As the largest city council in New Zealand with 2000 PC users situated throughout 25 remote sites, Auckland City Council delivers essential services and facilities to the city. The Council wanted to upgrade its existing infrastructure to develop a platform that would support new technologies and their future business requirements.
With the help of Microsoft® Services, the Council has moved from a disparate system that combined a mix of Novell and legacy Microsoft technologies and deployed a scalable Microsoft® platform. This has resulted in decreased operational overheads, a standard operating environment and a robust, secure platform for future growth.
To reduce operating costs and improve efficiencies Auckland City Council needed to adopt standard, secure and scalable operating systems for its server and desktop environment.
||We found that Microsoft Services, coupled with Microsoft technology, could best support the Council’s needs to deploy a secure, flexible platform that was both easy to manage and had the capability to leverage new technologies such as mobility solutions.
Auckland City Council
Partnering with Microsoft Consulting Services for the evaluation and design phase, Auckland City Council successfully upgraded to Microsoft Windows XP and the Microsoft Office System 2003 Edition. The Council implemented Windows Active Directory, Windows File and Print Services and Windows Systems Management Server for application deployment and patching.
Disparate Systems Hinder Growth
The Council’s IT team was challenged to deliver a secure and reliable technology platform. Additionally, the Council was looking at integrating mobile technology to increase staff productivity and improve IT administrative efficiency.
However, as part of their infrastructure improvement programme, the Council’s IT team identified that the platforms in place did not have the flexibility to integrate with new technologies.
Ian Rae, Auckland City Council CIO explains that the computing environment at Auckland City Council contained a mix of Novell and legacy Microsoft technologies.
“The majority of File and Print services resided on NetWare servers, while Microsoft® Exchange in an NT domain provided email services. We also faced the challenge of different departments within the Council using a diverse range of software versions and programs,” says Rae.
“We knew that our IT infrastructure needed to be overhauled but we wanted to ensure that the solution we selected offered the flexibility to meet the long-term needs of the Council.
“We also wanted to utilise and extend the skills of our internal team by bringing in experts from Microsoft to guide the design work.”
The operating systems in place were reaching the end of their vendor-supported life cycle and Auckland City Council established a business objective to migrate to a single directory.
Before committing to any new licensing agreements, the Council took the time to evaluate its options considering both Microsoft and open source software.
“We found that Microsoft Services, coupled with Microsoft technology, could best support the Council’s needs to deploy a secure, flexible platform that was both easy to manage and had the capability to leverage new technologies such as mobility solutions.”
Microsoft Services Add Value
Once the Council had decided on the path forward, the question was how to deploy. They decided to continue utilising the expertise of Microsoft Consulting Services to fast track the design process.
“Engaging Microsoft Consulting was the right step to take. It was apparent that they had the expertise and understanding of our requirements to give us the head-start we needed,” says Rae.
“At all stages we considered whether elements of the project were best suited to internal IT staff, Microsoft consultants, or third party Microsoft partners. We chose to use Microsoft Consulting because of the reduced risk and proven track record. Their expertise was vital in the design phase.”
David Downs, Engagement Manager, Microsoft New Zealand says a project of this scale is carried out by organisations approximately once every five years.
“Microsoft Consulting Services was able to guide Auckland City Council’s IT team through the architectural and systems design stage. Most organisations find it is not cost effective to have the type of specialist skills in-house that Microsoft Consulting Services or our partners offer.
“As with most projects Microsoft Consulting engages on directly, Auckland City Council saw this as a high-risk and high profile project. The Council sought the comfort that comes with working with experts who have done this sort of thing before,” says Downs.
Ian Rae adds that the knowledge his IT team gained from working with Microsoft Consulting Services throughout the design phase allowed them to manage the implementation stage themselves.
“We were confident that the proper planning had been done to ensure a successful deployment.”
Large Scale Deployment
“The objective was to adopt a standard IT environment based on one set of technologies so that the IT team could concentrate their skills in one area of expertise, rather than doubling up on system administrative training costs,” says Rae.
On the client side they upgraded to Microsoft® Windows® XP and Office® 2003.
“We implemented Group Policies as part of the desktop environment to assist in managing security and configuration of the desktop operating system, desktop applications and users.”
“All up, one terabyte of user files were migrated from Novell to the Windows operating system. This involved reproducing all of the user security rights for each file and directory in the new file system,” says Rae.
The Council also transferred from Novell ZENWorks, an application management tool, to Microsoft® Server Management System(SMS) 2003 and implemented Microsoft® Active Directory®, Windows® File and Print Services, and Wises Package Studio for application packaging. SMS was also used to put in place a patch management system for software.
“To manage a project of this size and complete it in a timely fashion, we needed a deployed solution. Microsoft Consulting Services introduced Microsoft’s ZeroTouch deployment mechanism which allows a client to be completely imaged and part of the domain in less than 12 minutes. This is unheard of in terms of deployment efficiency,” says Rae.
Auckland City Council used a staged rollout of Microsoft®ZeroTouch, ensuring all user information was saved in the appropriate places for a smooth transfer to the new system.
Branding Matters: DANE Eases Adoption
With over 2000 users on the Council’s system, managing the transition was an important part of the project for the IT team.
“We needed employees to know why we were upgrading the system and how this change could affect how they use their operating system,” explains Rae.
“To gain staff support we branded the IT project as the Desktop and Network Evolutions, or DANE. This increased awareness of the project and allowed us to develop a communications campaign that was consistent.
“All IT staff involved in the project were provided with DANE shirts so that when they were out on the office floor staff knew that they could ask them questions about the technology change.”
Making the Move to Mobile
Auckland City Council now has the core infrastructure server and desktop systems in place they are ready to begin moving forward with mobile messaging.
“Now that we have a secure scalable platform in place, we can begin educating Council staff on the potential of Microsoft technology, and start truly integrating new technologies and services,” says Rae.
“The efficiencies of our new system mean our IT team can now focus on our business’ strategic growth.”
For More Information
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For more information about Auckland City Council services, call (64) (9) 379 2020 or visit the Web site at: www.aucklandcity.govt.nz
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