Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune is a county council in rural Norway that provides regional services and owns 15 high schools. As part of its project to improve IT efficiency, the council decided to upgrade to the Windows® 7 operating system on its 2,000 computers. As a result of the upgrade, the council is able to improve IT efficiency by reducing deployment time, reduce costs, enhance IT security, and improve user productivity.
Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune is one of 19 county councils in Norway. The county council is responsible for regional development, provides public dental service and transportation services, and also owns the 15 county high schools. The council serves 4,500 high school students and has 1,000 teachers and 1,600 employees.
The county council has 2,000 computers in its network for employees, teachers, and computer labs in the schools. It uses the Windows® XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) operating system and Microsoft® Office 2000. The council uses Novell servers, but is upgrading to Windows Server® 2008 Active Directory® Domain Services in an effort to standardize and centralize its IT infrastructure and improve the efficiency of its IT department. As part of the project, the county council also wanted to upgrade its operating system.
The council has seen an explosion of portable computers in its network in the past three years. Previously the organization used primarily desktop computers. Now more than 80 percent of its fleet are portable computers. “In just a couple of years, we expect that almost 100 percent of our computers will be laptops,” says Tom Sølve Myklebust, IT Project Manager at Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune. “With that many laptops, we need to change our approach to security.” The organization wanted an encryption solution that would help it protect critical data in the event of a lost or stolen computer.
Because a large percentage of its computers have a low memory footprint—only 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM—the county council also wanted to deploy an efficient operating system. By upgrading to a more efficient operating system, the organization also hoped to extend the life of its hardware and reduce costs.
Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune decided to upgrade to the Windows 7 operating system. In April 2009, the county council began a pilot deployment at 8 of its schools. With the help of Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Atea, the council deployed Windows 7 Enterprise Release Candidate to 300 computers by July 2009. After Windows 7 is released to manufacturing, the council plans to upgrade a total of 500 computers by the end of 2009. It will deploy the operating system across the entire organization—2,000 computers—by the end of 2010.
||It used to take up to two-and-a-half hours to install an operating system and software applications on a single computer. Now, it takes as little as 15 minutes.
||Odd Magne Langeteig
Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune
The county council previously used a manual installation process for its operating system and applications for each computer. Now it is building a standard image that includes Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2007 Professional Plus, and the Windows Internet Explorer® 8 Internet browser for its deployment. It is using Windows Deployment Services for its initial deployment and will implement Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to further automate deployment and manage its updated server and client environment.
To address its security concerns with its growing portable computer fleet, the county council is evaluating the BitLocker® drive encryption and BitLocker To Go™ features in Windows 7. With the security enhancements that are built into the operating system, the council will be able to utilize encryption solutions for both hard drives and removable storage.
The county council also is evaluating DirectAccess, a feature in Windows 7 Enterprise that, when combined with Windows Server 2008 R2, would enable users to connect to the council’s network from any Internet connection—eliminating the need for a cumbersome virtual private network (VPN) connection. County council users will also be able to benefit from features in the Windows 7 user interface, including the Windows Taskbar, for a more productive user experience.
With Windows 7, Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune is able to improve IT efficiency, reduce costs, enhance IT security, and improve user productivity.
Improved IT Efficiency
By centrally deploying a standard image, the county council reduced its deployment time. “It used to take up to two-and-a-half hours to install an operating system and software applications on a single computer. Now, it takes as little as 15 minutes,” says Odd Magne Langeteig, IT Architect at Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune. Also, with DirectAccess, IT staff can manage remote computers any time they are connected to the Internet.
The county council is able to extend the life of its hardware with Windows 7, running the operating system on computers with only 1 GB of RAM. “We deployed Windows 7 to some computers that we were about ready to replace, but now we can delay those costs,” says Langeteig. “As a result, we could save up to $300,000 in one year.”
Enhanced IT Security
By implementing BitLocker for full-volume hard disk encryption, the county council will help protect sensitive data in the event of a lost or stolen portable computer. With BitLocker To Go, the council extends that encryption to removable storage devices, such as USB thumb drives. “By using BitLocker technologies, we’re able to address the security concerns that come with an increasing number of laptop computers and USB drives in our network,” explains Langeteig.
The county council can also help users be more productive with DirectAccess—giving users an easy-to-connect option that provides access to the council’s network without a VPN connection. “Users are more productive when they can simply open their laptop, log on, connect to the Internet, and automatically connect to our network without connecting to a VPN,” says Myklebust.
Also, users will benefit from an improved user interface. With the Windows Taskbar, users can “pin” applications and documents, and take advantage of the Jump Lists feature to open recently-used files, folders, and Web sites.