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Remote User Office Working

Client: International/Government Organisation
No of Employees: 10,000

Project Overview
The client wanted to provide its employees with the possibility of working from home, without having to provide them with fully equipped laptops or desktops.

The reasoning behind this was:

  1. Costs could be reduce by providing each employee with a “Thin” Client which would only need an operating system and a method of connecting to the client’s office via a “normal” Internet connection
  2. Employee data was kept on their workstation located in the client’s physical office. Data would not be traversing the Internet which would minimise risk of data theft and data loss. Central backups could be carried out within the client’s office
  3. All applications required by the employee to carry out their daily tasks would only exist on their Workstation, and therefore would not require another license for each application (also reduction in costs)

The employee would connect to a Web Portal, using their Two-factor authentication device to authenticate on the Web Portal. Once authenticated, he/she could then initiate a remote connection to their Workstation using a protocol like Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). After the remote connection had been established, the employee was then able to work as if he/she was physically located at their desks using their Workstation in their office.

Infrastructure Requirements
The project used the existing IT infrastructure, such as network, firewalls, two-factor authentication devices and existing employee Workstations with the addition of the implementation of a Remote Access Server to provide authentication, encryption and access to the employee’s Workstation.

Proof of Concept
A Proof of Concept was put in place whereby a significant number of employees, selected from different offices across Europe were participating in the project. Users with different levels of computer skills were selected to obtain feedback for support purposes and ease of use of the concept.

The following standard hardware was given to each employee for the project:

  • Thin Client with Windows XP pre-installed
  • Monitor
  • Keyboard & Mouse
  • Mobile Phone

Each employee was provided with a “quick start guide” to assist them with connecting the hardware together, how to establish a remote connection to their Workstation, contacting the Help Line in the event of an issue, etc.

The Proof of Concept was conducted for a period of 12 months, and relevant feedback from each of the participating employees was obtained which contributed to the revising of the Infrastructure and other changes that could be implemented to assist future users.

The project was deemed a success and the client extended the Remote User Office Working setup to other employees. The client wanted the Remote User Office Working as a Service and no longer a project. This project evolved into a “Standard” service provided by the IT department.

Human Resources and Senior Management were involved in ensuring the necessary approvals and budgets were available for hardware/software, support and technical training.

We were requested to assist with the following enhancements:

  • Technical training for both employees and support teams
  • Technical documentation/material
  • Creation of a standardized Thin Client image

The Client currently has approximately 1000 employees using this service successfully.

Future Concepts
With Virtualization & Cloud Computing becoming more and more important during the past few years, we were asked whether we could document the requirements for virtualizing employee’s workstations and perform a costs analysis investigation