Staffordshire County Council has implemented private cloud computing services as it aims to offer more public services online.
Staffordshire County Council chose Manchester-based cloud supplier ANS Group to design and implement its IT infrastructure to support the web services. Staffordshire Council’s ageing infrastructure was not fit to support its growing requirement for a faster and more reliable IT environment.
The private cloud platform was implemented in its datacentre infrastructure.
“The council was running on dated infrastructure that was no longer fulfilling the organisation's IT demands for agility and ‘always on’ services,” said Vic Falcus, head of IT service management at Staffordshire County Council.
The local authority needed secure, robust, scalable and reliable IT to support its growing services and to increase its digital services.
ANS Group – which won the contract after a 12-way tender process – first refreshed Staffordshire Council’s datacentre with FlexPod i3 (Infrastructure 3.0) technology.
FlexPod is a reference architecture for server, storage and networking components that are pre-tested and validated to work together as an integrated infrastructure stack. It comprises products from multiple suppliers and is sold by storage supplier NetApp and its value-added resellers (VARs) and systems integrators.
A FlexPod infrastructure stack comprises NetApp FAS storage, Cisco Systems Unified Computing System (UCS) and either VMware or Microsoft hypervisor technology.
FlexPods are designed to be modular and offer the highest possible degree of flexibility, but without sacrificing reliability in the process.
ANS’s i3 Cisco/Microsoft/NetApp/VMware FlexPod architecture – which is increasingly implemented as a cloud-based solution – makes the cloud provider one of the top suppliers of FlexPod in Europe, handling around 14% of all EU installations.
Earlier this year, Greater Manchester Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) – part of the government’s ongoing restructure of health and social care – signed a three-year multi-million pound IT contract for cloud computing services with ANS Group based on its i3 Flexpod technology.
The datacentre upgrade has helped Staffordshire Council improve the performance, agility and availability of its IT services. With NetApp data replication tools, additional high availability disaster recovery capabilities are included in the infrastructure and it helps the council ensure business continuity and robust IT services delivery.
The infrastructure refresh project has allowed the council to realise major savings on its hardware refresh and maintenance budgets.
“Because we required a significant upgrade, we needed to ensure that we had a flexible and scalable solution and a partner that would ensure that our network would support future and strategic changes in the way that Staffordshire County Council operates,” said Falcus.
"Not only did we achieve this, we also reduced our future expenditure by 40%.”
The project has also increased the resilience of the council’s two datacentres and, by boosting capacity, ANS has allowed for movement of key services and data between the datacentres to preserve service availability, even when essential IT maintenance is carried out.
“Councils are finding that more and more of the services they provide to the public rely on IT and older infrastructures simply aren’t able to cope with this new demand,” said Paul Sweeney, managing director of ANS.
With this investment in its datacentre and with a private cloud infrastructure, Staffordshire County Council has a “cutting edge IT infrastructure in place, with an improved capacity for handling increasing workloads”, Sweeney said.
Read more on Datacentre capacity planning
Salford City Council keys into private cloud benefits
CIO Interview: Norfolk County Council's Tom Baker on using data to improve public services
Manchester’s Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust streamlines IT with private cloud
NHS awards multi-million pound private cloud contract to Manchester-based ANS