Scottish Borders Council

Local council feels the strain to deliver more for less in order to deliver an improved level of customer service to their citizens.

Like most public sector organisations, Scottish Borders Council has felt the increasing pressure to get more out of their budget and adopt a ‘do more for less’ attitude.

Like most public sector organisations, Scottish Borders Council has felt the increasing pressure to get more out of their budget and adopt a ‘do more for less’ attitude.

Mark Humble, Technical Team Leader at Scottish Borders Council said, “It’s a matter of looking at your entire operation and finding ways in which you can deliver a better service to the public, on an increasingly smaller budget.” Partnering with IT services provider, Esteem Systems, the Council has found that one of the ways to reduce costs whilst delivering on service is with a consolidated modernised IT infrastructure.

Ageing infrastructure unable to cope with increasing storage demands

Scottish Borders had an ageing IT estate. Their existing storage systems were coming to the end of their support lifecycle and needed extra flexibility to cope with the Council’s rapid data increase. Mark confirmed, “We anticipate a 20% growth in data year on year, every year. We couldn’t afford to replace our storage model every year; therefore to accommodate this growth, we needed a storage solution which could adapt along with our growing requirements.”

The Council also had multiple server systems which were becoming increasingly more expensive and time consuming to manage. Maintenance costs were increasing as the technology aged, and employee productivity decreased as the management of the infrastructure became increasingly time consuming. Any changes to their applications had to be replicated manually onto each of their servers, which was a challenge for the Council’s small IT team. This process also included mirroring applications onto their Disaster Recovery (DR) infrastructure.

IT services provider, Esteem Systems helped design a solution for Scottish Borders Council that would produce long term benefits and deliver a more cost effective service.

Consolidated infrastructure and unified storage solution reduces costs and improves performance

Scottish Borders Council decided to unify their storage solution onto a single platform and consolidate their hardware using the latest Dell Compellent storage and Oracle servers to improve performance.

The Oracle servers provided the capabilities needed to increase performance whilst reducing maintenance time and costs.

The unified storage centralised their infrastructure and provided adequate capacity for growth, without the need for expensive additional infrastructure upgrades as data grows.

In addition to the long term cost benefits of a modern platform, a consolidated solution enabled better manageability and control, reduced server room overheads, reduced carbon footprint, quicker application provisioning leading to improved levels of service, less business downtime, improved back up times and improved disaster recovery capabilities.

Esteem designed, built and implemented the new storage solution based on Dell Compellent Technology and consolidated the Council’s Oracle servers from five to three, two located at the Council’s Headquarters, and one at their Disaster Recovery site.

The IT services provider migrated the Council’s key systems onto the new hardware, including HR, Revenue and Benefits, Social Work and Trading Standards applications. Mark commented,

“Esteem helped cover the migration period within business hours, which resulted in minimal down time. The whole process ran very smoothly.” Esteem also helped plan and prepare the Council to carry out their own migration of the remainder of applications.

Latest Oracle Servers increase efficiencies and minimises downtime

The updated Oracle SPARC servers will deliver long term cost savings for the Council, as a result of the reduced hardware requirements and maintenance costs.

Mark said “Consolidating our servers gave us a strategically capable platform which is much easier to manage.”

The Oracle infrastructure is also able to continuously replicate any changes to applications onto the Council’s DR server automatically, without any user intervention, freeing up valuable time for the internal IT staff and limiting business disruption for the rest of the Council’s employees.

Mark said, “We’re already starting to see how the simplified infrastructure will improve employee productivity, with our IT staff having more time to focus on other areas of the business.”

The Council are already noticing a number of benefits from the modernised system. Mark confirmed, “There’s a noticeable difference in the faster delivery of applications, with less downtime, which ultimately is enabling our employees to deliver a better service. Backup times have also been significantly reduced.”

Scalable storage provides foundation for Council to grow

The Dell storage solution exceeded the Council’s expectations of what was achievable. Mark stated, “Esteem has provided us with a scalable platform which will be able to cope with our increasing data demands going forward.”

The Council’s data, now stored centrally within a shared environment also improved the Council’s Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO), in line with their intent to provide more resilient disaster recovery capabilities. If one server fails the workloads can be restarted on the secondary server, providing greater application availability, and a much simpler fail over system for the internal IT team to manage.

Mark finished by commenting on the Council’s partnership with Esteem, “Esteem has a history of delivering high quality work for Scottish Borders Council; they have repeatedly proven their expertise. For this project in particular, we set them an aggressive timescale and budget, both of which were successfully kept to.”

Services

  • Analysis and design services
  • Build, supply and implementation of Oracle and Dell infrastructure
  • Product system design
  • Project management
  • Application and data migration services
  • Support services

Hardware

  • Sun SPARC Enterprise servers
  • Dell Compellent SAN Clustered Storage Centres
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“Esteem has a history of delivering high quality work for Scottish Borders Council; they have repeatedly proven their expertise.” Mark Humble, Technical Team Leader at Scottish Borders Council

Key benefits reported by Scottish Borders Council

  • Simplified, consolidated storage platform easier to manage and maintain
  • Scalability to adapt with growing data requirements
  • Reduced costs from reduced hardware requirements and maintenance costs
  • Reduced management time and quicker application provisioning increases employee productivity
  • Less downtime improves level of service to the public
  • More resilient and seamless disaster recovery systems

Get in touch

Get in touch with us by completing the form below and we'll get back to you shortly. Alternatively, you can e-mail us on contact@esteem.co.uk or call us on 01937 861 000.