Enabling Smart Working in Public Sector
Public services are delivered to the citizen by many different public sector agencies all working in isolation. How much better could these services be if these agencies all worked collaboratively as one team?
Late in 2014 I attended a meeting hosted by my local authority in South Wales. Apart from Cisco, also in the room were two neighbouring local authorities and the health board which covers the region. The four organisations were planning to merge their child adoption services into one combined team to provide a bigger and better service which ultimately benefited the children by smoothing and shortening their journey into the new families. Our role in this was to provide guidance and advice on how the four disparate IT infrastructures of the organisations could support the one combined team. The goal being that employees from each organisation could work in each other’s buildings seamlessly and securely. Crucially, they wanted the user experience to be identical whether in a partner’s building or at their own organisation. This last requirement produced the biggest technical hurdle for us to overcome as it prevented us deploying IPSec or SSL VPN’s, VDI, Terminal Services, etc which are typically employed to give remote users access to their applications. However, through a series of technical workshops, we produced a design which met the requirements and which made maximum use of existing IT assets (including some non-Cisco equipment!) so there was very little additional expenditure required. The design was also repeatable which was good as pretty soon we were contacted by other agencies wanting to replicate this service to enable collaborative working across other regions. In fact the demand for this capability has been so great that we are now working with the Welsh regional PSN (PSBA) operator (BT) to introduce a national service that could support mobility across all the public sector bodies in Wales.
Recently we have seen the GDS Common Technology Services (CTS) team issue guidance to the public sector on Shared Workplaces and Shared WAN Connectivity which primarily aims to support the government’s real-estate consolidation programme. We met them prior to their guidance being released and there was a clear overlap between their vision for shared public sector buildings and the mobility projects we were already working on in Wales. In fact many of the components of our mobility design (shared SSID and LAN, 802.1X, Radius proxy, Dynamic VLAN allocation) were also independently present in their design patterns. Therefore, I have produced a white-paper which incorporates the mobility solutions I have been working on in Wales but is expanded to address the guidance outlined by GDS.