Isle of Man moves public services to hybrid cloud

The Isle of Man Government has reduced its operating costs by 15 per cent after virtualising applications and implementing cloud infrastructure from EMC.

The move is part of the government’s plan to provide its 9,000 staff with access to more than 1,000 applications, including email, financial accounting, customer relationship management (CRM) and health administration services, more efficiently and reliably.

It implemented EMC’s VPLEX virtual storage platform and unified storage with solid-state flash drives.

Peter Clarke, chief technology officer at the Isle of Man Government, said: “Our analysis indicated that VPLEX would reduce operating costs by 15 per cent. We wrote our business plan around this. It was a compelling argument.”

He added: “By virtualising our entire server platform and all service applications, the Isle of Man Government has significantly increased service levels as well as data flexibility and availability.”

EMC’s system includes Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) technology, which automatically analyses system usage patterns to help improve operational efficiency and enables users faster access to applications by moving in-demand applications and data automatically to flash drives, then back onto disk arrays as demand falls.

In the health service, for example, Clarke said that individual patient records are now aggregated and that information is instantly available to all authorized users, including doctors, ambulance technicians, nurses and surgeons.

Furthermore, the more efficient utilization of the storage system means that the disk pool will now only need to be upgraded when it reaches 80 per cent capacity, instead of at 60 per cent.

The cloud infrastructure will also improve the Isle of Man’s disaster recovery processes.

“We have three data centres and are looking to have four clouds. One of the clouds will be responsible for monitoring, to make sure the other servers are working,” said Clarke.

“We can move all applications in 30 minutes to another cloud. We’ve had two emergencies in the past 10 years, and it took eight hours to shift [applications over] and 24 hours to go back to normal,” he added.

The Isle of Man’s private cloud technology adds to public cloud services it already uses. For example, all of the local government’s emails are received clean because a cloud service provider, who Clarke did not want to name, takes out all the spam before it is delivered to inboxes. Around 90 per cent of incoming email is spam, he said, which equates to millions of emails.

As part of a five-year transformation project, the Isle of Man is virtualizing all the way from the desktops to the servers. It runs HP and Unisys enterprise servers in its three data centres.

This year, it completed the desktop virtualization, with all desktops running on Microsoft Windows 7 and applications delivered through Microsoft’s virtual platform App-V. It has 5,000 desktops, and around 2,000 personal devices, and applications can be delivered to all of these on any platform.

Next year, the government plans to virtualize the network, which is a single, homogenous network from Cisco that has departments segregated by security.

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