been immensely reliable," said Williams. "Having an open enterprise gives us flexibility at both ends of the scale-we can change our hardware or software without changing our entire environment or consulting all other vendors. That makes us much more efficient and saves us a significant amount of money."

Running Linux on low-cost, Intel-based hardware has allowed Kent Police to establish several cost-effective disaster recovery sites. The rsync technology in SUSE Linux automatically replicates files to backup sites.

"We can now set up a disaster recovery site for a fraction of the cost," said Williams. "We've made a monumental transformation with disaster recovery from our days with big hardware contracts."

Kent Police Authority is making the most of open source technology by creating new applications using MySQL*, Apache Web Server, Tomcat and JBoss*. For example, a new project management application created with open source technology gives users a Web-based view of project status. The ability to create custom applications without incurring significant licensing costs helps the organisation make the most of public funding.

"The cost benefits of Linux are great, but the biggest benefits are stability, flexibility and speed of implementation," said Williams. "Linux also helps us create a more interesting development environment for our engineers. We have had 100 percent staff retention over the past 18 months."

Management by Identity

A Novell solution for security and identity is at the heart of the organisation's infrastructure. Novell eDirectory is the central repository for user identity information across its dispersed enterprise and allows the IT staff to manage users according to identity.

"With an underlying identity management solution from Novell, we can provide secure, role-based access to information, much of which is extremely confidential," said Williams. "It would be impossible to manage our enterprise without an underlying identity management solution."

Centralised Management of Remote and Mobile Users

Novell ZENworks helps a centralised IT staff manage 4,000 workstations across 70 locations. The IT staff can deliver applications, updates and patches to its users in minutes. Because Novell ZENworks is integrated with Novell eDirectory, the IT staff can provision workstations to give users applications relevant to their roles and responsibilities.

On many occasions, Kent Police Authority needs to move personnel to the scene of a crime and Novell ZENworks allows the IT staff can image machines in minutes to give officers access to the specific resources they require. With the remote control capabilities of Novell ZENworks, the IT staff can provide fast and efficient support to users at any location.

"Novell ZENworks allows us to service even our smallest stations effectively, without the need to travel to individual locations," said Williams. "We can deliver applications the way we want and when we need them."

Kent Police is also starting to use Novell ZENworks to centrally manage the computers in its police cars, ensuring that officers have updates to the command and control application used to report details of incidents and crimes. Automatic application delivery eliminates the need to take the cars off of the road, which is costly and time consuming.

"We can't imagine life without Novell ZENworks," said Williams. "Remote management with Novell ZENworks is the only way to centrally manage dispersed workstations and respond rapidly to the needs of our officers."

The policy management features of Novell ZENworks allow Kent Police Authority to standardise its workstations and protect against viruses because employees are unable to introduce new software. The organisation also uses the inventory management features of Novell ZENworks to manage its assets and run up-to-date reports at any time.

As part of its centralised infrastructure, Kent Police Authority also uses Novell GroupWise to provide users with consolidated e-mail, voice mail, fax and SMS messaging. All of the applications support open standards and combine to provide a reliable and unified messaging system.

"Novell GroupWise is extremely reliable and we have had no issues with virus attacks," said Williams. "E-mail is a key application because it enables police officers to respond to requests at odd hours. Novell GroupWise helps us build confidence with the public with the ability to respond in a timely way."

Results

"The nice thing about Novell Open Enterprise Server is that we get a Linux operating system with all the benefits of NetWare. Novell Open Enterprise Server works like a dream - even people with no Linux experience have picked it up rapidly. Training has been surprisingly painless."

Mark Williams
Manager of Specialist Services
Kent Police Authority

Consolidating its environment with Novell Open Enterprise Server running SUSE Linux has significantly reduced hardware and software costs. Having a standardised infrastructure also allows the IT staff to focus on a single set of technologies.

"The nice thing about Novell Open Enterprise Server is that we get a Linux operating system with all the benefits of NetWare," said Williams. "Novell Open Enterprise Server works like a dream-even people with no Linux experience have picked it up rapidly. Training has been surprisingly painless."

A Novell solution for security and identity makes it easy for Kent Police to add new applications to its Linux infrastructure and manage users according to identity.

With Novell ZENworks, centralised IT staff can manage workstations across a dispersed enterprise. Kent Police Authority has doubled its number of workstations in the past few years without the need to hire additional IT personnel. Instead, the organization has been able to reallocate IT staff to more specialized roles.

"Novell gives us an open and reliable infrastructure that aligns exactly with where we want to go," said Williams. "We can easily configure, manage and deliver resources, while making the most of our staff."

Kent Police has received rave reviews for its IT infrastructure. In October 2005, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary published assessment report for all 43 English and Welsh forces. Kent Police received the highest ratings possible for IT and was named one of the top five police forces overall.

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