The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) governs the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ). This duty-free development zone attracts vital global investment to Jordan. ASEZA wanted to implement a more reliable operating system and have more control over the applications available to employees. It cut hardware costs by 50 percent by deploying the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system, and now also enjoys improved security and increased system performance.
Launched in 2001, ASEZ is a duty-free development zone in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Governmental and administrative services are provided by ASEZA, which comprises six ministries, each responsible for a specific area of regulatory or operational work. Omar Oduibat, Information Systems Director for ASEZA, says: “IT plays a crucial role for ASEZA. We’re seen as one of the most cutting-edge organizations in the region, and this is a major reason businesses come to trade in the zone. It’s important that we adopt new technology early.”
As part of this drive for the latest technology, ASEZA wanted to upgrade its operating system to benefit from security advances. ASEZA processes highly sensitive data about the companies that operate in the zone, and wanted to ensure that this information could be viewed only by authorized employees.
Oduibat also wanted to exercise greater control over the applications that were installed on clients. “Employees could download and install applications from the Internet. As a result, people were using different versions of the same software, or different, incompatible applications,” says Oduibat.
ASEZA wanted to minimize the cost of implementation, which proved expensive in the past. During previous upgrades, the organization was forced to change its hardware at the same time as the operating system. Oduibat says: “Usually, we’d have to buy more memory, or put in faster processors. Sometimes, we’d have to buy new machines.” These costs added up—an expense the organization hoped to avoid.
The authority also wanted the transition from the existing operating system to be easy for employees. “We didn’t want any drop in productivity when we implemented the new system. It needed to be deployed quickly and be intuitive enough for users to start using almost straight away,” says Oduibat.Solution
In the first quarter of 2009, ASEZA engaged with Microsoft and Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Convergence Consulting and Technology, to deploy Windows 7 across 500 desktop and portable computers. “We have a good relationship with Microsoft—it understands our need to be on the cutting edge of technology,” says Oduibat. “This project was the first implementation of Windows 7 in Jordan, which demonstrates our dedication to the most up-to-date solutions.”
ASEZA talked to several different partners, but was confident that Convergence was the right choice. Oduibat says: “Convergence demonstrated the most expertise and support, and the greatest commitment to the project. The team traveled to the zone to meet us several times and presented a high level of flexibility.”
ASEZA used Windows Deployment Services to install the operating system across the business. Oduibat and his team created a standard image of the operating system, applications, and security settings to be installed on clients. This image was implemented overnight, so employees could start using Windows 7 as soon as they came into work the next day.
Windows 7 includes security features such as AppLocker, which ASEZA uses to help ensure employees only access applications for which they have authorization. “AppLocker is also a valuable tool to make sure that every user in the business has the same version of an application to minimize compatibility issues,” says Oduibat.
Microsoft and Convergence collaborated with ASEZA to train employees on the system. This included opening a Microsoft IT Academy in the zone. “Convergence trained our employees on how to use Windows and Microsoft Office 2010,” says Oduibat.
The IT Academy is providing training to employees who will become trainers themselves. As an added service to businesses in the zone, the IT Academy will soon be available to all citizens in Aqaba.Benefits
Windows 7 has increased user productivity, and is helping ASEZA provide better service to the businesses that operate in the zone. It was easy to deploy on existing hardware, and is proving to be more secure, reliable, and cost effective.
Improved security. “AppLocker gives us control over what software users can download and install, making the system more secure. We can be sure that all employees are using compatible, authorized applications,” says Oduibat. This has led to a reduction in the downtime they experience, and helps ASEZA to provide a more consistent service to businesses that operate in the zone.
Increased reliability. In addition, ASEZA has more protection against viruses through the security enhancements built into Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8. “We found Windows 7 to be very stable. The number of support and maintenance requests the IT team receives has dropped considerably,” says Oduibat.
- Optimized power use. “One of the best features of Windows 7 is that it only uses the power it needs at any given time, which means we only pay for the power we need.” says Oduibat. This is also helping ASEZA reduce its carbon footprint.
Seamless transition. Windows 7 was easy to deploy across the organization. Employees went home, and when they came to work the next day, it was fully functional. “People like Windows 7, and so do I. It’s intuitive and easy to use.” says Oduibat.
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