Virtualisation technology provides benefits for Armadale

Business situation

ICT staff spent almost all their time maintaining the network, rather than developing new ICT initiatives.

Solution

The City of Armadale implemented virtualisation, which dramatically cut the time it took to deploy new servers and maintain the infrastructure environment. Council’s ICT department was constrained by the effort required to maintain infrastructure and the time it took to commission new servers and services. Staff did not have the resources to explore or implement new technology services.

In 2008, the City implemented virtualisation. As a result, servers could be configured faster, server performance was increased and resource allocation became more effective. In addition, by using virtualisation functionality, the City drastically reduced its server hardware requirements and server environment maintenance needs.

The City of Armadale is recognised as one of the top five growth regions in the Perth metropolitan area. Its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) team manage a data centre of more than 25 servers and a desktop fleet of 250 PCs and laptops.

“The City utilises leading technology systems and infrastructure,” said Adam Holthouse, Manager Information and Communications Technology. “Giving staff that advantage assists in providing high levels of customer service to our community.”

However, the ICT team was becoming constrained by having to maintain a large, diverse and aging server environment.

“We needed to be able to deploy new servers to replace those going out of warranty,” Adam Holthouse said. “It would take us a long time just to get a new server into production because of the amount of configuration we had to do and the resultant downtime for staff.”

The City’s ICT Team was attempting to alleviate their workload by simplifying the server environment. Council had many old legacy applications and was moving towards updating its core business systems. The City wanted to centralise these systems and had started to experiment with virtualisation as a way of doing this.

“We needed to free up our time so we could have a more strategic focus,” Adam Holthouse said. “To do that, we just needed a more manageable server environment. We spent all our time fighting fires and fixing problems. Being reactive to issues was just not helping us move forward.”

The solution

Vmware was Armadale’s chosen solution. Not only did it provide the functionality required, the Western Australian Local Government Association had just finalised an agreement with Vmware, allowing the City to take advantage of significant cost reductions in licensing.

By March 2008 the City was ready to commence a significant technology upgrade.

“The entire process, from capacity planning to deployment took four weeks,” Adam Holthouse said. “This was extremely fast. We would normally have had to spend that long configuring each piece of physical hardware and moving associated software and applications.

“We had to be careful about server migration because of the criticality of systems. The key thing was ensuring continuity of core systems. Actually, one of the nice parts of Vmware is the server migration process. Moving from physical to virtual servers was amazingly easy and support from vmware and partners along the way helped to streamline the process.”

Benefits

ICT staff at the City of Armadale gained immediate benefits from the virtualised environment. Deploying new servers was faster and less administration time was required to set up the basics.

Simplified server provisioning and management

City of Armadale ICT staff are now able to deploy a new server within 10 minutes.

“This would usually take us weeks,” Adam Holthouse said. “With the ability to set up a server template for deployments, we save that extra time and apply it towards improving our service delivery.”

Real efficiency gains

By enabling the City to reduce its physical server requirements, virtualisation has helped centralise the City’s server environment and generate efficiency savings.

“I did some financial analysis before we decided on virtualisation,” Adam Holthouse said. “We had nearly $400,000 dollars worth of hardware currently not virtualised, but appropriate for virtualisation. It would cost about $160,000 to buy the replacement hardware if we went down the virtualisation path. We were in a position to replace legacy hardware at 40 per cent of the nominal cost.”

The City has also gained supplementary benefits as part of the virtualisation project.

“We are saving money on power and cooling, which is a very significant cost benefit and assists in reducing our carbon footprint,” he added.

Increased system performance

Virtualisation has directly benefited both staff and ICT at the City.

“Core business systems are performing much better,” Adam Holthouse said. “I got immediate feedback from staff and they were happy with the speed increases.”

The City has also achieved the objective of making the server environment easier to manage.

“At a glance, the Virtual Infrastructure Client gives me a high level view of the entire environment,” he said. “I can also see where I have capacity to place future servers or take better advantage of the host server resources. High availability of systems is easier to achieve, resulting in absolute minimal downtime.”

For more information contact Adam Holthouse on (08) 9399 0171.