Yarra Valley Water moves apps to private cloud

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Yarra Valley Water moves apps to private cloud
Yarra Valley Water CIO Leigh Berrell.

Simplifies management after in-sourcing IT.

Yarra Valley Water is moving applications from ageing Sun Microsystems boxes to an Oracle private cloud to simplify management after ending its deal with long-term outsourcer Fujitsu last year.

The Victorian Government-owned utility provides water supply and sewerage services to more than 1.7 million people and 50,000 businesses in Melbourne.

It more than doubled its internal IT headcount in the nine months to July 2012 under an insourcing project led by chief information officer Leigh Berrell.

Since May, the utility has also been working to establish a private cloud environment in its two data centres — one at its Mitcham, Victoria campus and the other in Fujitsu's Noble Park facility.

Berrell told iTnews this week that it had moved seven of an unspecified number of applications to the private cloud to date, with "lots to go".

Yarra Valley Water's private cloud comprises a 16TB Oracle Exalogic elastic cloud and 200TB Exadata database machine in each of its data centres, with the machines within each facility connected via gigabit link, and data replicated across the two facilities.

Berrell said the private cloud model gave Yarra Valley Water a "pool of capability" and allowed it to clone its production environments for development and testing more efficiently.

“All of those things were sitting on different machines, Sun M-series and T-series boxes,” he explained. “There [are] certain databases associated with certain boxes.”

“So when we wanted to clone an environment and run up another reasonably quickly, like within a day, it becomes a bit bothersome, and if you’ve committed resources to applications and don’t have spare overhead sitting around, it’s difficult to spin up another environment.

“We need the ability to flush up environments quickly on either side. We’ve got a number of programs under work at any one time.

“What [the private cloud model has] done is give us a lot more agility than we used to to have. We’re quicker and better at responding to our business needs and internal needs, and for me that’s what the private cloud is all about."

Although other organisations have combined infrastructure migration projects with moves to rationalise applications, Berrell said Yarra Valley Water would deal with its applications when convenient.

“We are moving [applications] when it's convenient — when they are undergoing upgrades, their hardware comes to end-of-life, or there is some other reason to shift them – rather than trying to move them in a hurry,” he told iTnews.

“It could take quite a while to finish, based on this approach. We are not using this as a rationalisation exercise – we rationalise based on business need rather than being driven by IT.”

Berrell noted that the new infrastructure also improved system performance, slashing overnight batch processing times from 14 hours to 3 hours and cutting call centre handling times.

“For the 100 or so people in our call centre, their average handling time reduced 20 seconds per phone call,” he said. “We didn’t change code or speed or anything up other than just put it on new boxes. They were 20 seconds quicker on the call not having to wait for system lag.

“We don’t have a night shift anymore, and [the improved infrastructure] gives us the capacity to make changes late at night. We can finish off the batch process and implement change; the only time we could do that previously was on the weekend.”

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