The Italian Ministry of Defense sought to upgrade its client operating system from Windows XP to Windows 7 as part of an ongoing effort to centralize and standardize its computer infrastructure and improve IT efficiency. Even with only the first phase of an automated deployment complete, the Ministry is already seeing lower costs, strengthened security, and higher user productivity, while extending the life of its hardware.
The Command, Control, Communications, and Computers Division (Defense Command C4) of the Italian Ministry of Defense oversees computer networks and complex support systems for the Chiefs of the Defense staff, the Technical Administrative division of the Ministry, and the Military Magistrate. The division also manages applications related to connectivity for the country’s armed forces.
In recent years, Defense Command C4 has undertaken an initiative to consolidate and standardize IT resources to support a broad strategic network for national security. As part of this ongoing effort, the division wanted to upgrade and standardize the client operating system for the thousands of personal computers that it manages. The organization had already chosen to standardize its servers on Windows Server 2008 and other core Microsoft software. By upgrading its client computers, Defense Command C4 sought to increase productivity and simplify IT support and management for the Ministry and the armed forces.Solution
To meet its IT goals, in February 2009, Defense Command C4 began testing and then gradually deploying the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system. Commander Maurizio La Puca, Head of Operational Services, which puts him in charge of networks and infrastructure services for the Ministry of Defense, explains the importance of adopting Windows 7: “We see Windows 7 as the final step in the evolutionary path of our systems. First, we brought standardized collaborative and communication services through solutions that use Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. Now, as a result of sound logic concerning our IT operational effectiveness and simplified systems management, all the armed forces can share the services of a single solid platform, optimally built on Windows 7.” The operating system’s ability to support easy large-scale deployment and centralized management of client computers were also key drivers for the upgrade.
||The most prominent advantages of Windows 7 are savings, estimated at 20 percent of our operational costs, when our client-control centralization and fully standardized infrastructure are complete.
||Commander Maurizio La Puca
Head of Operational Services, Italian Ministry of Defense
With the Ministry’s server infrastructure already standardized on Windows Server 2008, Defense Command C4 conducted laboratory tests of the client operating system to see how well the two worked together. These tests included dozens of workstations considered to be particularly critical in terms of operational importance and complex configuration. Also, the division was concerned that the Ministry’s large number of network printers and file servers would make deployment more difficult. However, so few problems occurred in this stage of the project that the division gave its approval for wide deployment.
Defense Command C4 received consulting support from Proge-Software, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, to tackle issues in the initial deployment stage. For wide-scale deployment, the organization is working with Fabaris, a Microsoft Certified Partner, to handle remote installation throughout the Ministry of Defense network.
The initial migration from Windows XP included 1,000 workstations and will include 3,000 client computers during 2010, before reaching the project’s final goal: 10,000 machines running Windows 7 throughout the Italian Military and Technical Administrative Division of the Ministry of Defense. This deployment is concurrent with hardware upgrades as well.Benefits
By deploying Windows 7 Enterprise, Defense Command C4 is able to offer the Ministry of Defense standardized IT operations and efficient management of a network that extends across Italy. The Ministry is also strengthening security, increasing user productivity and satisfaction, reducing costs, and extending the life of its hardware.
Simplified Deployment, Centralized IT Management
La Puca cites automated deployment and flexible capabilities for disk image management as especially helpful features during the project. He says, “The testing stage ensured that we had the expertise necessary for an automated upgrade of the operating system, which was remarkably simplified by the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit.” La Puca notes that the ability to support an array of disk images according to user type has permitted a smooth migration of users’ profiles and their desktop configurations. He adds, “Centralized management has guaranteed standardized installations for all applications and services.”
To strengthen security, the Ministry of Defense is investigating BitLocker encryption technology on some client computers. The Ministry also appreciates the solid application compatibility, higher performance, and boosted security that the Windows Internet Explorer 8 web browser offers when using the Internet or intranet web applications.
Increased Usability and Productivity
Ministry employees have expressed their satisfaction with the effective, modern-looking Windows 7 user interface, and with easier access to resources and advanced tools for individual productivity. La Puca says, “Windows 7 has inspired our users to broaden their knowledge about how to best use the computer tools that are now available to us.”
Reduced Operating Costs, Longer Hardware Lifecycle
The Ministry has already noticed a reduction in IT management costs due to automatic diagnostic and troubleshooting tools in the Windows 7 Action Center, and it expects these reductions to continue as deployment proceeds. Additionally, La Puca says, “The most prominent advantages of Windows 7 are savings, estimated at 20 percent of our operational costs, when our client-control centralization and fully standardized infrastructure are complete. Windows 7 also extends the lifecycle of even our oldest machines, keeping 18 percent of them in service while still providing performance that matches current standards.”
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