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Kingdom Housing Association Embraces Digital Transformation With Awingu

Duncan MacRae

,

Anstruther

Kingdom Housing Association’s head of digital decided to adopt a ‘cloud-first, mobile-first’ strategy in 2017.

Kingdom Housing Association (KHA) has become the first organisation in Scotland to adopt Belgian software, Awingu, a browser-based workspace that enables secure access to company files and legacy applications.

Based in Fife and working across East Central Scotland, KHA is a Registered Social Landlord with charitable status and provides housing to meet a wide range of needs. KHA has developed more than 4,000 affordable homes, the majority for social rent, and also provides mid-market rental properties, affordable housing for sale and factoring services.

For 20 years KHA operated its IT platform with Citrix, Microsoft Office, Exchange and thin clients as the main backbone. In 2017 Gary Haldane, head of digital, decided to adopt a ‘cloud-first, mobile-first’ strategy. The goal; a simple to manage, more flexible, more user-friendly and more cost-effective and customer focused digital workplace.

Kingdom choose to adopt Google’s G-Suite in favour of Microsoft Office & Exchange. They moved from dedicated infrastructure to Google Compute Platform (GCP), SaaS solutions and provide all employees access data via ChromeBox, Chromebook devices or mobile phones. However, one piece of the puzzle was missing – an easy way to give secure remote access to its legacy platforms such as Orchard Housing Management software and financial systems, including Open Accounts and Brixx. Awingu proved to be the perfect solution, according to KHA, as it makes legacy applications and desktops available via HTML5, and in a browser. Awingu enabled Kingdom to take the next step in its digital transformation journey.

Haldane said: “Awingu allows us to simplify things greatly. We have a small digital team, with less components to manage, we can concentrate on adding value in other core business areas. With local agents and many elements in the back-end, Citrix added too much complexity.

He added that the association valued the simplicity of the Awingu architecture – only one Virtual Appliance in front of a classic RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) back-end. End users can access their applications from their Chrome Browsers.

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Awingu provided not only a simplification, according to Haldane, but also a steep reduction in operating costs. The Citrix environment was deployed on 18 VMWare virtual machines, which has been downsized to five. The savings, in comparison to Citrix, are said to be substantial in infrastructure and support effort. The difference between Awingu and Citrix license cost only made transformation case easier, Haldane noted. VMWare is also not required.

Google and Awingu running hand in hand, KHA identified Google’s Platform as a Service (PaaS) as the best fit for its purpose, and Awingu tied in nicely. Awingu was easily deployed on Google Computer Platform (GCP), Haldane said.

“The performance of this combination is outstanding, and our employees couldn’t believe the speed and responsiveness,” Haldane added. “Employees can use the Google Identity credentials to access their G-Suite as well as Awingu in a secure way. Both in the office and remotely. It’s just very straightforward.”

  • Join us for a day of digital transformation discussion and insight at the fifth annual Digital Transformation Summit at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth on the 26th of March 2020.

Duncan MacRae

Editor

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