Delivering a VDI solution through teamwork and creative funding Staff

Our 2012 IT Leadership Awards recognize the contributions and innovations of IT professionals in midmarket companies. We sent out a

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call for nominations of individuals who have excelled in six categories, one of which is technological advancement. The Technological Advancement Award is given to a leader whose IT strategies have supported top-line revenue or sustainable business value. Jeff Brittain, IT director for the city of Hickory, N.C., is one of three finalists for this award.

Jeff Brittain

For four years, Jeff Brittain strategized a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution for Hickory, N.C.'s public libraries. Because he knew the move would require buy-in from many city government stakeholders, he had only one shot at turning the project into a reality, and opted to wait until the technology was mature. When the time was right, he put the carefully orchestrated plan into motion. He coordinated efforts between city government and library officials, using his vendor relationships to generate multiple VDI scenarios.

By letting officials pick the one VDI solution that worked best for library users' needs, he ensured the VDI's adoption via a shared vision. He was able to get the public library director to commit to using funds allocated for new PCs to go instead toward the VDI project, and used IT funds originally earmarked for a new server chassis and blade servers. He also requested and received city funding to fill the gap. Thus he turned his dream of virtualized desktops into a working, successful VDI for Hickory's public libraries.

Employer: City of Hickory, N.C.

Nice job in a tough political climate. Sounds like good leadership and management. IT Leadership Awards judges

Official job title: IT director

Revenue: $88,000,000

Number of employees: 640

Number of years in IT: 28

Educational background: B.S. degree in computer science from Appalachian State University in 1983. Received Certified Government CIO credential from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005.

First job: Programmer-analyst for Shadowline Inc.

What's the best advice you've ever received? Best personal advice: Marriage is the hardest thing you'll ever do, but if you both work at it, it will be worth it! Best professional advice: Always learn everything that you can, and don't be afraid to ask questions.

What is your alter-ego career? Dad. I am different at home with my family.

What are you currently reading? Mockingjay, the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

An excerpt from Jeff Brittain's nomination

Jeff reviewed all the options with the library staff and city management. They could embark on this new, strategic direction and save money in the long term, or simply continue to do what they have been doing (PC replacement cycle).

Jeff did an excellent job of selling the technology and the resulting cost savings and cost avoidance. He also is proposing that the city evaluate all new PC purchases for the rest of the year and consider moving them (where feasible) to the VDI as well. This will have a positive impact on IT support and improve the overall user experience.

Describe the best technology decision you ever made: It was probably moving onto the Cisco IP telephony solution in 2002. Not as high-tech as many other projects, but it has unified our workforce and produced a long-term cost savings.

What's the biggest challenge you face in IT today? Budget

What's your prediction for the next big technology? As the mobile explosion continues, I think powering these devices will be critical. People can't carry chargers and plug them in as needed. We need a quick, inexpensive alternative to recharging. This would bode well for electric cars also. Wouldn't it be great if you could pull into a station and replace the energy pellets in your vehicle as easily and quickly as filling up the gas tank?

What was your best career move? Leaving a former employer even though I greatly enjoyed my job! It gave me the opportunity to grow and expand my knowledge to where I am now.

Describe your biggest career influence: A former manager who encouraged me to pursue change and strive for what I wanted to do with my career.

What is the biggest problem you see with corporate cultures today? There's too much of a "follow the leader" mentality. Why do what a neighbor or competitor is doing, just because you are afraid you will be left behind? Think independently and strategically for the long-term success of yourself and your business. Don't be afraid of change or being different -- embrace it!

What's your advice for IT pros coming up the ranks? Learn everything you can. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Be a team player when you should, but take risks when it is necessary.

Twitter handle: None

LinkedIn account link:

Let us know what you think about the story; email Wendy Schuchart, Site Editor.

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