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July 30, 2014

Kent councils on course to save £2.7m sharing services

East Kent Services using Citrix to virtualise district councils' desktops.

By Joe Curtis

Three Kent councils have opted to share services, deploying Citrix as they try to save £2.7m over four years.

Canterbury, Dover and Thanet District Councils will share Citrix mobile workspace technology via East Kent Services (EKS), their shared services provider for customer services, income and payments, to boost IT savings by 42% more than originally conceived.

The move is expected to enable greater collaboration as well as cutting operational costs by using the virtual desktop solution to provide 1,500 IT users with laptops instead of desktops.

Built on Citrix’s XenApp and NetScaler products, the solution provides users with access to all their systems with one log-in, so contact centres use three CRM systems – each on a separate domain – to serve 400,000 residents by accessing all of them with one password.

Timo Bayford, ICT technical systems manager at East Kent Services, said: "One of the key things for us is that IT is seen as an enabler – not a barrier – to transforming ways of working and improving customer service.

"We knew that Citrix would do what we wanted in a way that wouldn’t require hours of user training. It looks and feels exactly like a familiar desktop and once it was rolled out it would be ‘just there’, ready to use, with no surprises."

EKS’s new solution provides remote and mobile access and has led to the councils being able to cut down on the space on their sites which their own services occupy, leaving more site space to rent to other public sector bodies.

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It’s also led to collaboration between groups that previously didn’t work together.

"Project groups can come together and all camp down in the same spot. We’ve even provided Wi-Fi in the canteen so that people can use it throughout the day to work in the ways they wish," said Bayford.

He wants to add IP telephony to the solution next, while EKS is looking at Citrix Sharefile as a method of sharing documents securely.

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