How Barnsley Council became a tier three datacentre

Spending cuts, the need to deliver high-quality IT at lower costs and efficiency needs saw Barnsley Council pick a robust tier 3 datacentre facility

The current squeeze in public sector spending, the need to deliver high-quality IT services at lower costs and the aim to drive efficiencies saw the Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council move from a tier one datacentre facility to a more robust tier three facility. Its ITV services have also been outsourced.

The council wanted to outsource its IT function to minimise the increasing costs of the ICT function and to provide a more reliable, secure, responsive and robust IT infrastructure to the borough’s businesses and residents.

It also wanted a more robust datacentre infrastructure to minimise IT costs and improve service efficiencies.

As a result, it signed a contract with IT service provider, Bull Information Systems and set up a joint venture company called Tuscan Connects Ltd which will provide core ICT services, such as desktop and network support, and datacentre services to the council.

Barnsley council owns 20% of the joint venture, while Bull Information Systems owns the remaining 80%. Barnsley borough’s contract with the IT provider runs until 2021.

As part of the partnership, the council has established a state of the art tier three datacentre to replace its existing tier one infrastructure. The new datacentre, located in Barnsley next to the football club, involved a capital investment of £1.5m.  

Barnsley's tier three datacentre strategy

Datacentre tier standards are used to determine availability in a facility. The tiered system, developed by the Uptime Institute, offers companies a way to measure return on investment (ROI) and performance. The standards comprise a four-tiered scale, with Tier four being the most robust. 

A tier one datacentre is a single, non-redundant distribution path serving IT equipment and has non-redundant capacity components. Whereas, a tier three datacentre facility includes multiple independent distribution paths serving an IT equipment, making it more robust.

The tier three datacentre provides a cost-effective, reliable and secure ICT infrastructure

Philippe Vannier, Bull Information Systems

In addition, all IT equipment in a tier three facility is dual-powered and fully compatible within the topology of the IT architecture.

The council’s legacy tier one datacentre facility had not had significant investment for more than 20 years and was suffering from an inadequate technical environment with IT equipment that was rapidly becoming obsolete.

Instead of refreshing its tier one datacentre with new hardware for limited efficiency, the council decided to upgrade to a more efficient overall datacentre infrastructure and managed services.

The technical infrastructure within the new Barnsley datacentre now provides local business with a more flexible IT service. It also features state of the art cooling system and a fail-safe/reduction measure to improve the reliability and resilience of the council’s IT delivery systems.

“Helping drive business success is certainly one of the guiding principles of Barnsley datacentre, and IT systems are key to achieving this core goal,” says Philippe Vannier, chairman and CEO, Bull Information Systems.

Benefits of the new datacentre infrastructure to the borough and its businesses

The tier three datacentre now provides a cost-effective, reliable and secure ICT infrastructure that has laid the foundations for improvements in both council services and further economic development in the borough, according to Bull.

The council has been able to save IT costs and energy to meet the government’s efficiency agenda.

Barnsley council’s IT team is also able to save costs and minimise waste by providing unused datacentre resources to other public sector organisations and other councils through datacentre tenancy agreements.

In addition to the datacentre, the council uses Bull’s IT management services to create an environment that delivers business agility, flexibility and scalability to businesses in the region. This has helped the borough foster the development of a broad range of organisations from start-up entrepreneurs and banks to schools and colleges.

The move from in-house, self-managed legacy IT architectures to hosting, co-location, virtualisation and cloud computing has helped Barnsley council yield other benefits too. It is helping the organisation transition its IT from a cost element to a driver of added value for the business and helping it deliver “more with less”.

From the IT perspective too, there are a range of key benefits and efficiencies with the new datacentre. This includes virtualisation, IT consolidation, reduction of server sprawl and subsequent space and power savings. In addition, the council’s IT team benefits from easier backup and archiving so it can focus more on IT strategies than day-to-day management and mundane IT tasks.

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