The KRG Department of Information Technology wanted to empower the government’s 19 ministries to standardize their desktop computing environments if they so chose. By moving to Windows 7 Enterprise and Microsoft Office Professional 2010, the ministries are fostering economic opportunity by improving the digital literacy of their workers. They are also creating a standardized desktop environment that is easier to secure and manage.
The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (KRG) has 600,000 employees who work in 19 ministries that serve over 4 million residents in a region larger than the state of Maryland.
Founded in 2007, the KRG Department of Information Technology has been charged with modernizing the Kurdistan Region of Iraq by creating a unified IT policy. It is currently implementing a five-year IT blueprint to deliver e-government and develop information communication technology (ICT) capacity throughout the region.
As part of its modernization efforts, the KRG Department of Information Technology wanted to standardize its desktop software across all government entities. It also wanted to deliver the latest technology to its employees and provide a more secure environment that protects intellectual property rights and guards against malicious software.
"Previously, employees were using a mixture of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010, and it was all haphazardly installed," says Botan Mahmoud Osman, Head of the KRG Department of Information Technology. "With 19 ministries, seven agencies, the parliament, and the presidency, it was extremely difficult to standardize."
In 2011, the Department of Information Technology asked Microsoft to help the government standardize its desktop environment. During a four-day workshop held in June 2011, more than 25 key IT officials from various parts of the KRG government were trained to deploy Windows 7 Enterprise and Microsoft Office 2010.
"We developed a high-level architectural guide that showed IT officials how to automatically migrate existing documents and data from each computer to Windows 7 Enterprise," says Elie Bou Issa, a regional infrastructure consultant with Microsoft Consulting Services. "We had great results, and the government was very happy."
Since then, the KRG Department of IT has installed Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010 on about one-third of the government’s computers. Osman expects to have Windows 7 Enterprise installed on all 10,000 computers by the end of 2012. "The deployment rate was a bit gradual at first, because we wanted each ministry to buy into the idea on their own, rather than forcing them," Osman says. "Our aim for 2011, which we have reached, was to give everybody who wanted to deploy Windows 7 Enterprise the means to do so."
Moving to Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010 is helping the government to achieve its goal of establishing a unified IT policy. It also benefits KRG employees, who are building digital literacy and skills.
Increased Economic Opportunity
Kurdistan’s government employs a large number of citizens in public sector jobs and is embarking on programs to encourage its employees to transition to the private sector.
"We have a high number of government employees in relation to our total population," Osman says. "By coming up to speed on Windows 7 and all the latest technology, our employees are building the skills that the private sector needs to improve IT infrastructure throughout the region."
Another benefit of standardizing the desktop environment on Windows 7 Enterprise is the greater security protection it offers. Using Microsoft Security Essentials, the government is now better equipped to guard against viruses and spyware. Using the Windows 7 product key, the government can automatically activate Windows 7 and make sure the operating system is installed only on legitimate computers for which there are licenses.
"One key allows KRG to activate thousands of copies of Windows 7," says Bou Issa. "If the key gets stolen, KRG IT administrators can call Microsoft and have the key stopped. This prevents people from misusing the key for non-business related cases."
Simplified IT Management
By standardizing on Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010, the government is creating an IT environment that is less complex to manage. "Both our level of control and our ability to manage the desktop environment has increased," Osman says. "The more issues you have in common, the easier they are to resolve."
Faster Deployment Times
Finally, deployment times have been faster than they were with previous operating system installations. Using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit, the KRG was able to automatically install Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010 and migrate employee data-even for ministries that have no Internet connectivity. "Before, it would take at least half a day to install a new operating on each PC," says Osman. "This time, it took around five minutes. It was at least 10 times faster."
Faster deployment means the KRG will be able to achieve its IT goals much more quickly. "As our ministries get new PCs, they’ll be able to deploy them very quickly," says Osman. "All of this furthers our goal of modernizing the government through increased IT capacity."
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