Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s (HBRC) journey to the cloud starts like most others. Aging hardware undermined systems performance, sometimes even taking systems offline. And even though new hardware is known to improve systems performance, eventually the same old problems arise.
So the council sized up a new delivery model for IT, envisioning a web-connected ecosystem primed for the quick-fire addition of new applications, shared services initiatives, and mobile-ready workplace tools.
The vision led them to CCL’s IaaS platform, which today runs and delivers the lion’s share of HBRC’s production systems, including rating, financial, document management systems, and databases.
“We didn’t want to spend another unnecessary cent on kit or an on-premise server room,” said Kahl Olsen, HBRC’s ICT manager. “What’s more, sinking capital into IT cripples the economics of many shared services initiatives and new technologies, including pay-as-you-go cloud solutions, simply because the cost of running your own IT remains relatively unchanged, even when you turn systems off.”
“Our operations guys have become cloud architects – the days of traditional systems engineering are largely over.”Kahl Olsen, ICT Manager, HBRC
Taking advantage of cloud services
CCL’s catalogue of infrastructure services offers unit prices for VMs and tiers of storage, allowing HBRC to calculate costs and identify opportunities for savings when it deactivates specific services, or shifts data to different tiers of storage.
With virtualised systems running in CCL’s Takanini data centre, HBRC has activated additional services, including CCL Backup as a Service, which automates daily incremental and full backups. Also on the continuity front, the council maintains dual WAN links between Takanini and its Napier office. And in the unlikely event a major disaster cuts both links, a 4G mobile gateway maintains connectivity.
“As we settle in we’re tweaking services, shifting data to different storage tiers, and fine tuning other services,” said Olsen. “It’s also spurred a rethink about DR, because the traditional drivers associated with environmental failures, like air conditioning and generators, are no longer factors.”
The council is gearing up to replace its Citrix thin-client environment with virtual desktop platform CCL v-DaaS. And the final piece of its production environment, GIS, will move to the cloud once a distributed file system is in place.
“Operating a hybrid cloud is quite complex,” said Olsen. “One of our challenges was letting go and getting on with other work. We’ve moved from systems engineering to cloud architecture. So we’re just as busy, but on higher-value activity that delivers better services to the business.”
Ready for the future
With council operating in the cloud and Olsen and his operations team focused on their new responsibilities as cloud architects, HBRC’s ICT is primed for the future:
- Lower risk: Enterprise data centres are best left to experts. Olsen no longer has to worry about all the moving parts and potential failure of things like generators and air conditioning.
- Less waste: Olsen and his team dial up capacity for new projects and scale things back in quiet times. Scalable capacity also keeps them primed for shared services initiatives.
- More flexible: Olsen sees growing potential for cloud applications to deliver more council services. Working in an enterprise-class cloud, built from the ground up to integrate new applications and development tools, paves the way for quick assimilation of new technology.
- Go fast: HBRC is no longer constrained by creaking hardware and cumbersome capital budgets. When things change they’re ready to provision additional capacity. Everything happens much faster.
- From CAPEX to OPEX: With its data centre and supporting infrastructure out of the picture, HBRC has effectively removed IT assets from its balance sheet.