Strategic development of virtualisation
- Virtualisation of servers
- Workload analysis before implementation
- Smooth and seamless roll out
- Opportunity to save taxpayer’s money
- Simplified IT management
Stroud District Council provides services to nearly 110,000 residents in a largely rural area spread over 175 square miles in the south of Gloucestershire. Technology is integral to supporting these services, ensuring they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Council has seen the growth of storage and IT servers grow at an alarming rate – to the point that drastic action needed to be taken. “We needed to find a different solution to stem costs which have risen year on year by 50% over three years,” says the Council’s Head of Modernisation and ICT, Nick Watkins. “We knew we could solve this problem with the guidance of Commercial IT Services.”
Choosing a true partner & the right solution
Nick and his team started to examine the possibility of implementing the emerging technology of ‘virtualisation’ as a solution to the problem of ‘server sprawl’ with the associated increase in support costs.
Following a selection process lasting six months, local IT reseller and specialist Commercial IT Services was selected. Nick explains why: “We liked their approach as they gave us open, honest advice based on a great deal of knowledge and experience of virtualisation implementations for other organisations. Most of all – they provided clear direction on how to implement virtualisation which gave us the reassurance we were looking for.”
Implementation – getting it right first time
The planning phase included one month of workload analysis with specialist software from Platespin and PowerRecon. This simulated likely traffic from email and management systems through to the Council website from which services to residents are channelled, providing a clear and concise picture of the application services running on the servers and how their resources were being used. It also enabled a system planning report to be produced with different options and a recommended consolidation ratio of 6:1.
Commercial installed a new storage area network in tandem with VMware ESX servers before careful migration over a weekend to prevent any disruption to residents. Integral to the migration was the confirmation that the system running on the previous physical environment was identical in the new virtual environment, albeit on fewer servers. Following this phase, the next step in the migration strategy was to virtualise 36 servers for a diverse range of applications – from revenues and benefits through to wast
Shared resources and increase server utilisation
“This strategic IT project has opened up a huge opportunity to share resources and increase server utilisation while saving taxpayer’s money from the reduced IT budget,” says Nick. “Not only was this server consolidation beneficial in terms of cost reduction with fewer servers, but also in terms of simplified IT management avoiding the need for more IT staff. This was the reality that we were facing before exploring virtualisation.”