Mobile computing

Barking and Dagenham Council swaps XP desktops for Chromebooks

Cliff Saran

Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council has switched to Google Chromebooks to migrate from Windows XP, which Microsoft will no longer support after 8 April.

The Chromebooks, running Google ChromeOS, will provide access to Windows-based line-of-business applications via Citrix.

Samsung Series 5 Chromebook

The council is working with Google enterprise partner, Ancoris, and its joint venture outsourcing provider, Elevate East London, to roll out 1,500 Chromebooks and 500 Chromeboxes.

The council has estimated that, by using Chromebooks, it will save £200,000 on the cost of deploying new Windows desktops. It has estimated a further £200,000 saving on electricity with the more energy-efficient ChromeOS devices.

Browser-based applications

Sheyne Lucock, general manager (IT), Barking and Dagenham Council, said: "We have adopted an ICT strategy geared to the future, where applications are delivered in the browser."

He said the demise of XP provided a starting point, which created an opportunity to do something different in terms of the way it deployed and delivered desktop applications.

"We already had a significant investment in Citrix, and some line-of-business applications were only accessed via Citrix. We took a view that ChromeOS and the Chromebook device were robust," said Lucock.

Once CESG, the UK government agency responsible for IT security, had developed security standards for councils using the Chrome operating system, Barking and Dagenham Council started replacing XP desktops and laptops with Chromebooks for employees and Chromeboxes for reception desks and shared work areas.

Through Citrix, the council will run a wide range of line-of-business applications that had to be moved from XP due to end of support. Chromebooks will be the default device, but the council will use Windows 7 for specialist scanners and to support accessibility requirements and applications.

Some of its core systems, such as the children and adult care system, are browser-based, and Windows applications can be accessed from Citrix's HTML5 client, StoreFront.

Staff will use Citrix to access these line-of-business applications, but over time the council hopes to migrate from Citrix by moving to pure browser-based applications accessed through the browser on the Chromebook.

Supporting mobile working

We want to future-proof our systems based on how our employees will be working five or 10 years from now

Rupert Hay-Campbell, Dagenham and Barking London Borough Council

"We want to move as quick as possible to native [browser-based] applications," said Rupert Hay-Campbell, information communications technology and information governance officer at Dagenham and Barking Council.

“We want to future-proof our systems based on how our employees will be working five or 10 years from now. They’ll be more mobile, working from home or from various council offices, so they’ll rely on laptops. The applications they’ll use will be web-based, so a device built around a browser makes sense," he said. 

"At the same time, we must also manage council information in strict compliance with UK government security regulations.”

The council is deploying the Samsung 303 Chromebook, which is portable and claims to have a long battery life. It is leaving desktop monitors, keyboards and mice in place, enabling users to plug these in when they are working from a desk.

Over time, Dagenham and Barking Council will also investigate how to deploy cloud applications such as Google Docs or Office 365

To remain compliant with the CESG, users would be able to log in through a virtual private network (VPN) to a proxy server hosted by the council, which would then cone into the cloud.


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