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Van Benthem & Keulen

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VB&K Cloud Digital Workplace

“We contracted Cambrian to overhaul our IT infrastructure. They pay close attention to the wishes of the customer and keep a sharp eye on costs. The Cambrian team is able to move quickly with ample commitment from their management team.”

The customer

Van Benthem & Keulen (VB&K) is a high-end law and notary firm in the Netherlands. The company employs circa 140 professionals and 30 support staff.

The challenge

VB&K professionals and support staff use Microsoft Word and Outlook intensively combined with the iManage document management system. Their digital workplace was an aging on-premise environment based on Remote Desktop Services (RDS).

Users were unhappy because they experienced a poor performance of the RDS workplace. Furthermore, as the end-user terminals were all desktop thin clients, professionals who worked from home had to use their own private computers or temporary company laptops and build a VPN connection to the office to reach the RDS workplace.

In addition to these problems, VB&K used Office 2016 packaged in their RDS stack while many of its clients used Microsoft 365 and expected to meet using Microsoft Teams. The document management system was running on an old software version and exhibited many bugs that could be resolved by applying updates. However, these were dependent on newer versions of Office. Several other key IT components were coming out of support and required big investments in hardware and software.

Given all these accumulating challenges, VB&K concluded that it needed to modernise its IT environment and move to a new digital workplace. They formulated the following main requirements:

  • Users can work from any place, on any device.
  • Users are provided with secure, managed laptop devices.
  • Data remains centrally, not on individual devices, and access is protected via MFA.
  • Microsoft Office 365 including Teams gets implemented.
  • iManage gets updated.
The solution

Cambrian helped VB&K evaluate a number of possible workplace configurations. A Proof of Concept (PoC) was organized for AWS AppStream 2.0 and for AWS Workspaces with various end-user devices: Macs, Chromebooks, Windows PCs and zero-clients. These were evaluated against a set of criteria:

  • Easy switching between applications and between windows within one application.
  • Use of multiple screens.
  • Use of video conferencing via Microsoft Teams.
  • Use of USB authentication keys to log into the Dutch land registry and the chamber of commerce.
  • Use of a USB foot pedal in combination with the transcription application BigFoot.

VB&K decided to move all users to AWS Workspaces as the central Desktop-as-a-Service solution. All business applications were packaged in the central desktop image using AWS Workspaces Application Manager. The file share used by iManage was moved to AWS FSx managed service for Windows file server.

Macbook Air computers were selected for the VB&K professionals and Dell Wyse zero client laptops for support staff. The foot pedals were used in combination with the zero clients using USB passthrough. A remote USB hub was implemented so that all USB authentication keys could be kept in a secure location and be linked permanently to the Workspaces of individual users.

The AWS Active Directory Service was linked to AzureAD and AzureAD was configured as the Identity platform. Along these lines, access to the AWS Workspaces was protected by the AzureAD MFA solution. Microsoft Exchange was moved to Exchange Online. Company fileshares that were not dependent on iManage were moved to Sharepoint Online. Personal files were moved to OneDrive. Teams was configured based on the best practices of the Netherlands Bar.

The Microsoft InTune Mobile Application Management and Mobile Device Management tools were used to manage private and company mobile phones respectively. The Intune MDM tool was also used to configure and manage the Macs in combination with the Apple Device Enrollment Program. Conditional access policies for Office 365 data were configured to prevent data loss.

The results

The transformation project was completed in five months; from the configuration and evaluation of options to completing the migration and user training.

The major benefits realised are:

  • All users have laptops facilitating flexible working; without ethernet cables, at any location and any piece of furniture.
  • The central workplaces can be reached securely from any place and any device with no need of a VPN.
  • Microsoft 365 is enabling modern collaboration, including the use of Teams.
  • The structural performance problems have been eliminated, as AWS Workspaces provide dedicated and fit-for-purpose hardware per user.
  • End-user devices are centrally managed; Macs, Dell zero clients and company iPhones.
  • Security has been strengthened: data remains encrypted centrally and MFA has been implemented for all central systems.
  • Microsoft 365 client access policies ensure that company data are only downloaded on managed devices.
  • The LAN & WLAN network is renewed with a shift from ethernet to Wifi based connectivity. This has led to a significant cost reduction.
  • The new cloud VoiP telephony solution offers the possibility to integrate with mobile phones.
  • A highly resilient, scalable, secure and compliant environment is in place, which is managed cost efficiently.
  • High availability for the whole infrastructure with minimal effort by using the out of the box facilities offered by AWS and Microsoft 365.
  • Workplace service requests are processed very efficiently and much faster.
  • A comprehensive and detailed SLA safeguards quality and compliance.

If you want to learn more, read the VB&K Strategy & Implementation case.

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