In a bid to improve its capability for effective service delivery, the Breede River Municipality has awarded the contract for server consolidation and the establishment of a disaster recovery site to Cape Town-based Xepa Consulting.
The project will result in better protection of critical data and reduction in administrative overhead, physical space required and power consumption, contributing to a lower cost of ownership for technology infrastructure.
“With capacity an ever present challenge for municipalities and the constitutional imperative to deliver services effectively to citizens an ever-present reality, smart local government authorities are seeking out partnerships which deliver improved management of specialized functions,” says Garth Francis, MD of Xepa Consulting.
He says the relationship with the municipality kicked off when his company won a contract to supply VMWare software in 2008. “With the changing of IT staff at the municipality, the municipality found itself with this software but unable to use it. It was at this junction that decision-makers realised that to get the best value from their IT systems, it was best to outsource the management and support to a specialist service provider.”
In addition, Francis points out that recent floods in the Breede River area have highlighted the necessity for better data protection measures. “The IT infrastructure powers municipal billing systems, provides support for the ERP systems which manage resources and retains the information and records of ratepayers and citizens in the area. As a result, protection of this information as well as the provision of suitable business continuity measures should any event occur, is of considerable importance,” he notes.
As a result, he says, Xepa has taken charge of the environment and is in the process of deploying a server consolidation and disaster recovery management project. “There are two phases to the project, the first of which is to consolidate the servers and the second to create a mirrored disaster recovery site in which all systems and data are replicated.”
The disaster recovery site is located several kilometres away from the production site. “Activity at the production site includes the implementation of a storage area network based on EMC equipment, and the deployment of VMWare ESX software on two HP servers. Combined with the VMware software, the HP machines replaces the eight to 12 separate machines which were formerly supporting the municipality’s applications,” says Francis.
The disaster recovery site is to be connected by a fibre optic link and is a mirror of the production site.
“As a result of this project, the administrative overload is reduced considerably, while the floor space and energy consumption to power the IT department is substantially diminished,” Francis says. “The municipality is also looking forward to improvements in performance and reliability from the IT infrastructure and the applications it supports.”
He believes that the contract allows the municipality to focus on service delivery without being hindered by onerous technology problems.
“IT systems power many essential aspects of municipal operations, including billing, revenue collection and the delivery of services such as water, power, emergency services and more. A reliable IT system is therefore a key element in municipal performance and by putting that in the hands of a specialist, municipalities can focus on what they do best,” says Francis.