29/01/2016 - Barking and Dagenham – Case Study for ChromeBooks

Barking and Dagenham Logo

When Microsoft’s Windows XP support finished in April 8, 2014, the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham undertook a major migration project to Chromebooks and Chromeboxes ahead of the April deadline date.

The council was previously running 3,500 Windows XP desktops and 800 XP laptops, and was in the process of retiring these in favour of reduced quantities of 2,000 Samsung 303Cs Chromebooks and 300 Chromeboxes, mainly for meeting rooms, reception areas and libraries across the borough.

Barking and Dagenham had already rolled out approximately 350 of these Chromebooks to its staff, and planned to deploy the remaining machines by June, partly driven by the XP support cut-off date.

The Barking Learning Centre One of the major factors in switching to Chromebooks and Chromeboxes was the potential savings in excess of £400,000 compared with the cost of upgrading to newer Windows machines. This offered a combination of lower hardware costs, lower support costs and more energy-efficient devices.

Rupert Hay-Campbell, ICT and information governance officer at the council, explained that Barking and Dagenham would be paying around £200 per Chrome device, compared with £500 to £600 for a Windows laptop and £340 to £350 for a standard Windows desktop. Hay-Campbell also added that the council made further savings as the overall number of devices is now lower, as most staff are using laptops, rather than some individuals having both a desktop and a laptop.

Sheyne Lucock, head of the council's outsourcing contract Elevate East London, explained that the Windows XP support cut-off was the catalyst for the migration to Chrome devices.

"Our strategy is based on the browser. We believe all our business systems, calendar, email and other productivity apps, will be browser based in future," he explained. Therefore we needed to look at whether we continue with an estate that is largely Windows desktop based, so rather sedentary with lots of PCs sitting on lots of desks, or whether we look at this as an opportunity to do IT a little bit differently."

Hay-Campbell noted that the move to Chromebooks was helped by guidance from the government’s ‘IT security’ body CESG, which was published in the autumn of 2013. "This clarified how to do this kind of stuff securely. It gave us confidence that the Chromebooks weren't going to give us problems in terms of connecting onto the central government networks," he said.

Barking and Dagenham Libraries People's Network offers public users with internet access, email, and a range of learning and office resources on 110 Chromebooks and 37 PCs spanning across 6 library branches providing residents and guests with a vast array of customer services from any of these service points.   

Insight Media’s iCAM Workstation Control solution was implemented several years ago in Barking and Dagenham Libraries and has been efficiently managing access to conventional Windows PCs in their Peoples’ Network environment.

When Barking and Dagenham decided to go with the new Chrome devices this required an enhancement of the iCAM solution to allow organisations to manage Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.  These Chrome devices are very different to the existing public PCs but required controls to manage access to these newer devices in a very similar way to conventional public computers. Insight Media therefore developed a solution to provide the same levels of authentication, access control, session restrictions, session management and management information for these Chrome types devices.    

Chrome Devices in Barking Learning Centre

Chrome Devices in Barking Learning Centre

Insight Media working with Barking and Dagenham Libraries created a new Device Management Module.  This Device Management Module implements a new virtual network to manage next generation devices which can use the same existing servers, iCAM database, web interfaces and self-service kiosks in a similar way to conventional Windows PC’s and Mac clients.

Although this is a new module, it is designed and implemented as an extension to the iCAM solution and requires no additional training from the staff as it manages Chrome devices just like Windows PCs. 

The Device Management solution was installed in Barking and Dagenham initially in a pilot site and their feedback was very positive. There were a few minor tweaks required as part of the feedback and development process and the module was subsequently and successfully rolled out to all sites within the authority.

Another key consideration identified by the libraries for using Chromebooks was the additional benefits of chrome providing a much faster speed, in that there is no server to go via, you are on the internet immediately. Vashti Thorne, Customer Services Manager at London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, worked closely with Insight Media and was instrumental in the implementation and testing of the Device Management Module.   

Vashti’s view was that the libraries wanted the ability to book Chromebooks and handle them like any standard PC.  They wanted iCAM to manage these devices and for the Chromebooks to appear in iCAM Workstation Control just like conventional PCs but with a different device name.

Furthermore, it was crucial that staff were able to continue allocating, pre-booking and controlling sessions in exactly the same way on Chrome devices as they were previously used to with Windows PCs. Moreover, with the London Borough of Barking a Dagenham charging an annual subscription for PC time in libraries, it was a pivotal requirement that iCAM could continue to manage these subscriptions on Chrome devices.

Vashti said ‘Working with Insight Media on the Chrome project proved to be an interesting and successful development and was successfully achieved within a very short timescale. The Chrome devices within the libraries have been well received by the public and they find them easy to use’  

Insight Media have had a number of discussions with customers who have been exploring the potential use of implementing Chromeboxes and Chromebooks. Hopefully the success of this Device Management Module in Barking and Dagenham will give encouragement to other authorities who are also considering a similar approach to using alternative devices in their libraries.  

The Device Management Module goes beyond just managing Chrome devices and removes the limitations on what type of devices and form factors are used and managed within libraries using Insight Media’s iCAM solutions.  This now provides libraries with a much wider choice for future public devices and offers many associated benefits.  

If you would like more information or interested in a demonstration of this innovative solution then please contact us on:

Tel: 0844 335 6350

Email: info@insight-media.co.uk