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GCN : July 2014
MOBILITY The director of platform technol- ogy for Fairfax County, Va., is working to make 70 percent of his workforce mobile. To do it, Jeffrey Porter is finding success with Windows to Go, a bootable, certified USB drive from Micro- soft that lets employees take their work computers anywhere while still being con- trolled and maintained by the information technology department. "We re promoting new hard- ware devices," Porter said during a presentation on "Secure Mo- bile Workspaces -- Next Genera- tion Desktops Empowering Agile Government," at the recent FOSE trade show. "Whatever works for your workforce, we have to be more adaptable in IT to really meet that demand." Windows to Go, a new feature of Windows 8.1 Enterprise, is an image installed on a flash drive that -- when booted on a host machine -- transforms into a Win- dows 8.1 desktop, fully controlled and managed via an agency s existing tools. Windows to Go runs natively on the machine it s being booted from and adapts to it, Porter said. It works on PCs, laptops, tablets and Apple Mac products, although it s not certified for use on the latter. Like most government IT managers, security is a top priority for Porter. So his Windows to Go users must answer myriad security questions to access the operating system. To activate the program, users are first asked for their BitLocker password, he said, referring to a Microsoft drive encryp- tion feature. "These devices being this small -- this is your actual machine now -- they re going to get lost. But if someone picks it up, they need to know your Bit- Locker password to get into it." When users get to the boot screen, they are asked for their user name and pass- word. After clearing that, users can surf the Internet. To get access to agency appli- cations, they still have to submit two-factor authentication, which gives them network access through a secure virtual-private network tunnel that uses Microsoft Direct Access. "This way, the desktop looks the same whether at home, in the hotel or wherev- er," he said. It transforms the user s Win- dows XP or Windows Vista or Windows 7 machine into a Windows 8 corporate im- age. At one time, Porter let contractors con- nect to county machines or loan out de- vices. Now he distributes Windows to Go, eliminating the risk of having contractors load unwanted applications onto a county device. And when a user no longer needs access through Windows to Go, Porter s team can shut down the device. There are other advantages. After the image is on the flash drive, corporate up- dates will be automatically ap- plied to the stick, he added. "An- ti-virus is on there as well. This is a full-fledged machine, fully secure." Windows to Go gives IT depart- ments more control over mobile workers, said Larry Hamid, chief architect at IronKey, part of Ima- tion Corp., a data storage and in- formation security company that sells Windows to Go. Think of it as the next step in the BYOD move- ment, he said, except instead of bringing personal devices to the workplace, you bring the work- place to your home computer. Still, the push for small mobile devices will get workers only so far, he said. "At the end of the day, if you have to actually produce a document or edit a spreadsheet, you need something with a big screen and a keyboard," Hamid said. Because of that, "some analysts predict that maybe in two years, half of enter- prise customers will actually have a policy where they want their employees to use their own computers." • Windows to Go e ectively replaces the hard drive of the host machine with a USB drive, giving IT departments more control over mobile workers Fairfax County offers secure remote access BY STEPHANIE KANOWITZ 30 GCN JULY 2014 • GCN.COM At the end of the day, if you have to actually produce a document or edit a spreadsheet, you need something with a big screen and a keyboard. -- LARRY HAMID, CHIEF ARCHITECT, IRONKEY