Hillingdon goes green with virtualisation

The London Borough of Hillingdon has dramatically cut its datacentre power consumption and held down staffing levels thanks to deploying server and storage virtualisation technologies.

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The London Borough of Hillingdon has dramatically cut its datacentre power consumption and held down staffing levels thanks to deploying server and storage virtualisation technologies.

Faced with 100% year-on-year data growth, the council decided to deploy a VMware virtual server environment and two storage area networks from Compellent.

The deployment reduced power consumption from 34kWh to 1.1 kWh, which resulted in a modest, but important £20,000 a year saving.

The council also provisioned 94 virtual servers on just three physical machines. This 97 percent reduction in server hardware helped save a further £50,000 a year by removing the need to expand the IT team.

Roger Bearpark, Assistant Head of ICT for the London Borough of Hillingdon, said, “Hillingdon is committed to driving sustainable, more environmentally friendly practices, and our green IT initiative enabled us to reduce the carbon footprint by 20 percent over 18 months.

“A significant part of this was achieved by replacing our disparate array of servers and storage hardware with a greener virtual environment using Compellent and VMware.”

The new architecture was designed and deployed by Fordway Solutions.

Hillingdon’s decision to look for a green IT solution was driven by clear business needs. Its existing storage systems were approaching capacity, and there were problems in bringing in more power for extra hardware.

It also faced data management problems. Its data storage requirements were doubling every 12 moths but only 10 per cent of the data was considered mission-critical at any time.

The other 90 per cent could not be moved to cheap offline storage because it is required at short notice to provide data for Whitehall reports, or for long-standing case files.

Fordway’s architecture used Compellent’s automated tiered storage to automatically moving the least used data blocks to the lowest cost, highest density disk drives.

A “thin provisioning” system reduced allocated, but unused capacity that is found in traditional storage arrays. As a result the council was able to purchase less storage hardware than it expected, while saving on power costs.

The new system’s ability to deliver continuous snapshots between its two SANs has also allowed the council a low cost disaster recovery system, which it is sharing with the local NHS.

Data for Hillingdon Primary Care Trust is stored on the council’s secondary SAN - the borough’s disaster recovery network, while the borough’s primary SAN provides the backup for the PCT’s data.

The council intends to use the system’s automated chargeback mechanism to allocate costs to the PCT, and to accurately charge its own departments for the storage they use.

 
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