CTO Interview: William Hewish, Severn Trent Water

By Stuart Sumner
07 Aug 2012 View Comments
water-ripple

Warwickshire-based water authority Severn Trent Water is currently reaping the rewards of its programme of virtualising its desktop estate 18 months ago.

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The organisation's CTO, William Hewish, explained that the aim was partly to drive collaboration and flexible working, but also to increase operational efficiency. The firm downsized its headquarters recently, and now provides eight desks for every 10 staff, the remainder being expected to work remotely.

The firm's virtualised desktops have helped to enable this scheme.

"As a side-effect from virtualised desktops, we're able to deliver full desktop experience to any device. We've learnt to make sure that people can work from home, the airport lounge or wherever they are on whatever device they have."

Of course, any remote working system introduces risks, as the IT team loses control of the network over which information is transmitted, and often users are working from their own, non-IT controlled devices.

Severn Trent uses security firm Entrust's SMS token product to secure remote connections to the corporate network.

"We wanted to move away from the traditional physical token that people have to remember to carry with them, to something much more user friendly and easier to use. Physical tokens can be lost, which raises an administrative burden – it can be quite an overhead for IT, and isn't friendly for users.

"The beauty of delivering token over SMS is no matter what happens people have their mobile with them – it's the most loved device in people's lives."

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