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Argentina court upgrades operation system for security, manageability, performance

By Microsoft on February 8, 2017

Filed under Public Safety and Justice

The Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, which serves the most heavily populated province in Argentina, faced growing concerns about security along with compatibility and administration issues. To address these, the court opted to replace the two aging operating systems it was running on all of its computers. After preliminary testing, it chose Windows 10 and conducted a smooth deployment. The court now benefits from improved security, better manageability, and enhanced performance.

Business needs

The Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Provincia de Buenos Aires is the highest court in the province of Buenos Aires, the most populous of the 24 provinces in Argentina. Serving more than 15 million citizens, roughly 35 percent of Argentina’s total population, the Supreme Court of the Province of Buenos Aires handles hundreds of thousands of cases annually. Based in La Plata, the provincial capital, the court’s jurisdiction spans 135 municipalities and 18 judicial departments, such as Criminal, Civil, Labor, and Family and Child.

Court employees were using a mix of the Windows XP and Windows 7 operating systems on their computers, which created compatibility and administration issues and raised concerns about security as the two systems reached and approached the end of their respective product life cycles. Court officials decided that the best way to address all of these issues was to upgrade to a new operating system and make it the standard for all computers in the organization. The court deployed Windows 8 to an initial user group but encountered problems almost immediately.

“Our employees weren’t happy with the Windows 8 interface,” says Gustavo Gulino, Infrastructure and Database Manager for the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Provincia de Buenos Aires. “They were used to the look and feel of Windows XP and Windows 7, but in Windows 8, the familiar Start button and taskbar had disappeared. That made it hard for employees to find many of the things they needed to do their jobs.”

Solution

The court’s IT team started testing Windows 10 soon after the operating system was released in 2015. The team wanted to determine whether Windows 10 would be a good alternative to Windows 8 and satisfy both IT and employee needs.

Gulino and his team found Windows 10 to be more flexible than Windows 8, with a more intuitive interface for employees. They also discovered that it had better security features, management capabilities, and administration tools than Windows 8. In addition, all of the court’s internal applications ran well on Windows 10.

“We have a lot of specialized applications that we developed internally,” Gulino says. “This is critical software for us, so it was imperative that our apps continue to perform well right from the start on any new operating system. With Windows 10, they ran perfectly.”

After thoroughly testing Windows 10, court officials decided to make it the standard operating system on all computers throughout the organization. Gulino and his team handled the deployment internally, with some assistance from Microsoft Services Premier Support. To date, the court has deployed Windows 10 on approximately 2,200 computers.

“We got all our questions answered by the very knowledgeable Microsoft Services Premier Support engineers,” Gulino says. “With their help, our Windows 10 deployment went smoothly, and we had no trouble managing it ourselves.”

Benefits

By upgrading to Windows 10, the Supreme Court of Buenos Aires Province received all the benefits that court officials were hoping to realize when they decided to standardize on a new operating system. It also gained a few that they didn’t anticipate.

Improved security

Security is important to the Supreme Court of Buenos Aires Province. The court handles a lot of sensitive data, and people trust it to keep the information private and secure. The court takes that trust seriously and appreciates the security enhancements in Windows 10, such as its improved Group Policy settings.

“As a matter of security, we limit court employees to performing only certain tasks and accessing only the information they’re authorized to see,” Gulino says. “In earlier versions of Windows, we had difficulty applying Group Policy settings. They often blocked everything. With Windows 10, we can apply more granular policies. It’s easy to set them for specific actions and applications, to make sure employees each have all the tools and information needed to do their jobs well, but no more.” Gulino says the court is also considering using Device Guard with Windows 10 to lock down devices so they only run trusted applications.

In addition, the court is testing the Direct Access feature in Windows 10 as a possible replacement for its virtual private network (VPN) connection, because Direct Access provides greater simplicity for employees in remote locations and offers a more secure, straightforward connection to the court’s internal network.

Better manageability

According to Gulino, the court’s IT administrators find it far easier to support employees and troubleshoot problems using Windows 10. Plus, by deploying Windows 10, they resolved a lot of ongoing issues that they had experienced with their previous operating systems.

“Our IT team is much more relaxed now,” Gulino says. “There are many things we no longer have to keep checking and troubleshooting, because Windows 10 fixed many of the problems we had to manage closely before.”

A benefit of standardizing all court computers on Windows 10 is that the IT team now can deploy and manage software using Microsoft System Center 2012 R2. “When employees call the help desk, we can take control of their computers remotely and troubleshoot problems more easily,” Gulino says. “It’s a win-win situation, because the employee can see what IT is doing. So we’re able to provide better support and create more confidence among employees.”

Gulino noted that Windows 10 includes a lot of drivers for external devices, which makes it easier to connect peripherals and have instant compatibility. “For a lot of devices, it’s basically plug and play,” he says. “We don’t have to spend a lot time searching for new drivers to install.”

Enhanced performance, cost avoidance

The court didn’t expect the performance-related cost savings it has realized as a result of deploying Windows 10. Gulino explains that the court follows a cycle of replacing about 20 percent of its hardware every year as a matter of routine maintenance. In deploying a new operating system on all computers, however, court officials assumed they would need to invest in a lot of new hardware. That wasn’t the case.

“Because Windows 10 ran so well on our existing machines, we didn’t need to buy any new hardware, except for the computers we were already planning to purchase,” Gulino says. “We had no additional hardware expense as part of our Windows 10 deployment.”

Gulino says Windows 10 performs better for employees, too. It starts and shuts down faster, it’s easier and faster for people to search for files and find documents. And Windows 10 brought back the Start button and taskbar.

“Our employees are so much happier with Windows 10,” he says. “They no longer complain, they’re more productive, and they find everything they need more easily.”

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