To give citizens more bang for their buck, the Isle of Anglesey County Council was launching new cost-cutting and self-service initiatives—but needed to deal with the ensuing explosion of data.
By deploying a tiered storage environment based on IBM technology with help from Celerity, the Isle of Anglesey County Council ensured that deluges of data do not get in the way of service continuity.
Surpassescitizens’ expectations with consistently high levels of service
Drivesefficiency through lower TCO and support for cost-cutting initiatives
Providesa launch pad for innovation, supporting the council’s Digital Strategy
Business challenge story
Making public funds go further
Citizens want to feel confident that public organizations are doing everything they can to deliver value for money. In response, the Isle of Anglesey County Council is introducing a range of initiatives aimed at decreasing costs, without compromising on the quality of services it provides.
John Thomas, Head of IT at the Isle of Anglesey County Council, explains: “We are taking a variety of steps to become a more efficient and effective organization, drawing on technology where we can to help us along the way. For example, we are reducing our estate outside our central offices to cut costs. How? By freeing up central office space through smarter working and electronic document management, enabling employees to work from any location.
“There is also AppMÔN, our recently launched secure and fully bilingual mobile app, which lets citizens access and self-serve a range of services at a time and place that is most convenient to them. For example, they can use the app to report broken pavements or faulty streetlights using geo-coded maps and photographs, or to request new recycling bins. As a result, we can ease some of the pressure on our employees while raising citizen satisfaction—a win-win situation.”
However, one thing these initiatives have in common is the huge amounts of additional data that they generate. To ensure that its infrastructure could cope, the Isle of Anglesey County Council urgently needed a storage refresh.
Neil Summers, IT Infrastructure Manager at the Isle of Anglesey County Council, picks up the story: “Our data storage needs are growing by about 100 percent year-on-year, and we expect them to carry on escalating as we continue to update our services. Storage is the foundation for the entire IT landscape—if it fails, everything else grinds to a halt. We wanted to get it just right to make sure that we could support our evolution into a digital council.”
Taking a smarter approach
To ensure that it could meet the growing demands generated by its digital transformation, the Isle of Anglesey County Council implemented a new tiered storage environment based on IBM technology.
“Flash storage has long been on our horizon, but when it first came onto the market it was just too expensive for us,” says John Thomas. “That changed when we came across IBM® FlashSystem® 900, which gives us the ultra-fast performance of flash at a reasonable price point. We also felt more confident in the stability of flash solutions, as they now have a proven track-record.”
Neil Summers adds: “We also chose to deploy IBM Storwize® V7000, a hybrid storage system that supports standard, solid-state, and flash drives. Combined with the IBM Virtual Storage Center, we gained an end-to-end solution that offers us much greater capabilities, but is still easy to manage.”
The Isle of Anglesey County Council engaged IBM Premier Business Partner Celerity to help with the installation. Neil Summers continues: “Celerity clearly knew what they were doing at all stages of the implementation, making it a very smooth experience.”
The new storage landscape supports systems that are essential to the Isle of Anglesey County Council, including its revenue and benefits, human resources, and payroll management applications. By deploying IBM FlashSystem and Storwize in an active-active configuration across two datacenters, the Isle of Anglesey County Council will enable truly continuous operations.
“The IBM solutions offer lots of built-in features that enable a much smarter approach to storage management,” comments John Thomas. “The tiering all happens automatically, so we never have to worry about it—the hottest data is continually being moved to flash so that it's available the fastest. With IBM Metro Mirror, we can replicate data synchronously at the storage level, while taking advantage of IBM FlashCopy® means that we do not have to interrupt operations for backups or testing: we simply take a live snapshot and do what we want with it!”
Enabling services that wow citizens
The Isle of Anglesey County Council is now better equipped to cope with large amounts of data and peaks in demand, helping it meet—and even exceed—its service level targets.
“We can now dynamically provision storage resources, adapting our infrastructure to better meet the needs of the council,” remarks John Thomas. “When bad weather or a big event is coming up, we often experience a big spike in visitors to our website. Using the IBM solution, we can scale up resources to ensure that performance does not drop, no matter what.”
Recently, the flexibility of the council’s new storage environment was put to the test, as Neil Summers explains: “We had a two-week window to move our website servers from a hosted datacenter to our own infrastructure and complete all the necessary testing. Our Digital Services Manager was amazed at just how quickly and easily we were able to complete the move to the IBM solutions. We all breathed a sigh of relief at the lack of impact to citizen services—as far as they were concerned, the process was entirely invisible.”
Offering a lower total cost of ownership alongside greater capabilities than the previous storage platform, the new solution is helping the Isle of Anglesey County Council deliver better value for money to citizens.
Neil Summers elaborates: “Packing much more capacity within a smaller footprint than the storage landscape we had before, the IBM solution offers key cost savings. And because it can handle much larger amounts of data, it is the ideal platform to support measures such as digitization of paper documents and agile working.”
Next, the Isle of Anglesey County Council is considering the use of analytics to extract insights that will help it to raise service levels even further.
John Thomas concludes: “Our next big focus is analytics, which we could use to do things like identify vulnerable families so we can offer them help earlier, improving outcomes and reducing overall costs. With IBM storage solutions in place, we don’t need to hesitate: we are free to innovate, confident that they will be able to support us in whatever we decide to do next.”
About Isle of Anglesey County Council
The Isle of Anglesey County Council, or Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn in Welsh, is the governing body for the county of Anglesey, one of the unitary authority areas of Wales, UK. Providing a full range of local authority services, including education, social healthcare, waste collection and transport, the council’s strategic aims are focused on supporting the most vulnerable citizens, developing the economy and raising the standard of schools. The council employs approximately 3,000 people, including 30 councilors who represent 11 electoral wards.
- FlashSystem Software
- Storage: IBM FlashSystem 900
- Storage: Storwize V7000
- Virtual Storage Center