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How HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) implemented Windows Virtual Desktop

Cloud Gateway support deployment of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) as part of the Ministry of Justice £1bn reform programme to ensure administrative processes are future proofed and adaptable for service needs.

Knowledge Centre

To deliver their latest phase of technology reforms, HMCTS needed to connect their legacy infrastructure to Azure, to support the deployment of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD).

As a cloud-built solution, WVD would give HMCTS the flexibility to adapt their working practices on-demand,  improving operational efficiency and security, and would prove crucial in a post-COVID working world. Connecting the Azure tenancy back to physical sites with a traditional telco provider could have taken up to 12 months to provision, incurring massive costs.

This would be an important milestone in their transformation, representing a considerable cost saving and improvement for users.

In addition, HMCTS needed connectivity to Google Cloud Platform to upgrade their ‘virtual stenographer’ solution. This resource securely stores and optimises court audio recordings, making them available to authorised staff and administrators quickly and easily. Due to the sensitive nature of this data traffic, it was crucial to maintain consistent security policy across the network.

The networking solution needed to be intelligent, flexible and resilient enough to deliver on potential (as yet unknown) future requirements.
It was imperative that the solution supported connections to multiple cloud environments and legacy infrastructures, with the scope to rapidly change the network landscape, as the reform programme gathered pace.

The Challenge
  • Justice processes were inefficient and slow, making it difficult for citizens, judges, witnesses and victims to navigate.

  • Unable to bring together cloud environments, with the existing network sprawl, to improve efficiency.

  • Couldn’t achieve a consistent network security profile across justice connected platforms.

The Solution
  • Securely connected Justice cloud and data centre environments, allowing rapid deployment of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

  • Provision of safe network access to virtual stenographer service, hosted in Google Cloud Platform.

  • Centralised a consistent security profile via a single Cloud Gateway platform, which allowed connectivity from multiple areas of the justice system.

The Impact
  • Unnecessary court dates have been reduced, improving outcomes for UK citizens and staff.

  • Cost-effectiveness of new and existing justice services has been increased ensuring better use of taxpayer money.

  • Citizens are able to access services and navigate the justice system.

  • Data security and availability improved for staff and citizens.

In detail 

HMCTS engaged with us, having been made aware of our cloud networking expertise by colleagues in the Ministry of Justice. Work had already begun to build new services in Azure, and during initial workshop sessions with us, it became clear that there were teething problems in establishing secure traffic flows between the new front end, and legacy back end.

We quickly worked to understand the networking requirements before creating a hybrid cloud connectivity platform instance, PRISM. With an existing presence in ARK government data centres, the first task for us was to link the new PRISM instance with HMCTS’s environment on campus, and then to the Azure tenancy.

As PRISM is a cloud-native solution, with an established ARK presence, this process took only a matter of minutes. Following a series of tests, the Cloud Gateway platform evolved and grew alongside the HMCTS reform programme in the following months. Additional connections were made to AWS, the Public Services Network (PSN) and to third party data centre providers.

Thanks to the close working relationship between us and HMCTS, and the responsive nature of the PRISM platform, provisioning times were reduced from 90 days to 90 minutes, and in some cases even faster. All traffic crossing the platform is sanitised by Cloud Gateway’s secure enforcement core, regardless of its source. Whether from a Ministry of Justice cloud environment, a physical site belonging to another government agency, or a remote user using the internet at home, the platform imposes consistent security policy across the ecosystem. Cloud gateway’s solution PRISM is both PSN accredited and NCSC compliant, and Cloud Gateway itself meets ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials PLUS credentials.

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is responsible for the administration of criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales. They are also responsible for non-devolved tribunals in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Working with an independent judiciary HMCTS provides a fair, efficient and effective justice system. They administer the work of magistrates’ courts and the County Court, Family Court, Crown Court, and Royal Courts of Justice, employing around 17,000 staff and operate from locations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. HMCTS is an executive agency, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. They follow the Ministry of Justice’s strategic vision for reform, to create a more effective, less costly and more responsive justice system for the public.


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