The Isle of Man Government wanted to save money and boost services by moving its infrastructure—including 1,000 applications—to a hybrid cloud environment. It opted for the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with Hyper-V technology and the
Microsoft System Center suite to improve manageability. This has increased system performance eight-fold, boosted storage utilisation by 40 per cent with no extra hardware, and reduced operating costs by 15 per cent.
The Isle of Man economy combines traditional industries such as agriculture, fishing, and tourism with areas of growth, including financial services, shipping, and e-commerce. In the current economic climate, the government’s target is to cut costs by around
20 per cent. This includes the information services division’s five-year replacement cycle for its hardware and infrastructure.
The Isle of Man Government Chief Technology Officer Peter Clarke is a champion of cloud-based computing in government. He has moved the entire public services infrastructure—email, finance, treasury, health, and education—to a hybrid cloud service, shifting
more than 1,000 applications into the new environment. These applications cover the entire spectrum of government, including the ambulance and fire services, taxation, planning, utilities, estate management, housing, and social services.
He says: “We moved to the cloud because we saw the potential to work better, faster, and more cost effectively. It’s about speed and cost—how quickly you can deploy and repair—and the quality of service. The cloud ticks all these boxes, increasing service
levels, data flexibility, and availability.”
The information services division provides a shared service to all government departments. The move to the cloud, with a combination of public and private cloud services began in 2005 with a server consolidation exercise, followed by 100 per cent virtualisation
in 2010. Auditing revealed that some physical servers were running at as little as 10 per cent of capacity. And, with 400 to 500 servers, this meant significant savings.
The public cloud hosts security and email filtering, along with public-facing elements of the back office. The private cloud services involve clouds for data such as medical and education records, registries and civil infrastructure, performance monitoring,
and recovery. Three of the four data centres operate with virtualised applications. The fourth is a recovery data centre that can be used to restore information immediately.
The Isle of Man Government reviewed several options for server virtualisation to support the move to the cloud. It opted for Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V because it was cost effective and performed well in an infrastructure based largely on Microsoft
To ensure system performance monitoring was automated, the government decided to use the full Microsoft System Center suite of products, which interoperates easily with Hyper-V. Clarke says: “Microsoft provided the most cost-effective solution for us. Plus,
the next version of Hyper-V—Hyper-V vNext—will deliver even more business value.”
Among the System Center technologies in use at the Isle of Man Government are Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 for centralised management and Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 for tapeless recovery.
A significant feature is a platform combining third-party virtual storage, which makes it possible to federate information across multiple data centres and access it from anywhere. This has helped the IT team respond more flexibly when demand for infrastructure
increases. Other elements of the system include Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software and Windows 7. Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint 2010 have been virtualised, and there is a multilayered defence system with round-the-clock
monitoring through the cloud.
Provisioning the servers took around five months. The more time-consuming task was to schedule the changeover for more than 1,000 applications to the cloud, which took 12 months. Most services didn’t experience more than two hours of downtime during the
migration. In addition, Clarke was able to complete upgrades for some users at the same time.
The cloud-based infrastructure has increased data availability and system performance by a factor of eight, boosted storage utilisation by around 40 per cent with no extra hardware, and reduced operating costs by 15 per cent.
Early transition to the cloud. All of the applications serving staff have been moved to the cloud. Clarke says: “Our boost in performance speaks for itself—an eight-fold improvement in data availability, 40 per cent more storage resources
with no extra hardware needed, and a reduction of 15 per cent in operating costs.”
Unit costs cut by 40 per cent. The migration to the cloud has eased the pressure on the government’s budget. Use is on a pay-as-you-go financial model with no upfront investment costs. It has also been possible to cut unit costs per user
of the IT estate by 40 per cent. Clarke says: “We’re saving £250,000 (U.S.$392,000) a year and compared to the previous upgrade of data centres in 2005, which cost £2 million, we spent less than £300,000.”
Enhanced customer services. Through server virtualisation, the government has increased service levels and data availability for citizens and businesses. In health, patient records are now aggregated and information is made immediately available
Less unwanted email. A hosted email cleansing service rids incoming traffic of spam. As a result, the government has cut the amount of unwanted email entering the data network by around 95 per cent.
Focus on higher-value work. Through the Microsoft System Center suite and server virtualisation, the Isle of Man Government has automated system performance monitoring, ensuring IT staff spend more time
on proactive, high-value work.
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