Lancashire Constabulary needed to support frontline policing more effectively by giving officers easier remote access to segregated networks with different security classifications. The force is deploying Windows Server® 2008 R2 with Hyper-V™ virtualisation technology and Remote Desktop Services, thereby avoiding spending millions of pounds on third-party tools. The solution reduces time spent by officers at computers, freeing them for active policing work.Business Needs
As one of the top performing police forces in England, Lancashire Constabulary concentrates on helping its frontline police officers deliver a good service. They work in the community, forging strong partnerships with agencies that can help make citizens feel safer. The constabulary is highly committed to neighbourhood policing and puts a priority on the personal development of its staff.
An important ongoing aim is providing secure access remotely to the force’s principal segregated networks for 5,000 concurrent police users, while maintaining the fidelity of their desktop experience.
The need to segregate the restricted from the confidential networks—the latter being the highest level of confidentiality—is important to ensure business continuity, and the force had been given estimates running into millions of pounds from third-party vendors. Colin Fitzsimons, Senior Systems Engineer, Lancashire Constabulary, says: “In Lancashire, our ultimate goal is to support frontline policing by giving officers and support staff the information and communications technology solutions they need. By being able to switch easily from the restricted to the confidential networks, staff can spend more time delivering a first-class service to our communities rather than sitting behind different desktops at the office.”
Lancashire Police had been faced with extending the use of two physical computers to every desktop to provide an isolated experience between restricted and confidential networks. IT administrators concluded that a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) would deliver a full desktop experience at a lower cost per user than this approach, as well as avoiding the ongoing overheads of managing an expensive infrastructure. An ideal configuration would give users access to restricted and confidential networks, as well as the internet, from one screen. Fitzsimons says: “We wanted to drive out the cost of adding new machines to the desktop infrastructure by using virtualisation where possible.”
By participating in the Early Adoption Programme for Windows Server 2008 R2—and, in particular, Hyper-V and Remote Desktop Services including vWorkspace by Quest Software—Lancashire Constabulary achieved multiple security objectives. Working with Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner Risual on the deployment, the force removed barriers to widespread deployment of virtualised systems.
Fitzsimons says: “With our pilot programme completed, our success criteria for Windows Server 2008 R2 includes having a virtual desktop infrastructure across 104 Hyper-V hosts scaled to support 48 virtual desktops each. Hopefully, we can do better than that in terms of cost reduction. With Hyper-V, we can now re-evaluate our use of VMware and cut the cost of virtualisation.
“Quest Software added value by delivering a solution that provides us with the control to manage and restrict access to multiple networks in a virtualised environment. We can now maintain the confidentiality of our records with the flexibility to alter access when necessary.”
Alun Rogers, Technical Director at Risual, says: “With Hyper-V, Microsoft has a strong VDI solution. We only need to manage a handful of images, and server and desktop management can be centralised instead of being devolved to each of the police divisions.”
By using a VDI, the force plans to extend the life of its existing desktop estate, which was originally slated for replacement with Microsoft thin clients in 2009. Fitzsimons says: “By putting in VDI centrally, we no longer have to replace 1,200 desktops that had reached the end of their life cycles—it would have been a time-consuming and expensive project. We are also identifying other business areas and solutions in which to use Windows Server 2008 R2, including the Active Directory service.”
Lancashire Constabulary is confident of achieving its principal aim of ensuring segregation of its key networks, while allowing its frontline officers to access confidential and restricted messaging from a single screen. Although not yet fully deployed, the Microsoft VDI is forecast to reduce operating costs significantly and will extend the use of existing assets. Fitzsimons says: “Furthermore, if we had segregated our networks with a third-party solution instead of Hyper-V, the bill could potentially have been millions of pounds.”
- No specialist virtualisation technology needed. All the core virtualisation tools that the police force requires are supplied by the Hyper-V environment without having to use third-party vendors such as VMware.
- Simplified licensing costs. The constabulary’s Microsoft Enterprise Agreement for Volume Licensing covers all the necessary software requirements to ensure network segregation.
- Lower carbon footprint. When fully implemented, the VDI is expected to reduce electricity costs and therefore contribute to the force’s green initiatives and carbon reduction targets.
- Lower operating costs through centralisation. By managing networks, desktops, and servers centrally, the IT team will reduce the need for decentralised units in each of the police divisions, freeing technicians for higher value work.
- Future hardware savings. Lancashire Constabulary will soon have a highly scalable, cost-effective infrastructure. A small number of new physical servers running virtual machines will cost far less than the same number of physical servers.
- Flexible, secure working. Police officers working remotely with other statutory providers, such as local authority youth offender teams, will enjoy the same secure access to applications as colleagues at headquarters.
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This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published October 2009. Updated April 2011.