Changing a government data centre is like altering a parliament building while the members are still sitting. This white paper describes how one of Australia's fastest growing local authorities virtualised their servers to improve the service it offered to its inhabitants, while keeping within tight budgets.
Case StudyGovernmentData Center of the FutureIntel Solution Services Helps Transform Municipal Government's ITInfrastructure with Dual-Core Intel Xeon Processor Based Servers andVMware Virtualization SoftwareChallenges " Transform Melton Shire's growing IT infrastructure into one that is easier tomanage and more resilient, enabling the rapid deployment of new server-based applications" Develop and run tests to demonstrate that the recommended infrastructurewill provide the performance, flexibility, and scalability to meet the Shire'sneeds for the next three yearsSolutions " Intel Solution Services performed a detailed assessment of the current ITenvironment and user requirements; the team then architected a virtualizedserver infrastructure to meet those requirements and validated the proposedarchitecture with testing" Testing showed that two 4-way 64-bit Dual-Core Intel Xeon MP 7040processor based servers with VMware virtualization software would easilyhandle the load of 12 existing servers " A standard server operating environment comprising Microsoft Windows* andMicrosoft SQL Server* will help improve administrative productivity and reducethe skills needed to support the IT infrastructureBenefits" The use of powerful Dual-Core Intel Xeon MP 7040 processor based serversreduced the number of servers needed from 12 to 2 lowering equipment and IT administration costs while also providing enough headroom to handlefuture growth" The virtualized environment enables new servers and applications to bedeployed within minutes compared to three weeks previously; provisioning and support downtime is reduced and almost eliminated " Thorough testing and a detailed migration plan enabled the government tomove forward with full confidence in the costs and performance of therecommended infrastructureMelton Shire Steps Toward theFuture with Intel Enterprise ITArchitectureUntitled DocumentThe Shire of Melton, located to the immediate west ofMelbourne, Australia, is a rapidly growing municipalityrecognized for its quality of life, progressive gover-nance, and diverse population. Faced with a complex ITinfrastructure and increasing demands for governmentservices, the Melton Shire Council (MSC) decided that anIT overhaul was due. The council wanted a cost-effec-tive IT infrastructure that could support additional government business systems, was flexible and easy to manage, and could withstand a disaster. To helpdesign this IT environment, MSC turned to Intel Solution Services.Business ChallengeTransforming a government data center is like replacingthe floor of the parliament building while members arein session. And managing rapid growth in services atthe same time makes the challenge even greater. Melton is the third fastest growing region in Australia, says Mark Domma, MSC's IT manager. That, combinedwith limited funding available for local government, creates significant challenges for our IT organization. To support the demand for government services,Domma and his team deployed numerous businessapplications following a one application, one server approach. Our infrastructure had become complex andlabor-intensive to manage, with a variety of MicrosoftWindows* and Linux* applications running on 12servers, he explains. MSC is definitely a forward-thinking local governmentthat recognizes how IT can improve the services pro-vided to citizens, Domma continues. And the growthin applications is expected to continue. This year, weplan to add systems to manage documents, customerrequests, and assets. In the near future, we will addmany more systems. We have also had preliminary dis-cussions about Web-based online applications forplanning, building permits, and payment services tomake doing business with the government easier andmore efficient. With increasing reliance on IT to support governmentservices, Domma wanted to improve resiliency againstunplanned outages or a major disaster. Our infrastruc- Intel Solution Services' detailed analysis made usconfident that virtualization would work in ourenvironment and address our scalability andbusiness continuity issues. Mark DommaIT ManagerMelton Shire CouncilKey Technologies" Intel Solution Services planned the migration ofMSC's IT infrastructure to Dual-Core Intel Xeon MP 7040 processor-based servers with VMwareESX Server* virtualization." A standard server operating environment based onMicrosoft Windows* and SQL Server* database wasshown to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.Services Provided" Intel Solution Services performed a detailed IT assessment and analysis and provided a roadmap for transforming MSC's IT infrastructure into a more manageable, agile, and cost-effective environment. " Intel consultants conducted system and application tests to confirm the compatibility and performance of the proposed IT infrastructure with MSC's applications and workload. Through theinnovative use of technology,we can helpensure MeltonShire will alwaysbe one ofgreatest placesto live in the world. Chris PapasMayorShire of Melton, AustraliaUntitled Documentture was fairly rigid, so it would take us at least twoweeks to bring up our core systems if a disaster hitthe data center, he explains. We needed a way toquickly shift services to another location. In order to meet the Shire's increasing demands for ITservices, Domma decided it was time for a change. Wewere facing significant investments in new applicationsand felt it was time to move to a more planned andmanageable environment, he says. To make sure anynew investment would be viable for years to come, wedecided to seek outside expert assistance in developinga strategic plan for moving ahead. Business SolutionAfter reviewing the capabilities of several IT consultingfirms, Domma selected Intel Solution Services forassistance. The Intel consultants obviously had thetechnical expertise in Intel architecture based servers,and because Intel is not a system builder, we knew theywould provide objective analysis and recommendations, he explains. They had experience deploying virtualization,which we knew had great potential to help our situation.Plus, the Intel consultants had recent experience workingwith another local government here in Australia. Intel Solution Services applies bestpractices to assess requirementsThe Intel consultants began the engagement with athorough assessment of Melton Shire's existing IT infrastructure. They inventoried all IT assets includingthe server infrastructure, network, and storage sys-tems and conducted workshops with key MSC staff tounderstand how each business system was used. The Intel team took a very broad view of our environ-ment, which provided a solid foundation for their recommendations, Domma explains. They performed adetailed analysis of application workloads and performance,server utilization, storage, and the network. Theyanalyzed our applications to determine their suitabilityfor running in a virtualized environment and identifiedissues that warranted further investigation. A risk analysis was performed to determine the impactof downtime for each application and to establish priori-ties for restoring applications following an unscheduledoutage. Projected growth in applications, users, and trans-actions was used to determine scalability requirements.Spotlight: The Shire of MeltonThe Shire of Melton is a rapidly growingmunicipality of picturesque rural communitieswest of Melbourne. The region is governed bythe Melton Shire Council 7 elected officialsand a staff of over 300 full-time employeesproviding a wide range of services, from land-use planning and innovative youth programsto the management of roads, public parks,libraries, and waste disposal. Progressive and forward-thinking, the council's leadershipand executives are committed to providingthe services necessary for their growing communities while preserving the Shire'sunique character for future generations. They believe IT is vital in fulfilling their publicresponsibilities and have taken a significantstep toward the future in adopting a world-class IT infrastructure to support their visionfor the Shire. To make sure anynew investmentwould be viablefor years to come,we decided toseek outsideexpert assistancein developing astrategic plan formoving ahead. Mark DommaIT ManagerMelton Shire CouncilUntitled DocumentIntel experts architect a flexible, cost-effective virtualized serverinfrastructureBased on their analysis, the Intel consultants offeredMSC a choice of virtualized server configurations thatconsolidated the 12 existing servers onto either two 4-way Dual-Core Intel Xeon MP 7040 processor based servers or four 2-way Dual-Core blade servers.While the blade server option offered a higher densityand modular structure for expansion purposes, the two 4-way servers provided a natural failover capacityin the virtualized environment, as well as better built-in PCI bus support. Plus, the two 4-way servers incurredless initial investment.VMware ESX Server* software was recommended toprovide the virtualized server environment, in whichmultiple virtual machines host independent operatingenvironments on a single physical server. New virtualmachines can be provisioned in minutes withoutadding hardware. This reduces costs by allowing newapplications to be added to existing servers, while alsodramatically improving the speed of deploying applica-tions and responding to user service requests formore capacity.The consultants also recommended adopting a standard server operating environment (SOE) for the virtual machines that included the MicrosoftWindows operating system and SQL Server* databasesoftware. Moving from multiple operating systems and data-bases to the SOE would reduce complexityand the breadth of support skills needed, leading toreduced costs as well as increased administrator productivity. The SOE would also reduce the cost ofadditional Linux and IBM Informix* database licensesrequired to build the backup data center.The virtualized and standardized server infrastructurefit well with the consultants' recommended disasterrecovery plans. Administrators can use VMotion*, atool from VMware, to move users and applicationsamong virtual machines. This capability also facilitatesthe creation of a backup server infrastructure andenables users to be moved quickly to the backup siteif necessary.Intel consultants develop objectiveapplication testing proceduresAdopting an SOE required migrating the CivicaAuthority Suite* which represents about 60 percentof the MSC environment from Linux to Windows, andswitching from the Informix database to MicrosoftSQL Server. In order to validate the proposed IT archi-tecture, the consultants conducted a series at tests inthe Sydney Intel Solution Center in Sydney. Theywanted to confirm the compatibility of the AuthoritySuite with the virtualized infrastructure and compareits performance running in the SOE with its perform-ance on Linux using the Informix database.As Domma explains, An actual test of the migratedapplication running in the virtualized SOE would giveus a final proof point for the recommendation. The Intel consultants created two test environments:one ran the Authority application as it was on Linuxwith the Informix database, while the other ran theapplication on Microsoft Windows with the SQL Serverdatabase. Each two-tier environment consisted of twodual-core Intel Xeon processor based servers one forthe Authority Suite and one for the database. A virtualprivate network between the Intel Solution Center andthe Melton data center enabled MSC applications anddata to be migrated to the test environments. MercuryWinRunner* tools were used to drive the tests.FPO The Intelconsultantsobviously had the technicalexpertise in Intel architecture basedservers, andbecause Intel isnot a systembuilder, we knewthey wouldprovide objectiveanalysis andrecommendations. Mark DommaIT ManagerMelton Shire CouncilUntitled DocumentThe Intel consultants wrote test scripts to exercisethe Authority application as users would. System per-formance metrics processor, memory, I/O, networkutilization, and response times were measured as thenumber of users was increased.Test results confirm function andperformance of the virtualizedarchitectureThe test results demonstrated that the proposed IntelXeon processor based server environment would support the MSC applications with virtually no impacton user response times. In fact, average server utilization was only 25 percent, leaving a significantamount of headroom for growth. Based on the performance of the pilot, we wereextremely confident in the path Intel had recom-mended, Domma says. The testing not only provedthat our Authority application would run well, but alsodemonstrated the flexibility and performance of thevirtualized server infrastructure. Besides an expectedcost savings of about AUD 150,000 over four years,the recommended architecture truly addresses our scalability and business continuity issues."Intel provides a roadmap fordeploymentThe Intel consultants provided detailed deploymentplans for the virtualized infrastructure. A complete billof materials was developed, including vendor-neutralserver specifications to allow multiple vendors to bid on the project. Installation and user migration procedures were created, as well as documentation forthe configuration of the new systems. Environmentalfactors were provided for the Melton data center andremote disaster recovery site across the Shire inCaroline Springs. The deployment plans demonstrated the broad anddeep expertise of the Intel consultants, Domma says. Their process recommendations and attention to detailmade us confident that there would be no surprisesalong the way. MSC moves ahead with full confidenceDomma's staff accepted the Intel IT infrastructure proposal they retained Intel Solution Services to assistduring the implementation phase. The expertisedemonstrated by Intel throughout this project not onlyenabled us to make an informed decision to moveahead but also convinced us they would be of valueduring the deployment phase, Domma says.The elected officials of Melton Shire believe IT plays asignificant role in their plans for government services."As elected officials, we strive for a balance of vision,performance, and cost," says Mayor Chris Papas. "IntelSolution Services has shown us how to gain advan-tages in each of these areas, giving us the ability toadd the IT services we need to meet the needs of ourgrowing communities. Through the innovative use oftechnology, we can help ensure that the Melton ShireCouncil will deliver on its vision that our community will always be one of the greatest places to live in the world."Return on Investment" Testing confirmed that two 4-way dual-core Intel Xeon MP 7040 processor based servers would deliver similar response times to the existing 12 servers, with plenty of headroom for growth in users and applications." A virtualized Intel architecture based IT infrastructure would improve systems administrator productivityby enabling new services to be provisioned in minutes without adding physical servers." MSC expects that a consolidated database platform would reduce software licensing costs by AUD8,000 per year.Untitled DocumentIntel Solution Services is Intel Corporation's worldwide professional services organization, helping enterprise companiescapitalize on the full value of Intel architecture through consulting focused on architecture transitions. 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