Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey was using Microsoft Terminal Services, traditional Virtual Private Networks and IronKey thumb drives to offer mobile access to employees across the organization. However, this trio of solutions carried security risks — including physical loss, device damage, and data loss.
Looking to reduce the cost of mobilizing its employees, Goodwill turned to virtualization and similar technologies in order to centralize data and application management for mobile workers without having to rewrite applications or replace infrastructure.
The company has over 1,500 workstations and mobile devices encompassing 40-plus retail stores, staffing offices, and program sites, serving a range of populations that includes:
Mental health disabilities
Autism spectrum disorders
A social enterprise
Operationally, the company manages community outreach programs, janitorial contracts, and the well-known Goodwill thrift stores. Its virtualization solution therefore needed to support use cases from across a diversified organization.
"We are a not-for-profit," says Andre Bromes, Chief Information Officer of Goodwill Industries in New York City/New Jersey. "One of the challenges that we've faced for a number of years is to do more with less. That sometimes creates a greater challenge than anybody can appreciate — especially when it comes to offering services for our mobile workforce and individuals that actually need information at a glance. Sometimes they have to go through convoluted methods to get to that information, and that isn't good either. There's a lot of waste…calculated waste in doing so."
Bromes explains that Goodwill's previous solution was based on virtual private networks, using a VPN client to get on the network and access information. Then the technology expanded, along with the different regulations.
"Looking at different solutions and trying different ways to do things, we were kind of forced into opening up the walls a bit and thinking outside the box," relates Bromes. "One day, we were having a discussion about how we could expand technology in our area with our rehab folks — people who are similar in some ways to a sales force, but instead of selling and supporting a product, the product we have are people with very unique mental, physical and socioeconomic disabilities."
During his research, Bromes came across Splashtop. It could accomplish a number of the strategies on the roadmap at Goodwill:
To empower the mobile workforce
To secure system users
To increase technology footprint in areas that have long been underserved
"The Splashtop application was piloted with a number of our rehab folks. It gave them the ability to not only remote connect into their desktops, but they could also access client information and secure and maintain that client information," says Bromes. The team also decided to move from laptops to iPads as the preferred tool in the field. iPads are more used for consuming information rather than creating or interacting with information, so they were great for running apps and light data entry.
"The application also allows them to blank the screen when they are working remotely, so they don't have the challenge of prying eyes seeing the screen," notes Bromes. "Within that session-based connect there's nothing to be saved to that iPad. So, if the iPad is lost or stolen you don't have the risk of information being compromised on that unit. Basically it answered several of our needs in that regard."
Goodwill Industries must comply with HIPAA, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and various US federal standards. Bromes says, "Not-for-profits are specifically affected and because we make sure that every dollar that comes into the organization is accounted for. We have two key bottom lines and metrics associated with those and how we operate. We have to maintain a certain level of profitability and focus on the mission. You can't have a not-for-profit that is just focused on the mission without the business acumen to focus on the profitability to support their various ventures. The mission can't be supported."
"Within that session-based connect there's nothing to be saved to that iPad. So, if the iPad is lost or stolen you don't have the risk of information being compromised on that unit. Basically [Splashtop] answered several of our needs in that regard."
— Andre Bromes, Chief Information Officer, Goodwill Industries in New York City/New Jersey
Goodwill chose Splashtop Business because of the solution's flexibility. The company uses it in all facets of its operations. "Quite, honestly I didn’t see another tool out there like Splashtop that would meet all of those needs," says Bromes. "The price point is excellent for the solution as well. It's competitively priced and has a suite of tools that fit the bill."
Goodwill is still expanding the use of Splashtop to work with the needs of those different areas, each of which requires slightly different technology. For example, iPad users who work with people who have physical and learning disabilities have their own specific requirements because they use the application as a whiteboard. Where most people would see it as a tool for collaboration, Bromes says, "we see it as a tool for presenting to these individuals while you're teaching them time management and other things. For our retail folks, it's something for managers to carry and tap into our point-of-sale system to review how stores are performing and staying on budget."
Bromes cites a case in point: "When we originally got the Splashtop application we were bringing up our rehab folks to use the iPad. Some of the executives had devices and were travelling and there was always a need, from VPs to managers, to access their desktops. It's great that the iPad can pull down email with the native client, but sometimes I need to get on my desktop to access this application for this client service, or this HRMS system, or this application for my finance system, and I have no way of really doing that."
Althoough Bromes and his team evangelized the Splashtop solution around the question "Why would somebody want to use Splashtop?", its rich user experience and robust security features did lead to the usual organizational pains that associated with change. And as the user requirements grew for Splashtop, Bromes and his team had to expand their learning curve on the product to support the implementation properly as virtualization grew organically across the organization.
Splashtop Business as a virtualization solution has had a profound impact on the business and customers of Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and New Jersey. It has helped Goodwill avoid large capital expenditures and further leveraged its existing internal applications, software licenses, and technology infrastructure.