Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council acts upon public spending review and saves over half a million pounds with a virtualised and managed IT infrastructure.
As a result of the central government spending review, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council had to reduce the cost of providing their services, without reducing the level and quality of service they delivered to the public. Subsequent to the review, the Council looked to the latest IT developments to help achieve the cost savings they needed to make. Following a competitive tendering exercise Esteem were selected to help achieve the required targets.
Although their existing IT estate was efficient, the aging technology couldn’t match the performance and cost effectiveness of newer, advanced technologies. Esteem understood the Council’s requirements and provided Knowsley with a way to increase their level of service to the public whilst significantly reducing costs. This was achieved by providing a new virtualised infrastructure using Oracle’s Solaris Zones and a managed service for the day to day management of the Oracle infrastructure.
Sam Maiden, Technical Solutions Manager at Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, said: “The public spending review puts tremendous amounts of pressure on public sector organisations to consistently make savings, year on year. With the advice from Esteem, we realised we could make significant cuts and increase efficiencies with a virtualised infrastructure and a managed service which would increase our productivity, enabling us to provide a better service to the public.”
Esteem designed, built and implemented the new Oracle Infrastructure, optimised by engineering a solution built on the complete Oracle ‘Red stack’, including servers, databases, middleware and storage. The infrastructure was built to host and manage Knowsley’s business critical applications including Council Tax, Housing Benefits, Social Services, Payroll and HR and the Financial Management and Procurement Education Management System.
An extensive project plan was put in place to migrate business users onto the new platform, along with the migration of Knowsley’s business critical and confidential data. The majority of the work was completed out of hours so that there was no business downtime or unplanned impact to the Council’s IT environment. Sam said, “The migration process was a fantastic,seamless and painless experience. When you don’t get a pat on the back for a migration because no one knows it has happened, that’s the best result you could ask for.”
Advancements in Oracle technology meant that Esteem could implement a smaller IT estate which would not only match the existing level of service but offer an increased level of efficiency. The up to date technology provided Knowsley with a better performing platform and offered further flexibility and scalability to its users. In regards to cost savings, the lower requirement of hardware and software saved the Council £100,000 per year, over a 5 year period in direct costs.
The Council’s Disaster Recovery (DR) infrastructure was also upgraded as part of the project, making sure that in the event of any failure, be it a technical fault or natural disaster, all of Knowsley’s data would fail over to a secondary, secure, Oracle server at their DR site. Part of the Oracle infrastructure which was being replaced at the Council’s main site, was reused as part of the DR upgrade, taking a sustainable approach to the lifecycle of their hardware.
Esteem used their own proprietary monitoring software, Intelligent Audit™, to analyse and demonstrate the costs savings from the reduced power usage of the new infrastructure. The reduction of power usage, mainly the electrical running costs of the data centre such as air conditioning for cooling the servers, highlighted an extra £20,000 saving per year on top of the £100k per year in hardware and software maintenance. This allowed the Council to report back to Central Government not only on their spending cuts but also on their reduced carbon emissions. Sam confirmed: “Reducing our carbon footprint is one of Knowsley’s key targets, Intelligent Audit™ provided us with all the statistics we needed to evaluate and report on our developments.”
At the same time as upgrading their infrastructure, Knowsley also renewed their managed service agreement with Esteem. The managed service allows Knowsley to deliver against their business objectives by removing the requirement for in-house day to day management of their Oracle infrastructure.
The managed service from Esteem includes the management of Knowsley’s Oracle databases – making sure data and applications are performing at an optimum level.
Esteem also manages the Council’s Oracle infrastructure, supporting the server environment onsite and remotely. From Esteem’s dedicated Managed Service Operation Centre, they can predict, establish and fix problems within the Council’s Oracle IT environment, before they even occur.
Sam said: “Our remote service with Esteem means our down time as a business is significantly reduced. If a problem does occur, we can just call their service desk and pass the problem over, with the confidence that it will be fixed within agreed timescales.”
With Esteem ensuring the Oracle infrastructure is maintained and managed, the Council’s internal IT team can focus on developing other areas of the business to improve the level of service that they offer to the council’s internal customers and ultimately the public, thus also increasing employee productivity.
Choosing a managed service from Esteem also saves Knowsley time and money in regards to recruitment and training. Sam continued: “Along with the economical benefits, choosing a managed service for Oracle Infrastructure support allows our IT department to run as efficiently as possible.”
Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council has a long standing relationship with Esteem Systems, which spans over 15 years. Sam commented, “Esteem doesn’t treat us as one of a long list of customers. We have a valued partnership and a very successful relationship.”
“For us, it’s important to have a partnership with key suppliers, and we have a great partnership with Esteem.” He continued: “When the chips are down and something goes wrong, you don’t want your supplier to have meetings about it, you don’t want to be waiting around for repair quotes, you want someone who fixes the problem. That’s what Esteem does.”
“Along with the economical benefits, choosing a managed service for Oracle infrastructure support allows our IT department to run as efficiently as possible.” Sam Maiden, Technical Solutions Manager at Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council