The Isle of Man (IoM) government has completed its transition to a hybrid cloud system, which will deliver savings of about £250,000 a year.
It opted for the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V technology and the Microsoft System Center suite for server virtualisation to support the move to the cloud.
The IoM government says that the new systems have increased data availability by up to eight times, boosted storage utilisation by 40 per cent with no additional hardware and reduced operating costs by 15 per cent.
"We moved to the cloud because we saw the potential to work better, faster and more cost effectively. It's about speed and cost, how quickly you can deploy and repair, and the quality of service. The cloud ticks all these boxes, increasing service levels, data flexibility and availability," said the IoM government's CTO, Peter Clarke.
Clarke explained that the process started in 2005, when the IoM government consolidated its network.
"We consolidated our network in 2005 as we wanted all of our commodity servers in one place. Then we looked into virtualising the whole of our IT estate," he said.
Clarke said that in 2005, there were only two options available for server virtualisation to support the move to the cloud.
"We looked at Microsoft Hyper-V 2005 and VMware because they were the only two that could perform well in an infrastructure based largely on Microsoft technology.
"However, VMware exceeded our cost limits and wouldn't have allowed us to save money so we went for Hyper-V," he said.
Clarke said that the IoM government then gradually virtualised the whole of its desktop estate.
"We are now on Windows 7 and 98 per cent of our estate is virtualised. The remaining two per cent incorporates our security features such as anti-virus, which is kept separate from the application virtualisation," he said.
Provisioning the servers took around five months but the more time-consuming task was to schedule the changeover for the IoM government to move its entire public services infrastructure to a hybrid cloud service.
This meant shifting more than 1,000 applications into the new environment, which took 12 months.
The IoM government uses the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 for centralised management and Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 for tapeless recovery.
"Through the Microsoft System Center suite and server virtualisation, the Isle of Man government has automated system performance monitoring, ensuring IT staff spend more time on proactive, high-value work," Clarke said.
Clarke said that the cost savings came from a number of factors.
"Unit costs were cut by 40 per cent. As use of the systems is on a pay-as-you-go financial model with no upfront investment costs, this has also cut the amount of spending and compared with our previous upgrade of datacentres in 2005, which cost £2m, we spent less than £300,000. All of this has allowed us to save £250,000 a year," he said.
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