Guest post by Seosamh McMahon, Enterprise Architect at Ervia
Ervia are a commercial semi-state company that provides strategic national gas, water and dark fiber broadband infrastructure and services in Ireland.
Ervia are growing, and growing at such a pace that our 2,000 workforce has the potential to expand by thousands in the next five years alone. However, this kind of rapid staff expansion comes with growing pains.
It’s certainly an exciting time for Ireland and the energy industry as a whole; however, adding larger headcounts to our head offices in Cork and Dublin, as well as offices around the country, has its challenges. These challenges range from securing enough office space to simply equipping employees with the right technology to get the job done.
Currently, employees at Ervia, as well as our subsidiaries Aurora Telecom, Gas Networks Ireland and Irish Water, use Chromebooks with Chrome Enterprise licenses and Citrix. Not only do these devices improve productivity, they significantly reduce IT maintenance. So, when our new employees come onboard, we are confident that Chromebooks with Chrome Enterprise will help them get kick-started. With little set up time, from day one, our new employees will be immediately productive and connected to our systems, no matter which office they’re working from.
Before moving to Chromebooks, we knew we had to replace our declining Windows laptops used by remote employees and staff who travel frequently. Even our virtual desktop software ran slowly on the laptops. Anecdotally, employees expressed that they would waste as much as six minutes just to get to the Citrix login screen. On top of this, the laptop battery life was also dire – our staff just didn’t want to use their laptops at all.
Coupled with these issues, Ervia’s help desk fielded a perpetual flood of calls about boot-up issues, blue screens, and network access. We even had a pile of old laptops just waiting to be repaired – it seemed a criminal waste of resources.
Enough was enough! We decided to approach Fourcast, a Google Cloud Premier Partner, for their much needed help and advice. The Fourcast team were extremely helpful and suggested solutions that would work for Ervia’s specific needs. Our IT resources, like most big companies, are overloaded, so Fourcast’s support helped us efficiently roll out the new Chromebooks.
To begin our cloud-first journey, we replaced 30 Windows laptops with Acer R13 Chromebooks. The feedback was so good, we had a waiting list of people asking for the new Chromebooks. Now we have 200 employees using Chromebooks, with another 300 to be rolled out by the end of 2019. Going forward, every employee who needs to travel for work will get a Chromebook when they join Ervia, or when their Windows laptops need replacing.
Not only has the big stack of broken Windows laptops in the help-desk office disappeared, our support calls have fallen by 75 percent. IT costs have significantly reduced too – an added bonus! With Chrome Enterprise, we can set up a new Chromebook in just a few minutes, and disable devices that are lost or stolen.
Chrome Enterprise and the Google Admin Console also allow us greater control and visibility that we never had with our Windows laptops. Due to Chromebooks’ quick boot-up time we’ve won over many staff members. One of our employees quipped: “That’s the best thing IT has ever done for us!”
Ervia is quickly becoming a cloud-first organisation and Chromebooks will help us move forward on that adventure. Our baby steps towards becoming a cloud-first organisation have just become large adult strides!