"Volunteers who do not use a managed device from the zone, can simply use their own device to access the necessary applications as well as the file share. On top of that, nothing needs to be installed on the devices themselves, because Parallels Secure Workspace is completely browser-based. This saves our IT admins time for configuration and maintenance and significantly reduces the cost for the type of the devices."
Brandweerzone Rivierenland (Fire Brigade Zone Rivierenland) is one of 35 Belgian and one of five Antwerp rescue zones. The zone officially started operating on 1 January 2015 and provides fire and medical assistance (ambulance) in the southwestern area of the province of Antwerp.
The Fire Brigade Zone Rivierenland comprises 19 municipalities that together represent a population of approximately 420,000 residents. The total surface of the service area covers approximately 570 km². The Zone Rivierenland also borders on other ones like Antwerp, Rand, Kempen, East Flemish Brabant, Flemish Brabant West, East and Waasland.
Which applications are used via Parallels Secure Workspace?
Applications are made available through Parallels Secure Workspace in a safe way, based on the profile of the user:
For many zones ABIFIRE is the center of daily operations. It contains modules for intervention reports, privacy-related personnel data, construction advice, prevention reports, material management, and much more. If this package is not available for technical or security reasons, the operation of the zone practically stops.
For Rivierenland, it was therefore an absolute necessity to secure ABIFIRE. For them it was a minimum requirement that they could secure the login procedure with multi-factor authentication (MFA). Since MFA is built into Parallels Secure Workspace, this was the first checkbox that could be ticked.
The 3P package is a mandatory Government tool for procurement procedures. This application is also made available in Parallels Secure Workspace because the 3P license only works with pre-agreed domain credentials.
As a CAD program, Bluebeam is a widely used tool within rescue districts to draw or modify plans. At Fire Brigade Zone Rivierenland this application runs on a separate server.
"Before Parallels Secure Workspace was brought into use, this program was installed locally on each device. This required a lot of maintenance and follow-up, which can now be done centrally at the server level due to the limited IT team. Also, the performance for those who work remotely through Parallels Secure Workspace is optimal with this CAD application. Thanks to Parallels Secure Workspace, we were able to tick two more boxes."
The old, well-known accounting program is no longer current or in use in the zone. However, there still is a need to be able to access certain data here.
Parallels Secure Workspace as a secure gateway provides the perfect balance between security and user experience. Also, the impact of the irregular use of Hermes is nil, since the Parallels Secure Workspace licenses are based on a concurrent model and not on a named basis. Another checkbox Fire Brigade Zone Rivierenland could tick off thanks to Parallels Secure Workspace!
The Mercurius billing software is not only used by Fire Brigade Zone Rivierenland, but also by various local police zones. (Today, more than 60 police zones in Belgium work with Parallels Secure Workspace).
Within Rivierenland, the need arose to build in some extra security. For example, there was no MFA foreseen for the internally hosted, web-based application, making the security risk too high. By putting this application behind Parallels Secure Workspace, with MFA and a protocol switch on the Parallels Secure Workspace appliance, a direct connection between the end user device and the server backend environment is avoided.
The DIV of the Flemish Government can now also be accessed directly. Whereas, previously, the IT service had to push an Internet shortcut in each user profile.
To securely access your own servers from the outside, a secure connection is made via Parallels Secure Workspace’s remote desktop functionality. In addition, every login and activity can be traced in the Parallels Secure Workspace dashboard. Something that has proven to be very useful.
This was the case when a certain anti-virus program caused another program to close promptly. Of course, in one instance this also happened to occur on a non-managed device belonging to one of the volunteers who work for the zone.
Via the track & trace in Parallels Secure Workspace, this issue could be detected and resolved quickly, said the IT department when they shared this anecdote.
The effect of Parallels Secure Workspace at Fire Brigade Zone Rivierenland
We can conclude that the users are satisfied and the IT team even more so because compared to the former Citrix set-up, Parallels Secure Workspace is much more simplified
The only item that still needs to be installed by the end user is the remote application helper when using a Smartcard (eID).
In terms of security, huge steps have been made:
- MFA is built-in for free.
- All data processed through the browser is encrypted.
- A complete audit of everything is available.
- Even screen recording is used in some cases (especially when suppliers need access to the network).
The fact that Fire Brigade Zone Rivierenland East-Flemish Brabant and West-Flemish Brabant have also started working with Parallels Secure Workspace shows that Fire Brigade Zone Rivierenland is not alone and has made the right decision with this future-proof solution.
Simple BYOD: Thanks to Parallels Secure Workspace, volunteers can now use their own device to access the necessary applications or file share via the browser.
For the IT admins, it’s a big help. Nothing needs to be installed on the devices of the users themselves, which not only saves them more time, but also reduces costs because it is not necessary to provide volunteers with devices.
Security: With the introduction of just one tool, Fire Brigade Zone Rivierenland was able to take extra security measurements by using the built-in MFA and auditing possibilities. Furthermore, they love the fact that all data processed through the browser is encrypted and that they can use screen recording when giving suppliers access to the network.
Various applications in a personalized workspace: For Rivierenland, it’s a big advantage that they can create secure personalized workspaces based on the profile of the user. That way they can easily give users access to all the specific applications they need, like for example ABIFIRE, 3P, Bluebeam, Mercurius, DIV, and Remote Desktops. It’s easy to manage for every user or user group!
"Before Parallels Secure Workspace was brought into use, CAD program Bluebeam was installed locally on each device. This required a lot of maintenance and follow-up due to the limited IT team. Luckily it can now be done centrally at the server level. Also, the performance for those who work remotely through Parallels Secure Workspace is optimal with this CAD application. Thanks to Parallels Secure Workspace, we were able to tick those boxes."