Municipal services are something that supports us throughout our lives. From being born, baptized and going to school, until we get a tax card, pension and the like. That is what ensures a well-oiled and functioning society.
For municipal businesses to be even more pain-free, digital services are needed that are flexible, secure, scalable and integrated. The Norwegian public sector is good at exploiting new technological opportunities to create holistic and effective solutions - but there is always the potential to innovate further.
All in one box
One technology that is increasingly in focus is hyper-converged infrastructure. In short, this means that the entire data center is gathered in one box. Such a device combines data processing, storage and networking technology, while making it easy to take advantage of the most advanced and innovative virtualization features.
- Traditional solution is three-tiered infrastructure with server, storage and network as three separate technologies to talk together. In a hyper-converged infrastructure, these three are merged into one layer, so that there is one resource that can manage the entire server resource,
Roar Stenbro, Sales Manager i Braathe Gruppen.
It simplifies the way of operating it so that you do not have to rely on a network consultant, a storage consultant and a server consultant who needs to arrange within their area, so that everything can be done more efficiently within one solution in one layer.
There are several obvious benefits of hyper-converged infrastructure. It is quickly rolled out as a single, fully integrated, fully configured and proven solution. VxRail from Dell Technologies and VMware take an average of 20 minutes to set up. When the need arises later, it only takes five minutes to scale. The boxes feature the most modern Intel processors and smart networking technology. Hyper-converged infrastructure also simplifies IT operations, and diagnosing and addressing issues quickly before the business is hit by downtime.
- A VxRail node is at 2U and contains server, network and storage. For Porsgrunn municipality, where we delivered six nodes, they have a rack where the whole solution only occupies 12U. When you compare it to a full-rack of 42U, it also becomes clear how space-saving hyper-converged solutions are, says Stenbro.
Safe and affordable in operation
Not everything can be moved to the cloud - at least not yet correctly - and for public companies that are subject to strict privacy requirements, a hyper-converged solution is particularly well suited.
- It also provides public companies with a smooth platform to meet the future demands of IT solutions, which are within today's demands for investment and resource use,
Data protection is also integrated into hyper-converged infrastructure. Both backup and restore ensure continuous availability and virtually zero downtime. In the event of an accident, smart functionality ensures simple and effective crisis recovery of virtual machines and systems. Hyperconverged is also cheaper to acquire and operate than custom built solutions, and easy to scale in either direction.
- This is a modernized infrastructure that meets the needs of the future. Providing expertise in the three areas that the traditional three-tier solution requires can be challenging. Hyperconverged releases you from that need for specialized expertise. Then you can spend more time on service development for users and streamline IT solutions, rather than delving into each of the three areas of expertise, says Stenbro.
Good experience from Porsgrunn municipality
Porsgrunn municipality recently invested in hyper-converged infrastructure and moved its entire data center to the solution. That is, all physical and virtual servers are now assembled in one box. The 14 employees in the ICT department can thus spend more time on strategic service development, and less on technical looting and sticking.
- We were fascinated by the idea of great performance and much easier administration. We are in dire need of more scalability, and it was comfortable to be able to get one point of contact for the entire data center, says ICT chief in Porsgrunn municipality, Terje Odden.
The infrastructure was modernized with a six-node hyper-converged solution from Dell Technologies and VMware. This compact platform replaces the classic data room layout with interconnected servers, storage and networking technology.
Stenbro says that much of the key to success lies in good planning and good cooperation between all those involved.
- It was a very good collaboration between the municipality, Dell and Braathe Gruppen as a local supplier. Our consultants worked with Dell project staff where we did a lot of mapping ahead of time. Thus, it was very well planned how we should proceed and start the installation of the hardware and the commissioning of the plant.
Braathe Gruppen made sure to migrate the first servers, then the municipality took over and migrated the rest of the 200 servers. From the installation started until the migration was complete, it only took a week, without any downtime.
- We got help moving the first 10-20 percent of the servers. The rest we fixed ourselves. We have freed up a lot of physical space and it is quite empty in the server room. All services are delivered from the hyper-converged machine, says Odden, who points out that the operating model should be attractive to many more.
The savings not only mean more efficiency and freed up physical space, but also less need for new hardware, and a lot of time freed up for administration.
- I know many people are considering hyperconvergence, and I am very happy we made the choice. This relocation project is perhaps the best IT project I have been involved in in my 20-year career. I can hardly boast enough of the quality and follow-up we have received,