Sussex County, NJ, built a cloud-based virtual desktop infrastructure for a mobile workforce. The project earned the organization a spot in the 2015 InformationWeek Elite 100.
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InformationWeek is spotlighting the companies whose innovative solutions to technology and business challenges earned them a place on our 2015 Elite 100. For more on the program, and to see profiles of the Top 10 Elite 100 finalists, click here.
When Sussex County, NJ, submitted an entry to the InformationWeek Elite 100, it was for a virtual solution to a set of very real problems. Putting government employees closer to the work they perform and sharing the cost of doing so among a set of municipalities should make services more effective and affordable for each government entity. Putting that theory into practice is the job of William Kosinetz, CIO of Sussex County.
The impetus for a mobile workforce came from a disaster. Preparing for the worst was a major factor in giving employees more mobility, Kosinetz said in a telephone interview. "[We did this] so I had 100% mobility in a workforce that can work in emergency situations." When Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, that mobility paid off. "[Sandy] took out a lot of the infrastructure in our county. My facilities and some of the emergency facilities were on generators, and we were able to relocate employees to the facilities where they were able to have access to their virtual desktops."
Successfully bringing mobility to workers has an impact when the circumstances are less fraught with disaster, as well. "We have a remote building and the roof was bad, so they went to put a roof on and the tar off-gassing created a bad environment for the workers. We were able to re-locate the employees to dispersed areas and they were able to have their desktops. All the applications and desktops were available remotely." He summed up the situation. "This is how virtualization creates a business continuity plan."
Kosinetz said that the nature of the work done by many of the government employees suggested that a new way of working was in order. "It's mostly because of the workforce we have -- there are mobility issues. We have a lot of health inspectors who inspect wells, septic tanks, restaurants -- they're all under some sort of regulation and the inspectors are always out on the road. We have quite an extensive mobile workforce, so having their desktop mobile is a very nice environment."
Sussex County is in the northwest corner of New Jersey.
Allowing employees to do a significant portion of their jobs in the field aided efficiency, he explained. "Before, they would go out with the clipboard and tablet, come back into the office, and transcribe into the database, so you'd have a lot of wasted time." Putting a mobile desktop in the hands of the employee in the field saves time, vehicle wear and tear, and fuel. All of that ultimately helps the organization save money.
Sussex County has based its desktop virtualization on VMWare Horizon View. Kosinetz is blunt in describing the reason for the choice: "I've evaluated a lot, and that's the one we felt most comfortable with."
In order to deploy the virtual desktops to more than 1,200 users, he became a private cloud provider. "I virtualize the servers and virtualize the desktops," he said. "I create a VLAN and virtualize everything to function on the VLAN. Then I distribute the VLAN to other facilities."
One of the keys to mobile employee productivity is the ability to see and use the virtual desktop on a wide variety of mobile devices. "They use iPad tablets, or a Galaxy tablet, or the Kindle Fire tablet,"
(Page 2: Simplified management saves time and expense)
Curtis Franklin Jr. is executive editor for technical content at InformationWeek. In this role he oversees product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he acts as executive producer for InformationWeek Radio and Interop Radio where he works with ... View Full Bio
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