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Brighton and Hove gets ready for Orbis migration

Brighton and Hove City Council has already moved its co-location servers onto Nutanix nodes. It is now looking at moving its primary Hove datacentre

Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) aims to complete the migration of its datacentre infrastructure over to a new shared service by April 2019.

The Orbis partnership with East Sussex County Council and Surrey County Coucil, which was signed in 2016, has seen the local authority migrate its backup datacentre over to a shared datacentre in Redhill.

Among the decisions BHCC took during the migration was to update its ageing three-tier architecture to hyper-converged infrastructure.

Simon Killick, senior ICT analyst at BHCC, said: “We had a traditional three-tier infrastructure with iSCSI storage and used Veeam for backup.”

At the time BHCC became a member of the Orbis partnership, it had a local datacentre in Hove and a remote co-location facility in Swindon. Through the Orbis partnership, it gained a datacentre in Redhill and an opportunity to move workloads there.

Orbis gave BHCC access to a three-node Nutanix cluster at Redhill, which was not being used. Killick said the Nutanix nodes gave BHCC a chance to look at alternatives to its existing three-tier setup.

“Due to our ageing co-location infrastructure in Swindon, we wanted to see what options were available,” he said. “Surrey had purchased the three-node Nutanix cluster a few years ago and they weren’t being used.”

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The team at BHCC decided to test the Nutanix servers to ascertain if they could be used to run the council’s workloads. As Killick explains, this would speed up migration. “We would be able to rapidly move over to the Orbis datacentre, since there would be no need to cable in our own servers,” he said.

The migration also involved updating the council’s old VMware ESX 5.5 installation to ESX 6.5. “We started with the infrastructure servers, and had to make sure our Veeam backup software could be integrated,” said Killick.

He said BHCC successfully installed VMware vCenter and Citrix XenApp on the old Nutanix nodes. This was effectively the proof of concept stage before BHCC purchased a further four new nodes to replace the old ones it acquired through Orbis.

“We then pulled out the older nodes and used them as a test cluster,” he said. “The new nodes had higher performance and greater storage capacity, which meant we we could migrate the whole of our Swindon co-location infrastructure onto the new cluster at Orbis.” In addition, he said the council has begun the migration of its Citrix XenApp servers, which support 1,500 users.

Phase 2 of the migration, which BHCC aims to finish by April this year, will see BHCC move the workloads from its Hove datacentre into Orbis. “We have purchased five new nodes to add to our four-node cluster,” said Killick.

He said the original three-node Nutanix cluster would be used to start testing Nutanix’ own AHV hypervisor, which the council could use instead of VMware. Among the areas Killick said the migration team will investigate is how the functionality of the Veeam backup software works under AHV compared to VMware ESX.

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