A leading environmental organisation has slashed IT administration costs and boosted IT service levels with a cloud delivery strategy for its Microsoft applications and server infrastructure.
One of the country’s largest private providers of operations and maintenance solutions for water infrastructure has chosen MJ Flood Technology to assist in its migration to a cloud delivery strategy for its Microsoft business applications and virtualisation of its server infrastructure. Celtic Anglian Water’s 96 users now access a hosted version of Microsoft Exchange as their main email application while IT staff have slashed administration time and their carbon footprint thanks to virtualisation of the server infrastructure.
With offices in six locations in Ireland, serving customers across Ireland and in the UK, information technology is a mission-critical function for Celtic Anglian Water. “We are a progressive organisation,” explains Ciaran Callan, IT manager with CAW. “We are continually looking at ways of engineering our business operations as carbon neutral and the IT function is no different. An infrastructure refresh presented us with an opportunity to choose an approach that would meet that objective,” he adds.
Onsite versus offsite Microsoft Exchange
The first challenge presented to staff at MJ Flood Technology centred on the deployment of reliable and scalable email management. “Our previous Exchange deployment was creaking at the seams and was nearing its data store limit of 75GB,” explains Callan. “I was easily spending up to half a day per week troubleshooting email issues. Opting for a hosted solution essentially removes the infrastructure we were responsible for and passes it to a third party and with it parameters of reliability and application uptime."
Opting for Microsoft 365 and hosted Exchange delivers a number of tangible business benefits to CAW, as Guido Marchetti, senior account manager with MJ Flood Technology, explains. “Microsoft 365 brings an ‘evergreen’ dynamic to the email infrastructure in that CAW will always be working on the latest version of Exchange. The architecture is manageable and with the option of also using SharePoint, Office Communications Server and Office Live Meeting, it delivers a serious amount of technology for a low price point per user.”
Building a more resilient infrastructure
Adopting a cloud-based strategy has also extended to the company’s server infrastructure and CAW took the decision to virtualise, based on Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology platform and HP hardware. The HP DL380 servers are specified to run all applications on a single node with automatic failover. This introduces a new level of resiliency to CAW’s mission-critical infrastructure.
With Hyper-V, the company has cut the active number of servers from eight to six, which reduces power consumption and energy costs. “We used to have a full rack in our comms room,” explains Callan. “Now we just need half a rack, which reduces space requirements quite considerably. In addition, virtual servers can be configured in a short space of time and new applications can be added to the network quickly and easily.”
The HP hardware bundle also incorporates a disk array for data storage. “We have about 120GB of production data,” explains Callan. “The deployment of the storage area network (SAN) gives us total peace of mind that our mission-critical data is secure and can be retrieved at will.”
Exploiting the power of remote desktop
With all applications centralised at the Santry premises in Dublin, users had previously accessed them via thin client. This access method had proved unreliable with lots of latency and poor application response times for remote users. “We introduced Windows 7 to the desktop and Windows Server 2008 to the mix,” explains Marchetti. “This allows users to tap into Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) feature to access critical line of business applications, such as Sage at the central site. RDP delivers high performance, reliability and predictability to application delivery and allowed CAW to retire two servers which had previously been running the thin client application.”
“Our new infrastructure significantly reduces IT administration time and delivers reliable and responsive computing services to all of our staff,” according to Callan. “The other modules in Microsoft 365 give us a platform to build on and, for example, the future deployment of Office Live Meeting will further cut operational costs and boost staff productivity.”
At a Glance
Company: Celtic Anglian Water
Customer profile: Established in 1998, Celtic Anglian Water is the largest private provider of operations and maintenance solutions for water infrastructure in Ireland. Its staff operates and maintains the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant for Dublin City Council, which is amongst the largest and most advanced waste water treatment plants in Europe. CAW also operates drinking water and waste water treatment facilities for other towns and cities around the country, including Sligo and Waterford.
Business challenge: To provide a more reliable and more robust information technology infrastructure to the company’s employees at head office and at other sites around the country.
- Migration of CAW’s Exchange infrastructure to Microsoft Online Services, ie, Microsoft 365 incorporating Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Office Communications Server and Office Live Meeting.
- Migration to Windows Server 2008 with Windows 7 and Office 2010 to the desktop.
- Configuration of Remote Desktop Protocol to facilitate remote access to mission-critical line of business applications.
- Virtualisation of server infrastructure with HyperV and deployment of Storage Area Network based on HP technology.
- Significant reduction in IT administration time.
- More reliability, resiliency and robustness built into the IT architecture.
- Reduction in the company’s carbon footprint and energy costs by slashing server power consumption.
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