Jeff Coiner, Director of Information Systems, City of Springfield
With a population of more than 166,000 people, the City of Springfield, Missouri is the third largest city in the state. Like most IT departments for local government organizations of our size, we are responsible for supporting the technology requirements for all the City’s operations. From our Springfield-Branson National Airport to the Dickerson Park Zoo, we literally have operations from A to Z.
Such diverse technology needs that include VOIP phones, point-of-sale terminals, Police & Fire records management systems, 911 Computer-Aided Dispatch, electronic plan review, online payments, and both legacy and cloud-based applications, challenge our ability to maintain standards and security that work for all systems.
Virtualization is Critical
Over the last several years, we have invested in virtualization technologies in our data centers. That investment has paid real dividends in allowing us to provide the back-end infrastructure quickly in a cost-effective and efficient way. Many of the projects we have undertaken during that period might not have been possible with additional expense of physical hardware and software licenses.
We had also considered application and desktop virtualization for some time as well, to better manage and support our client software. About two years ago, we decided to embark on a trial of the Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop software with some specific goals of providing better remote capabilities for our IT staff and one or two other departments. The success of that trial made it apparent that wanted to do more. So, we made it a budget priority to build out the infrastructure that would enable us to provide secure, mobile access to more of our applications.
Citrix is a strategic partner and solution for delivering virtualized applications for the City of Springfield, and it will remain that way because it just works
Citrix XenApp has enabled us to deliver the applications that are hosted on our internal network in a secure manner to any location and any device. Our employees can utilize Microsoft Office products, ESRI’s ArcMap, Laserfiche, MiCollab and many of our legacy, in-house applications from any location with an Internet connection. XenApp has also allowed us to keep up with security patches and software updates more frequently than we could prior to using it.
XenApp Simplifies Software Deployment
One of our recent success stories with Citrix XenApp, was an upgrade to the ESRI ArcMap product. We have well over 100 users of ArcMap across the enterprise. It is a critical tool for many of our employees that deal with the City’s street and sewer infrastructure as well as those involved in construction and business development. Our Geographical Information Systems (GIS) staff along with our IT Help Desk and Network Team were all involved in the software upgrade process. We used other methods to deliver new versions of the ESRI software to employees from manual installations to software distribution tools. They proved to be costly, time consuming and inconsistent. With Citrix XenApp, we have been able to deploy the Citrix Receiver once to our employees, and then use it to provide access to the latest version of the ESRI ArcMap software. Citrix XenApp has allowed us to update software more easily, which in turn allows us to rollout new versions, patches and capabilities faster to our employees.
Citrix is the Catalyst for Remote Access
Offering remote access to applications for our employees that work in the field has been another big win for our Citrix environment. Our Building Development Services (BDS) Department uses a legacy application based in PowerBuilder software. This software contains important information about the numerous development projects they work on. They need to reference details about the project and create notes during inspections that are important to the permit approval process. The software is also used in the office by BDS and other departments to document payments and track the permit process. The challenge we had, since the legacy application wasn’t built to work externally, was delivering it to allow for access in the field without completely re-developing the software on another platform. We decide to use Citrix XenApp.
This method proved to be a win-win for IT and BDS. First, BDS could access the legacy software in real-time from any location which they were unable to do previously. It allowed them to work remotely and provide faster, more up-to-date information without unnecessary trips back to the office. Secondly, IT could streamline the software update process for the legacy application and deliver new functionality faster and more consistently than we could without XenApp.
An investment in Citrix is not a simple or inexpensive solution. It required a high degree of skill to implement and manage across our enterprise. We brought in a team of experts to discuss what we needed and we funded them to help build out the environment, share their knowledge and get us started quickly. We also sent employees to training to make sure they had the knowledge necessary to expand it where it makes sense for us. That investment has already paid big dividends. As we look at new software with the departments we support, one of the first questions we ask is, “Does it work with Citrix?” If it doesn’t, we may decide to look at alternatives because it is that important to us. Citrix is a strategic partner and solution for delivering virtualized applications for the City of Springfield, and it will remain that way because it just works.