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Leeds' amazing cash-slash plan: BYOD and that cloud thing

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Leeds City Council's ICT department is stepping up its efforts to help save the council money in the medium to long term. This will include the introduction of new IT asset management software and potential further development of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) options for employees and council members.

A series of decisions are due to be made over the coming months as part of ICT Invest to Save and Cost Avoidance initiatives, which are intended to deliver services more efficiently and save money in the long term. In terms of these overall efficiencies, this year Leeds has to find £55m of savings on top of £90m last year and further significant savings are expected to be made over the next four years.

Candidate services under consideration include weighing up Leeds' options to upgrade the IT Asset Management software currently provided by the council's existing Centennial solution.

The council has already made a strategic commitment to Microsoft's technology platform and is now considering whether Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) will deliver a sufficiently robust asset management capability in addition to undertaking software patching and software distribution.

Dave Maidment, head of ICT strategy and commissioning, explained: "It's about consolidation of applications and services, and this is just one example of where a single software solution can potentially solve a number of operational challenges and save money."

On its BYOD plans, Leeds will shortly be examining how council employees and members may be able to adopt a "Bring Your Own Computer" approach, extending the council's BYOD current efforts beyond smartphones to laptops and tablets. Over 6,000 council employees are currently supplied with corporately owned mobile phones, 800 of which are using smartphones running on Windows and Android operating systems.

In addition, over 200 BYOD devices in the shape of personal smartphones and tablet devices are being securely managed by the MobileIron MDM product.

MobileIron is being deployed to manage the corporate smartphone estate as well, says Maidment: "It's another example of where we are looking to use a single solution, in this case to manage corporate and personal devices. As more people elect to use their own devices, the council saves money."

Another key plank of Leeds' ICT approach is connectivity. The council is currently assisting with the due diligence phase on the Yorkshire & Humberside Partnership Management Board's plans for Public Services Network connectivity, with Virgin Media Business as its selected supplier.

This regional PSN initiative has been led and driven by Leeds. The Board approved Virgin's appointment last month and has now instructed Yorkshire & Humberside PSN's project office to commence due diligence with a plan for the contract to be completed by October 2012.

Leeds is also starting to look at cloud service options both as a consumer and potentially as a provider and is already running some key applications out of the cloud. As Maidment explained: "When contracts come towards expiry and applications need to be replaced, the cloud is now a clear option if best value can be demonstrated. However we need to be mindful of the connectivity, security and integration challenges. This will get better as the market matures."

This article was originally published at Government Computing.

Government Computing covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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