Cloud helps Isle of Man cut costs and boost IT performance

By Gareth Morgan
22 Sep 2011 View Comments
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The Isle of Man Government is on course to complete its transition to a hybrid cloud system for delivering IT, a move that has already helped to cut its IT costs by 15 per cent.

The plan to move its datacentre operations to a cloud-based system began in October 2010.

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“The target is to move 100 per cent by the end of October,” Peter Clarke, chief technology officer at the Isle of Man Government, told Computing.

To maximise its purchasing power, the Isle of Man Government uses a common infrastructure for all departments, from tax collection to healthcare services. It has also been an enthusiastic adopter of virtualisation technology.

It has previously introduced a single network to connect all its departments and its datacentres, as well as introducing a common virtual desktop service, based on Windows 7.

When it came to updating the datacentre, it was obvious that a cloud-based approach offered the opportunity to reduce IT costs while simultaneously improving performance.

The Isle of Man Government has four datacentres, two of which are used to host the business applications that underpin the public services it delivers, one is used monitor performance and one is for disaster recovery.

At the twin active datacentres, Clarke and his team have recently introduced virtual storage technology – EMC VPLEX – that enables data to be federated across the two datacentres and accessed from anywhere.

The majority of applications are now in virtual containers, so that if there is a failure in one site they automatically resume at the other centre.

“For our users, it’s a bit like The Matrix – there’s a slight wobble in what they’re looking at, but before they know it, normal service is resumed,” said Clarke.

The only applications this doesn’t apply to are a handful of legacy ones written for client-server environments, which need to re-establish a connection when they fail.

The Isle of Man Government has also updated its storage systems at the datacentres. For several years it has operated a tiered storage environment, but replacing its Tier 1 storage with solid state drives has made dramatic improvements to application performance.

Application performance has improved to the extent that many now have sub-second responses, said Clarke. “So the users can definitely see a marked improvement. Not that many of them thank us for it,” he added. “But perhaps the treasury guys might when they see how much we’ve managed to reduce costs [by].”

 

 

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