Virtualisation Technology Will Save RBWM £1.2M

Local Authority reaps 44 percent saving on energy expenses through employing virtualisation technology.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) in Berkshire, South East England is home to Windsor Castle, Eton College and Ascot Racecourse. The Council has a population of 135,000, has an approximate workforce of 5,000 employees and an annual turnover of £250million.

The Council recognises the importance of ensuring the local community is served in a sustainable and effective manner.  It strives to deliver best practice and value to its citizens, always looking for innovation and developments in technology that can contribute to this goal.

In 2008, the Council decided to review its server infrastructure with an aim to upgrade its existing systems.  It had been some time since its last review and as a result its current datacentre capacity was at a maximum; hardware assets were coming to the end of a five-year cycle; existing storage methods were proving inefficient; and overall it wanted to reduce its carbon footprint as part of a larger initiative to lower its environmental impact.

The challenge
Historically RBWM’s emergency planning that included disaster recovery and business continuity, were stored on a server estate with key systems as stand-alone entities with little resilience.  It had an outsourced disaster recovery agreement to manage these systems and was in great need of a replacement to minimise costs with equal or greater service and restoration abilities.  

It was also important the new infrastructure allowed easy and effective testing on a regular basis, and covered more than just the core systems.  Other considerations included allowing a flexible working environment that embraced staff working remotely.  

The objective
To remedy these issues, RBWM implemented a comprehensive review to create a business case for implementing the new technology.  

The primary objectives of the project were:

  • Create a strategic platform that allowed greater control and flexibility;
  • Virtualise a total of 184 servers in an attempt to reduce operating costs and minimise the Council’s carbon footprint;
  • Centralise storage by investing in SAN technology; and
  • Implement an in-house disaster recovery solution

Keith Clark, Head of ICT at Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead says the projected results from the business case were too good to ignore.

“For a public sector organisation it is crucial that we offer our local community the best possible service as well as lead by example on important environment issues such as reducing carbon footprint.  Early last year we decided it was time to consider new virtualisation technology in an attempt to achieve our objectives,” says Clark.

The Council underwent a rigourous and robust planning campaign to develop a business case for making the changes.  It spent time considering all the possible risks and perceived benefits before deciding it was an option too good to pass up.

“To make the transition successful, there are two paramount elements to consider.  One is to do your homework and the right planning, it’s important to go in with your eyes wide open.  And secondly, you need an experienced and proven partner that can advise and make the project happen.”

RBWM underwent a competitive tender process to choose its virtualisation specialist and eventually decided that London based firm, Intercept were its preferred option.

The benefits
The Council has undergone an amazing transformation since implementing the virtualisation technology.  It has experienced huge business benefits and importantly has been able to successfully achieve turning around its information productivity and efficiency concerns.

According to Clark, the deployment of the disaster recovery system is enabling the organisation to achieve greater control and more cost effective efficiencies. “We have reduced our energy bill by a 44 percent so far and predicted a saving of around £1.2M on projects during a five year period,” says Clark.

Gary Collins, Chief Information Officer at Intercept says many organisations are intimidated by the challenge of implementing new software such as virtualisation.  “We offer the public sector the latest virtualisation solutions; from server consolidation, energy efficient technologies, workstations and thin client devices,” says Collins.

“Intercept has been a tremendous help to have on board.  The expertise and experience its team offers is vital in our success.  So far the initial results are that virtualisation has been hugely positive for our organisation,” added Clark.

“We are delighted at the progress RBWM has made and will continue to make as it realises more and more, the financial and environmental benefits of using virtualisation technology.  Without doubt it adds value to the citizens and Berkshire local community,” concluded Collins.

For more information on Intercept and virtualisation technology, contact 0207 743 0100 or visit www.intercept-it.com.