4-page Case Study
Posted: 11/7/2011
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Government of Ontario Ontario Government Sees Waves of Potential After Testing Private Cloud Solution

As Ontario, Canada’s largest province, sought to update its aging infrastructure in advance of a new data centre in March 2011, the government wanted to test the feasibility of setting up a private cloud to improve efficiency and collaboration and to continue to bring itself in line with best business practices in the digital environment and industry. The Government of Ontario collaborated with Microsoft for over a year to test the feasibility of expanding a chosen set of IT services to a private cloud built on Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V technology and Microsoft System Center data centre solutions—including Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager, Windows 7, and Microsoft Office 2010—demonstrating how the Ontario Public Service could immediately use the technology and identifying other future opportunities.

Situation
Employing 67,000 people across more than 25 ministries and hundreds of affiliated agencies, the Government of Ontario has been refining a digital strategy as a key priority for well over a decade.

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* Cloud computing is the way of the future. This partnership was a first successful step in the direction toward a better way of using and delivering online services. *

David Nicholl
Corporate Chief Information and Information Technology Officer, Government of Ontario

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Specifically, the province has been undertaking a number of initiatives in recent years to improve its information technology (IT) structure and the province’s overall technology environment, including the recent move to replace an aging data centre and funding to expand broadband Internet access across rural Ontario.

As more Canadians turn to the Internet as a way to interact with people and services, IT has become essential in supporting the government’s daily operations and in enabling business transformation.

Although IT infrastructure is managed in a consolidated way, each of Ontario’s governmental departments manages its own information, resulting in duplication and sometimes fragmentation in systems that don’t always integrate. As a result, collaboration and upgrades can be time-consuming and more difficult.

With an eye to the future, the province suggested the concept of cloud computing as a way to solve some of these problems.

Solution
The Office of the Corporate Chief Information Officer (OCCIO)—which provides leadership for the Ontario Government’s IT needs, including implementation for common infrastructure, identification of new technology solutions, and delivery of cost-effective services—spearheads Ontario’s ongoing efforts to become a digital leader in the public sector. Essentially tasked with leading the province’s transformation to electronic government (e-government), the OCCIO works on projects with timelines as long as five years.

“We really are a forward-looking organization,” says David Nicholl, Ontario’s Corporate Chief Information and Information Technology Officer. “There’s no doubt that technological advancement will be a key characteristic of future economic growth and innovation, and Ontario is continuously looking at ways we can better communicate online with each other, with businesses, and with citizens.”

The Ontario Public Service (OPS) has been exploring a cloud-based strategy since 2009 and decided to partner with Microsoft, which it saw as the forerunner in the cloud computing world. “Microsoft is an important partner of ours,” says Nicholl. “They have a history of innovation in the field, and as issues arose during the project, Microsoft was always there to drive it forward.”

Over the next year, the Government of Ontario and Microsoft collaborated to test the feasibility of expanding some IT services to a private cloud built on Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V technology and Microsoft System Center data centre solutions, including Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager, Windows 7, and Microsoft Office 2010.

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* Microsoft is an important partner of ours. They have a history of innovation in the field, and as issues arose during the project, Microsoft was always there to drive it forward. *

David Nicholl
Corporate Chief Information and Information Technology Officer, Government of Ontario

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This proof-of-concept (POC) experiment was delivered in partnership with Microsoft Consulting Services and took place in eight phases, with different applications being tested as the project progressed. The goal was to demonstrate how the OPS could immediately take advantage of private cloud computing internally while also considering potential applications for the future.

Benefits
Testing of the private cloud POC proved very successful, with Ontario recording “significant” improvements in efficiency, utilization of shared services, and scalability as new tasks and projects arose.

The result was a substantial improvement in project delivery time and increased ability to provide stronger, faster, and cheaper IT services. Overall, the IT experience was notably more streamlined, setting the stage for future growth as the need arises.

Microsoft and the OCCIO both agree that the OPS needs to move on to further testing in order to capitalize on the wave of momentum stemming from the project, perhaps with as many as 8,000 employees. But the feasibility study has already put Ontario on the global map in terms of IT leadership in the public sector; similar projects are currently underway in Germany and Denmark.

“Cloud computing is the way of the future,” says Nicholl. “We want a seamless e-government system, where citizens and business are offered a one-window approach across all of our ministries. This partnership was a first successful step in the direction toward a better way of using and delivering online services.”

In addition to shared email and documents and simultaneous roll-out of upgrades, the OCCIO also suggests that a private cloud will have a number of potential practical applications.

For example, when large-scale events, like the provincial election, take place, a private cloud powered by Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V technology and System Center solutions could be scaled out quickly and efficiently—to enable immediate access to cost-effective computing resources, which could support high-volume transactions. The OCCIO delivers over 200 IT projects annually that are dependent on IT infrastructure. These key projects could also be fast-tracked by using the elasticity and automation of the cloud to deal with increased demand and aggressive project timelines.

The broader public sector could also benefit from an OPS private cloud by being able to access and manage common shared services like email and collaboration tools. This would allow greater efficiencies in IT infrastructure investments, helping to drive down the cost of shared services.

Additionally, the OPS–Microsoft partnership permits the public sector to define the cloud on its terms, allowing the OPS to maintain the security and privacy of its information assets while benefiting from improved availability and resilience.

Further, the Government of Ontario and Microsoft see the long-term opportunities for the private cloud as allowing for the modernization of IT infrastructure; enhancement of shared services across ministries, agencies, and the broader public sector; and a general alignment with industry best practices to continue to keep Ontario at the forefront of the digital world.

“This was a unique opportunity for the Ontario government to partner with Microsoft in the name of innovation,” says Nicholl. “The fact that Ontario has actually helped to drive the shape of this project ensures cloud computing can be an important part of business transformation for the OPS going forward.”

Microsoft Government
Microsoft applications, solutions, and services help to empower public servants and government employees to share critical information and serve their constituents more efficiently.

For more information about Microsoft Government, please go to:
www.microsoft.com/industry/government
www.microsoft.com/industry/government/federal
www.microsoft.com/industry/government/state

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about the Government of Ontario, visit the website at:
www.ontario.ca

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 67000 employees

Organization Profile

The Government of Ontario employs 67,000 people across more than 25 ministries and hundreds of affiliated agencies through the Ontario Public Service (OPS).


Business Situation

As Ontario sought to modernize its aging infrastructure, its government wanted to test the feasibility of setting up a private cloud.


Solution

The Government of Ontario collaborated with Microsoft to test the feasibility of expanding a chosen set of IT services to a private cloud, built on Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V technology and Microsoft System Center data centre solutions.


Benefits

  • Updated IT infrastructure and aligned with introduction of new data centre
  • Architected services to share underlying infrastructure resources without losing privacy and security
  • Brought agencies onboard in a cost-effective manner
  • Aligned with industry best practices to keep Ontario at the forefront of the digital world


Software and Services
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager
  • Microsoft Sharepoint Server
  • Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager
  • Microsoft Services
  • Microsoft Consulting Services
  • BMC - Business Intelligence
  • Business Productivity - Collaboration
  • Business Productivity - Messaging
  • Business Productivity - Voice
  • Client Solutions - Flexible Workstyle
  • Datacenter

Vertical Industries
Government

Country/Region
Canada

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Microsoft Services

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