Nottinghamshire abandons Blackberry for Windows 8.1

Nottinghamshire County Councilis planning to ditch its Blackberry estate and replace it with Windows phones, according to ICT service director Ivor Nicholson.

The councilwill hand out 2,000 tablets and 1,000 Windows phones to frontline staff during the next 14 months, he told ComputerworldUK.

Over the last year 100 social workers have been using tablets as part of a pilot to help them work remotely when assessing children and families during home visits.

The social workers were given an iPad, 3G wireless and access to Microsoft Exchange e-mail and calendar, Nicholson said.

The pilot has removed the need for them to go back into the office, type up case notes and print them out between each visit.

Nicholson claimed the move has cut the length of assessments by 90 minutes, reduced travel by 20 percent and improved workers productivity by 16 percent.

Windows wins over iPads

However instead of rolling our iPads more widely, the council decided to opt for Windows devices.

Nicholson said that the decision was made “on the basis that Windows devices fit better into our estate. And it was the preference for users; they wanted the same experience with their mobile as in the office.”

Microsoft has been the council’s technology partner for the last three years, recently implementing SharePoint, Lync and moving e-mail to Exchange from Lotus Notes.

The firm helped Nottinghamshire gain compliance to connect to the Public Services Network (PSN) in June this year.

Nicholson said: “We had a smooth run this year, 2013 was quite bumpy but we learned a lot from that. We’re in the process of implementing Microsoft DirectAccess as a key tool to help enable compliance right now.”

Microsoft is also working on integrating the council’s data and providing reporting tools and dashboards, he said.

‘Dipped toe’ in cloud

The authority has bought from G-Cloud and “dipped its toe in the water” with some cloud services but eventually wants to move its entire ICT infrastructure to cloud, according to Nicholson.

Nottinghamshire recently implemented Office 365 in the 338 schools it’s responsible for, a task he described as “a bit of a learning curve.”

He said the council is now considering whether to roll out Office 365 across its entire estate.

The authority is in the early phases of implementing Microsoft Azure for storage and backup, he added.

However Nicholson admitted his plans to move to cloud have been held back by an upgrade to the council’s data centre two or three years ago.

He said: “Had we not made an investment in our data centre three years ago we’d have moved to cloud more quickly. It was a necessary upgrade. Now it’s a first class data centre, so obviously we want to reap rewards on what we’ve invested. But looking forward cloud is our preference.”

“We can see that the benefits of patching, upgrades and keeping our infrastructure up-to-date would be better and more easily managed via a cloud service.”

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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