From in-house IT to IaaS

Environment Canterbury (ECan) lauds IaaS for flexibility and robustness; eyes new opportunities to collaborate with other council.

IaaS is famous for minimising waste and pooling unlimited reserves of capacity for short term projects and growth spurts. But these benefits unravel when the IT Infrastructure is vulnerable to a local event – an earthquake, for example – or can’t be trusted to back up critical data automatically.

ECan’s future employees will work from anywhere, and its systems will aggregate data and applications from other councils to provide the residents of Canterbury with new and more accessible services, like local maps overlaid with social and geographic data. But such achievements weren’t possible under its own steam. Capacity was the problem. A private cloud floating on 12 physical services running mostly Microsoft applications was starting to creak. Launching new IT projects was a juggling act that required other projects to go on the back burner, and sometimes even production was down-scaled to free-up servers for development. Then there was backup and DR. With backups running at a 70% success rate, DR was out of the question.

ECan considered upgrading its own IT environment, but quickly found numbers didn’t stack up. In any case, forecasting future requirements was likely to leave it either under resourced (requiring additional capital outlay) or over endowed with idle capacity (expensive).

Revera Homeland Government Cloud IaaS drives modernisation programme

Earlier success with IaaS sourced from a small, local provider encouraged ECan to go to market for a solution that could manage its entire enterprise. With the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) at the helm of Government ICT, Revera’s Government Cloud IaaS loomed large. Revera’s tender response put the decision beyond all doubt. With capacity now streamed to the ebb and flow of ECan’s programme of work, the organisation’s major plays are taking shape. A workforce mobility programme is on the close horizon, new public services are under development, and a host of Microsoft workplace apps are ready for activation.

ECan's Homeland Government Cloud IaaS experience

Peace of mind: ECan’s backup success rate hovered around 70%. Retrieving data was frequently impossible. Today, its data is backed up automatically to active disks at Revera’s ART data centre in Wellington. The regime has established a restoration pathway, which allows ECan to reactivate production systems within four working hours in the event of a data centre outage. DIA manages the master government IaaS contract, including SLAs and predefined escalation paths. DIA and Revera also work together to ensure catalogue offerings remain current. And audits confirm that Revera complies with cloud infrastructure security and performance standards.
Peak performance: ECan’s IT now runs smoothly. Capacity limitations that once slowed production are history. And gone are the days of managing upgrades in a live production environment. ECan spins up test and dev environments where it tests stability before cutting over new and upgraded apps. At any one time ECan works with 60-plus development servers.

Faster and more flexible: When ECan starts a new project, additional server capacity is a phone call away. Same with storage capacity. What’s more, ECan matches categories of data with the right tiers of storage. And when a project finishes, capacity is deactivated.

Service supply syncs with demand: ECan consumes IaaS on a pure utility basis, only paying for services actually used each month, in the process changing IT from a capital cost to opex. Services are dialled up to meet peak demand and dialled down in quiet times. Revera’s price-tagged infrastructure services also shine a light on specific costs and show which departments should pay for what, should ECan move cost accounting that direction.

Easier collaboration: Now that ECan draws IT from Revera’s AoG cloud, collaborating with other government agencies on joint projects is quick and easy.

“I’m happy with this model. It’s efficient, flexible and fixes major risks. We can do way more and it’s way safer.” - David Lewitt, CIO, ECan

“IaaS is flexible and fixes major risks. We can do way more and it’s way safer.”

- David Lewitt, CIO, ECan