Cloud: the silver lining

Notes from a BrightTalk webcast by Roger Bearpark from Hillingdon (London Borough) Council. Captured as we go; you can access the replay (link below).

Hillingdon’s crisis challenge (“we can’t get round this one”) was inability to uprate power supplies for ongoing increases in server capacity – without digging up the High Street which for a Local Authority wouldn’t be popular.

Started with a virtualisation programme for servers. Took the time to baseline before moving (they had 3 months while moving to the early decisions) e.g. space and power consumption – these were not ICT direct responsibility so not previously measured. This meant that demonstrating benefits was on a strong footing. Hillingdon use formal project and measurement technologies such as Six Sigma (and Prince). NB: keep your measurement skills in house!

Next stage: SAN. Now “spin only the storage we need”. In-house hosted, partly because of inadequate industry understanding of local government-specific compliance needs. Spin-off benefits include better recoverability, built-in. Plus, management information is easier e.g. to communicate to teams how much storage they are using.

Now includes printing and telephony. Not virtualised desktops at the moment; kit is modern and on a refresh programme. Less air conditioning needed. Reduced number of sites – less travel. All this contributes to green agenda. Plus introduced some Cloud apps, accessible to users both working from home and out on site.

Changed ways of working e.g. in purchasing strategy, based on much better understanding. Showed BT and IBM definitions of cloud: two different tech-centred definitions. Then Salesforce & Amazon – user centred rather than tech centred, perhaps more marketing-speak. Illustrates the difficulty of understanding what’s going on without own experience. Now on (at least) equal terms with suppliers.

Support culture has changed too: there is less mundane work in the second/third line. Much more dynamic delivery: hours (or minutes) not days or weeks. Challenges include security (resolving the conflict between this and accessibility), especially as other organisations buy in to shared services; bandwidth (increasingly important). Looking at further opportunities e.g. based on (central government) G-cloud app store and commercial cloud services.

Links:
Separating Cloud computing from hot air, BrightTalk webcast, 27 Oct 2010 (replay)
London Borough of Hililngdon
Compellent “fluid storage”
• G-cloud: difficult to find a single up to date reference. Use Google.

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