About Municipality of The Hague
The Municipality of The Hague is home to around 450,000 citizens and over 150 international legal organizations, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. The municipal government employs around 7,000 corporate users and provides a wide range of services to citizens and the large expatriate community.
As part of a commitment to eGovernment, the Municipality of The Hague has developed a range of Web-based applications, built on an Oracle database platform. These applications enable citizens to request a wide variety of information and to complete online application forms for services.
"Some of the applications are designed for use by our staff, but the majority are meant to be accessed by the general public," said Krijn de Graaf, IT Manager (AI), Facilities department of the Municipality of The Hague. "With over 700,000 potential users, we had to deal with two main challenges - how to build a cost-effective infrastructure that would offer sufficient availability and performance, and how to manage so many users."
Like many public sector organizations, the Municipality is committed to an open source strategy, avoiding vendor lock-in and proprietary technologies wherever possible. It planned to move away from its existing Microsoft Windows-based infrastructure and wanted an open source partner that could provide enterprise-level support and services.
The Municipality of The Hague had been using Novell products for a number of years, and was impressed with both the reliability and performance of the software and the quality of Novell support.
"Novell is one of the very few enterprise-class IT companies that understands, supports and invests in open source software," said Gerard Wijthoff, Technical Advisor to the Municipality of The Hague. "We were convinced that Novell would be the right partner to help us build a new infrastructure for our eGovernment applications."
The Municipality's in-house IT team installed SUSE® Linux Enterprise server and ported the application, Web and Oracle database servers onto the new platform. The team also deployed Novell Identity Manager and Novell Access Manager™ to provide a central point of control for identity management, using government-issued digital identities for user authentication.
"SUSE Linux Enterprise provides a cost-effective, high-performance environment for our Web applications, without tying us in to expensive proprietary software licensing agreements," said de Graaf. "And without Novell Identity Manager, it would simply not be possible to offer these services to our 7,000 users. Novell software enables us to give our IT staff state-of-the-art tools which enhance their job satisfaction. This in turn helps us to recruit and retain high-quality IT professionals."
With a single point of control for identity management, the Municipality is able to keep its operational costs low. Novell Identity Manager also governs access to internal systems for the Municipality's employees.
The Municipality also uses Novell ZENworks® to manage employees' desktop computers, ensuring that each PC has the right software, antivirus protection and patches. Hot-desking is set to become much more common within the organization, so it is a key advantage to be able to supply users with the right applications, wherever they happen to be working. Moreover, the ability to provision machines and update software remotely saves considerable time and effort for IT staff.
Finally, the Municipality continues to use Novell GroupWise® as its strategic email and collaboration platform for all 7,000 corporate users, who enjoy high-performance communications with excellent security.
By using Novell software across the organization, the Municipality benefits from a simple support structure, managed under a single contract.
"Our Novell support contract gives us a designated engineer who can respond rapidly to any issues we have," said de Graaf. "But in practice, the software is so reliable and easy to use that we have never had any problems! Even when we did the migration from Windows, we found SUSE Linux Enterprise so easy to install that our in-house team was able to complete the project without external help."
The combination of SUSE Linux Enterprise with Novell Identity Manager and ZENworks provides an infrastructure that delivers high performance and availability together with excellent security and simple management. The ability to administrate user accounts and perform software provisioning from a single point of control has significantly reduced workload for busy IT staff.
"Even with 7,000 corporate users, we can manage the entire Novell environment with just 20 IT staff," said Wijthoff. "Novell is helping us provide a high quality service to both the municipal government and the citizens of The Hague, while keeping licensing and operational costs to a minimum. And thanks to Novell's part in our open source strategy, we have an infrastructure that will provide flexibility for the future, too."