The central administration of the GO! authority recently moved to the Willebroekkaai in Brussels. Operating out of the new building, the administration supports the 28 school groups that make up the state school network. All told, it encompasses 1,000 institutions, including schools, student counseling centers and boarding schools. “We were previously located on Emile Jacqmainlaan,” explains ICT manager Jan Buytaert. “It was an old building. It wasn’t particularly energy efficient and was no longer suited to the way that our staff works day to day: more on the basis of projects and less individually.” When our lease ran out, the GO! had one year to find and install a new location. We ultimately chose a new development on the Willebroekkaai, near the Noordstation.
GO! started with a survey among the 400 employees of the central administration on their expectations for the new offices, including in terms of telephony, computers, printers, etc. Buytaert: “We used this input to chart the needs of our staff, also taking teleworking into account. But we didn’t want to change everything at once. We decided to work with a process of step-bystep evolution towards the new situation.” The implementation of this process fell within the ICT framework contract of the Flemish government with the consortium HP-Belgacom. “From the outset, the entire project was supported by a business consultant from Belgacom who provided the necessary assistance.”
Combination of solutions
For its new server infrastructure, GO! chose FlexPod, a datacenter solution based on servers and switches from Cisco, virtualization with VMware and storage from NetApp. “Via FlexPod we’re opting for simplicity: lower costs for better performance and a solution that’s easily expandable.” GO! housed its two FlexPods in the datacenters of the VDAB. In the offices, GO! standardized the network – LAN and WLAN – on Cisco as well. “We went for the combination of thin clients and Citrix,” says Buytaert. “Our employees use a virtual desktop, which instantly gives us the option of supporting teleworking or mobile working.” In the office, Unified Communications is provided via Microsoft Lync, combined with Polycom. A solution from Spikes – based on Microsoft SharePoint – ensures the management of the document flows.
In particular the use of video is opening up new possibilities for GO!. This is not only evident in the fully equipped conference rooms, but also the six training rooms where multimedia is key. “Teachers come in for continuing education here,” explains Buytaert. “Via Lync it’s possible to follow these courses remotely as well. What’s more, we record the sessions and then make them available as a video on their smartschool platform.” Buytaert emphasized that – despite the considerable technology involved – the installation of the new headquarters should not be looked at as an ICT project. “It was a cultural shift. The involvement of the employees was the key to success. At the same time, the support and project management from Belgacom proved essential for completing the entire process before the scheduled deadline.”
The GO! school system of the Flemish community is one of the three educational networks recognized by the Flemish community. GO! supports the systems of statutory public education (preschool, primary and secondary school), adult education and part-time arts education in 1,000 institutions with 300,000 students and course participants.
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