About Louisiana Department of Social Services
The Louisiana Department of Social Services is dedicated to helping individuals, children and families achieve safer and more independent lives. The department has 6,500 employees across 138 offices throughout the state.
With a limited government budget, the Louisiana Department of Social Services is constantly focused on increasing the efficiency of its resources. The Department needed to upgrade its operating platform to one that would support custom application development, but that would not require an expensive hardware upgrade. The Department also needed tools for server, desktop and asset management across its dispersed locations.
With 138 offices throughout the state, many employees are required to travel to work with employees in other offices. The Department wanted to improve teamwork and collaboration among its employees, while reducing travel time and costs.
Together with its longtime IT partner, Northrup Grumman, the Louisiana Department of Social Services upgraded to Open Enterprise Server running on SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server.
"We are familiar with Novell's (now a part of Micro Focus) tradition of producing quality products and have had years of great experience with Novell Services," said Chad Israel, technical account manager at Northrup Grumman. "Open Enterprise Server provides outstanding networking and management services on a Linux platform. We want to move to Linux as much as possible in our environment."
The ability to run SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on Intel processor-based servers allows the IT staff to extend the use of its existing Dell hardware. The Department leverages Xen-based virtualization to consolidate servers, and Clustering Services to ensure high availability. Both technologies are designed to interoperate seamlessly with Open Enterprise Server.
"The move to Linux and the ability to develop custom applications using open source technology makes us much more efficient," said Israel. "We have a much quicker turnaround on new applications."
The Department uses ZENworks® Configuration Management to remotely manage workstations across the state. The IT staff can deploy applications to thousands of workstations in a matter of minutes. With policy management features, the Department has secured sensitive information with ability to grant rights to certain individuals or users. Asset Management Services provide reports on software usage, allowing the Department to scale back its licensing agreements for under-utilized software.
ZENworks Linux Management makes it easy to update all Linux servers from a central location. The Department plans to use PlateSpin® technology in its data center to increase server utilization with load balancing and provide higher availability.
"We like how well the ZENworks products work together and how we can manage both our Microsoft Windows and Linux environments with just one management tool," said Israel.
Micro Focus® Vibe allows the Department to create shared online work spaces so that employees can effectively collaborate as a team, regardless of their location. Each team has a central location to share documents, access team calendars and view the status of projects, without the need to travel to another office. The conferencing functionality also allows team members to record and play back presentations.
"Since we implemented Vibe, our employees no longer need to travel to Baton Rouge for meetings," said Israel. "They can stay in their offices or even pop into one of our regional offices for a conference. This solution saves us a lot of money in time and travel."
Vibe helps state employees share information with external users in a secure team environment. This is helpful during times of severe storms or other natural disasters when the Department can provision users from other government offices to stay up to date on emergency relief efforts.
Moving to Open Enterprise Server running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server has helped the Louisiana Department of Social Services make the most of its existing hardware and avoid an expensive hardware upgrade. The Department has consolidated the hardware of 20 offices by 80 percent by moving to one five-node cluster and plans to do the same for the rest of its offices.
The Department is reducing software costs by using open source applications and tools with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, as well as ZENworks Configuration Management which has reduced IT travel time and costs by 40 percent with the ability to remotely manage servers and desktops across the state.
"Novell solutions allow us to provide a high level of service, without having to increase our staff," said Israel. "We can continue to utilize our existing hardware, take advantage of Linux and open source technology, and manage everything from a central location."