Authority believed to be the first in the UK to adopt external Windows Virtual Desktop solution to facilitate seamless remote working.

Agilisys has worked in partnership with North Somerset Council to accelerate the deployment of a cutting-edge Windows Virtual Desktop, hosted in Azure, it will enable up to 800 staff to seamlessly work remotely through the COVID-19 crisis.

In response to the rapidly developing coronavirus outbreak, the teams worked together to deliver the Virtual Desktop solution in just five days, rather than the two months it was planned to take as part of a planned upgrade of the existing virtual desktop set-up.

North Somerset is believed to be the first authority in the country to roll out the external version of Windows Virtual Desktop. The solution makes the full council desktop, including all key line of business applications, securely accessible on home computers, laptops and even tablets. This provides full-functionality homeworking, removing restrictions from staff and helping the council to continue delivering vital services to citizens

The solution can be scaled as required, and additional applications added, as the constantly evolving coronavirus outbreak situation demands. Crucially, the virtual desktop is secure – no data is transferred to a personal computer, and it uses Microsoft two-factor authentication to ensure there’s an added layer of security in place.

“As the longstanding IT and transformation partner of North Somerset Council, we were already working together to replace the existing virtual desktop for users,” explains Paul Stickley, IT Services Director at Agilisys.

“As a result of the coronavirus outbreak pressures, and the need for people to work from home, the council asked us to turn our attentions to providing a home working solution, which was planned in phase two of our rollout. With the want of the council to move quickly, and the support of the North Somerset arm of the Agilisys IT team, we brought forward the deployment and managed to provide them with up to 800 plus desktops through this solution, which is scalable to meet demand, in the space of just five days.”

Explaining the process that was followed to roll out the virtual desktop in five days versus the planned two months, Paul said:

“North Somerset asked me to write an options paper as a result of the increasing COVID-19 crisis, before the situation escalated into what we we’re dealing with now. I presented that to the client, and then in turn, went to the council’s leadership team meeting with the CEO where I presented the options. They asked us to move into a pilot to see if we could make the solution work. By day three of the five days we presented the solution and they gave us the green light to move into a live environment, which we achieved within the next couple of days.”

Stuart Anstead, Head of Partnership Support Services at North Somerset Council commented:

“Agilisys colleagues with support from Microsoft have performed miracles at a difficult time to accelerate the delivery of Windows Virtual Desktop. This has allowed a large number of staff to use their personal computers at home, accessing a full North Somerset desktop to continue the delivery of our critical services for residents.”

Paul concluded: “We’re delighted to play our part in helping North Somerset through this tough time for local authorities. The rapid deployment show’s what’s possible when everybody comes together to work towards a common goal.”