Clackamas County Bids Laptops a Not-So-Fond Farewell with MobileIron Solutions

Industry: Government

"Most departments were using laptops with air cards to access our virtual private network and run client/server applications. Thanks to MobileIron, we’re helping them replace bulky laptops with mobile devices that offer the same functionality through mobile apps."

Julio Cabrera , Senior System Administrator, Clackamas County, Oregon

Clackamas County is located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley region and sits within the Portland metropolitan area. With its county seat in Oregon City, Clackamas has a population of 376,000 and features tourist attractions such as Mount Hood and the Mount Hood and Willamette National Forests.

With more and more county employees asking to use their iPhones on the county network, Clackamas County implemented the MobileIron enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform. Clackamas County now uses MobileIron to secure county-issued and employee-owned iPhones and iPads, allow employees to request devices through a web portal, and deploy mobile apps that eliminate the need for client/server applications and the laptops on which they run.

As Executives Clamor for iPhones, Security Becomes a Priority

The Technology Services group for Clackamas County, Oregon is constantly looking for ways to fill any gaps in the county’s technology infrastructure. So when the county started seeing an explosion of mobile device use among its workforce, Technology Services’ top priority was to integrate these devices into its environment securely.

“It all started with a bunch of elected officials coming into our office and saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got this great new iPhone. Can I connect it to our network?’” explains Julio Cabrera, Senior System Administrator, Clackamas County. “We realized the iPhone was really taking off and that we needed to get out in front of the trend, so we decided to protect our Microsoft Exchange environment by requiring security certificates.”

Cabrera and his team decided to make the county an iOS-only shop, with occasional exceptions when there was a specific business case for Android devices. Next, Cabrera began reading about potential EMM solutions—and realized that MobileIron would meet the county’s needs.

“At that point, MobileIron was the one vendor that could support certificates,” Cabrera recalls. “We evaluated a couple other platforms just to be sure, but we were soon convinced enough to launch a pilot program on MobileIron.”

Technology Services created a mobility group made up of some of the county’s stakeholders and worked with the group to create an initial set of mobility rules for the county. The team then created a tiered services model in which Technology Services bills back departments for the technical services they consume. Next, Technology Services designed a web portal that makes it easy for users to request iPhones.

“I wrote some code around the MobileIron API to automate the provisioning process as much as possible,” says Cabrera. “We now have a seamless process in which we can ensure that the user has signed an acceptable use policy and that the right department has been billed.”

Apps Cut Out Steps, Save Time and Money

Technology Services’ next priority was to deliver mobile apps that would catapult county employees to a new level of productivity. In the past, many employees had had to carry laptops to maintain mobile access to the applications they need out in the field. Today, the county uses MobileIron to deploy an increasing number of mobile apps that let employees complete the same business processes on mobile devices.

“Most departments were using laptops with air cards to access our virtual private network and run client/server applications,” says Cabrera. “Thanks to MobileIron, we’re helping them replace bulky laptops with mobile devices that offer the same functionality through mobile apps.”

Members of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department rely on mobile apps to enter information on the go—whether they’re monitoring traffic, flagging potholes, or involved in animal control.

“The fact that police officers can now check information on their phone without having to go back to the squad car is a game-changer,” says Cabrera. “And when someone in the community reports a pothole, employees in the Roads department can get that information on their phone right away, rather than waiting for it to show up on their work list the following day. That’s a huge boost to productivity.”

As Cabrera approaches additional departments to convince them to switch to mobile apps, he pushes the financial benefits as much as the productivity benefits. Clackamas’ lean in-house app development team can deliver web-based mobile versions of business application quickly and easily.

“Any time a department leader hesitates over the cost of deploying mobile devices to their employees, I point out to them that they’ll be eliminating the cost of laptops and air cards,” Cabrera remarks. “There will be savings for my department, too, because iPads are cheaper to buy and easier to maintain.”

Partnership Fuels Ongoing Innovation

As county employees request permission to use Android devices on the network, Clackamas County plans to use Cisco AnyConnect in conjunction with MobileIron to configure secure corporate VPN settings on Samsung Galaxy devices. In the meantime, Technology Services’ decision to implement certificate-based authentication has strengthened the security of the entire county’s Wi-Fi network. As Cabrera and his team continue to innovate, they’ll look to MobileIron for support.

“When we were getting up and running on MobileIron, their engineers did an amazing job of giving us the information and resources we needed,” Cabrera concludes. “And since then, every time we’ve had a question or problem, MobileIron’s response has been very positive.”

Key Benefits:
  • Allow employees to connect their preferred iOS devices to the county network without compromising security
  • Give employees a convenient automated portal for requesting county-issued iOS devices
  • Deploy mobile apps that let county employees complete business processes on smartphones and tablets
  • Eliminate the ongoing expense of issuing air cards and maintaining laptops
Why Mobileiron:
  • Ability to use certificates to authenticate users on Microsoft Exchange
  • Robust iOS functionality
  • Attentive support from engineers
  • Flexible API works well with customer-developed code