Publiceret: 1/11/2007
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Australian Customs Service Windows Vista Helps Australian Customs Improve the Security of Its Mobile Workforce

The Australian Customs Service (Customs) wanted to improve management and security for 5,800 client systems including 600 executive notebooks used in the field for intelligence gathering, the majority running on Windows® 2000 SP2. IDC conducted a pilot deployment and a business-value case study with a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis, and showed how upgrading to Windows Vista™ would provide these benefits.
The analysis indicates that when Customs upgrades its PC base to Windows Vista, it can anticipate saving U.S.$262 per PC annually in reduced IT support costs and user labor.

  • IT labor is projected to decrease by 23 percent or $51 per PC
  • User labor is expected to decrease by 25 percent or $211 per PC

IDC estimates that Customs will realize a Return On Investment of 203 percent and a payback period of 5 months, assuming that ACS uses its existing hardware refresh cycle for the upgrade.


The Australian Customs Service (Customs) manages the security and integrity of Australia's borders from 94 locations in Australia. It works closely with other government and international agencies to detect and deter unlawful movement of goods and people across the border. Customs, a national organization, employs over 5,000 people in Australia and overseas. It runs a fleet of ocean-going patrol vessels and contracts with two aerial surveillance providers for civil maritime surveillance and response. Customs is responsible for managing an annual budget of U.S.$750 million.

* It [Windows Vista] was a strategic imperative to give mobile workers the same level of services wherever they are. Whether they are on the wharf, in a patrol boat, or in an airplane and not just tied to a desk. *
Murray Harrison
CIO, Australian Customs Service
To fulfill their mission, Customs executives and field agents are frequently required to work outside the office. Twenty-five percent of the Customs workforce is mobile a majority of the time. One of Customs’ concerns with respect to mobile computing has been the safety of data stored on notebook computers. A third-party application has, up to now, been used for securing laptop data. However, this application has to be set up in the office within a LAN environment, which renders its use by mobile users very cumbersome. Users have to manually record intelligence gathered in the field and then re-key this information once back at their desks.

With the Windows  Vista™ operating system, field intelligence can be collected in the field and uploaded in real time. Once Windows Vista is deployed broadly, Customs expects to provide mobile workers with the same level of services irrespective of whether they are on a wharf, in a patrol boat, in an airplane, or in the office. 

Currently Customs operates 5,800 systems, 600 of which are mobile units, in a Windows® 2000 SP2 environment. For its planned deployment of Windows Vista, Customs aims to deploy Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 into its environment.  
In the current environment all notebooks use firewall and VPN remote connectivity, but desktops are not firewall protected.  Both desktops and notebooks are covered by anti-virus, anti-spyware software, and network access control.

The last major deployment at Customs involved 5,000 desktops and 100 notebooks. All were upgraded to Windows 2000 SP 2 and required 29 disk images.


Windows Vista has been deployed in a test lab environment through a 50-user Windows Vista pilot involving 40 desktops and 10 notebooks. Deployment was performed through the provision of gold images to the hardware vendor prior to delivery to Customs. Three of the 94 Customs locations were involved.

* People want to use it [Windows Vista]; they don’t have to be told to do so. One of the IT Department’s KPIs is customer satisfaction and all government departments are ranked against one another. Windows Vista can help improve their ranking. *
John Rodgers
Director, Technical Infrastructure Support
SMS 2003, which was used as the application management system, and WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) greatly simplified the deployment experience. The use of a single file to configure settings provided a simple and holistic view of customizations, allowing easier management of SOEs. In comparison, the deployment of Windows 2000 SP2 had required the creation of 29 images
The Windows Vista environment allows remote support and will result in lower support and maintenance costs. “Moving from the current unmanaged environment to the common managed environment is expected to lower support and maintenance costs. Today, every problem requires a physical one-off visit. With Windows Vista, it [support] will be centralized, and will be able to deal with and fix issues remotely; we are also moving from 29 [disk] images to 1,” said John Rodgers, Director, Technical Infrastructure Support.
The Windows Vista rollout has led to significant improvements both in the office and in the field. In addition to an easy and seamless mobile process, there have been numerous improvements in security and infrastructure. Moving to Windows Vista has led to a single, stable, and more reliable environment. Due to the pilot project’s success, Customs is considering going all-mobile, all-notebooks for executives, travelers, and field agents alike. Interest in PDAs, push-e-mails, and smart-phones is also high. "It [Windows Vista] was a strategic imperative to give mobile workers the same level of services wherever they are. Whether they are on the wharf, in a patrol boat, or in an airplane and not just tied to a desk,” says Murray Harrison, CIO, Australian Customs Service

Since the Windows Vista deployment, no virus attacks have occurred. The level of satisfaction with Windows Vista features such as Windows Defender, Windows BitLocker™ Drive Encryption, and granular Group Policy controls is very high:

  • Windows Defender: A free program that safeguards computers against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software. This feature elicited the highest level of satisfaction from users.
  • Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption: Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption is a data-protection feature available in Windows Vista Enterprise and Windows Vista Ultimate for client computers. This feature also scored the highest level of satisfaction from users. 
  • Group Policy: This long-existing Windows feature has been significantly enhanced for Windows Vista. For example, classes of users can be prevented from using USB connections, avoiding one of the most commonly exploited breaches in security.

Cost savings from increased productivity or avoided third-party software purchases have been estimated at U.S.$192 per desktop.

Significant daily time savings associated with Windows Vista have also been achieved, due to such improvements as a self-tuning network stack, enhanced support for IPv4 and new support for IPv6, and native Wi-Fi. Citing the higher throughput of Windows Vista networking stack, IT staff says that once time-consuming tasks can now be performed in minutes:

  • Network setup: 15 minutes
  • Network Explorer: 25 minutes
  • Network speed adjustment: 30 minutes

Exhibit 1
Windows Vista Deployment Cost per PC
Users reported that they were experiencing 54 percent fewer software problems with Window Vista than with their previous environments. Overall, both IT executives and end users say they have been extremely satisfied with the reliability and stability of Windows Vista. Those involved in the pilot are also impressed with Windows Vista support, including improved remote maintenance capabilities and more comprehensive diagnostic tools provided with the operating system.
IT executives at Customs say the enterprise configuration and deployment of Windows Vista is vastly improved and simplified over similar processes for Windows 2000 SP2.  They add that their IT staff is keen to use the Windows Vista deployment tools and can, at a glance, identify differences, discrepancies, and errors with configurations for different environments within the organization.

Security features are another major improvement, especially those associated with Windows BitLocker. Currently Customs employs a hard-to-use third-party application for securing data on laptops, which is a very cumbersome practice for users. Windows Vista users at Customs were able to work securely with no extra steps due to native security software, and as a result were also able to data-enter information directly into applications running at the main office.

Based on its initial test deployment, IDC estimates that it will cost ACS $73 in IT Labor per PC to deploy Windows Vista throughout its entire organization.


Based on an analysis of current desktop support operations and the results of its Windows Vista trial, Customs can anticipate reducing annual IT labor support costs by 23 percent overall (29.7 percent for service desk and 20.4 percent for desktop support). The cost of downtime will also decrease about 31 percent organization-wide. In addition, IDC research with users in organizations of similar size as Customs’ have shown that user time spent in self-service tasks will be reduced by 25 percent, generating $200 annually in user productivity savings for each user.

Exhibit 2
Windows Vista Deployment Cost and Benefits per PC
With Windows Vista, Customs is experiencing a vastly more stable and efficient IT platform with enhanced security:

  • Increased end-user productivity. A new, highly intuitive interface allows users to find and use information quickly and efficiently. New desktop search and organization technology such as Virtual Folders help employees quickly access client information that had previously been time-consuming to find. With Windows Vista, the average search takes 65 seconds as opposed to 120 seconds with the previous operating system, a net time savings of 55 seconds.

  • Enhanced security. Windows Vista links software and hardware safeguards to reduce security risks. Customs mobile workers are using Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption to safeguard sensitive field data in the event of loss or theft of a computer. Windows BitLocker prevents a thief who boots another operating system or runs a software hacking tool from breaking Windows Vista file and system protections or performing offline viewing of the files stored on the protected drive.

  • Better allocation of IT resources. New IT management features in Windows Vista help reduce the time necessary for desktop support and administration. Moreover, centralized tools reduce total deployment time, saving IT administration and consulting costs. For example, the average time required for troubleshooting peer PCs with Windows Vista is 114 minutes per month per PC, down 42 minutes from the time required with the previous operating system, due to improved diagnostic tools and the ability to access remote desktops and notebooks in a secure, uniform, and high-speed manner.

  • Improved data synchronization. Windows Vista has made it easier to directly enter data over a secure connection to the main office, allowing better coordination between mobile workers and the three locations involved in the pilot. “Mobility improvements in Windows Vista were a key consideration. Currently, field intelligence gathering is delayed because it must be manually recorded or entered on a laptop and then re-keyed or downloaded to necessary apps. With Windows Vista this information can be collected in the field and uploaded immediately,” explained John Rodgers, Director, Technical Infrastructure Support.

  • Easy and seamless mobile process. With the Windows Vista improvements in data throughput, security, and maintainability, Customs is considering going all-mobile, all-notebooks for executives, travelers, and field agents alike.

  • Improved IT Infrastructure.  The combination of improvements in stability, communications, security, and maintainability has enabled broader use of technology in all the varied locations in which the ACS needs to operate. “We have been extremely happy with the reliability and stability of Windows Vista,” said John Rodgers, Director, Technical Infrastructure Support.

Customs has developed significant plans for expanded use of its mobile PCs and for the acquiring of new mobile PCs, based on the results of its pilot project with Windows Vista, and is moving over time towards all-mobile operation. Customs plans to run Windows Vista on all its new PCs and notebooks and will develop a migration plan for existing PCs so that they can also run Windows Vista. IT plans to first deploy 100 client systems by December of 2006 and plans then to launch a full rollout for the department in February 2007. “People want to use it [Windows Vista]; they don’t have to be told to do so. One of the IT Department’s KPIs is customer satisfaction and all government departments are ranked against one another. Windows Vista can help improve their ranking,” concluded John Rodgers.
Windows Vista
Windows Vista can help your organization use information technology to gain a competitive advantage in today’s new world of work. Your people will be able to find and use information more effectively. You will be able to support your mobile work force with better access to shared data and collaboration tools. And your IT staff will have better tools and technologies to enhance corporate IT security, data protection, and more efficient deployment and management.

For more information about Windows Vista, go to:


For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

For more information about Australian Customs Service products and services, call +61 2 6275 6666 or visit the Web site at:

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
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