Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI)
Despite budgetary constraints, an Irish public sector authority has demonstrated how a complete suite of Microsoft products can help organisations do more with less and support a growing business.
Company: Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI)
Industry: Public sector
Environmental concerns that have driven a global appetite for greener economies have gone through a period of sustained growth that shows no signs of abating. Though demand for its services have increased, SEAI has had to operate within the constraints of the public sector; where there is pressure to control costs and keep operations in-house.
Set up by the government in 2002 as the country’s national energy authority, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has played a leading role in making Irish society more reliant on sustainable energy structures, technologies and practices.
Environmental concerns that have driven a global appetite for greener economies have gone through a period of sustained growth that shows no signs of abating. Though demand for its services have increased, SEAI has had to operate within the constraints of the public sector where there is pressure to control costs and keep operations in-house. For IT Manager, Aidan Keogh, the challenge was to serve the needs of up to 80 users across multiple sites, facilitating greater productivity with limits on resources.
Steps had already been taken to improve business processes with the planned roll out of a new financial system, and the first tentative moves had been made to consolidate the infrastructure with some early virtualisation projects. However additional progressions were required if SEAI were going to rise to the challenge.
SEAI turned to Codec-dss, a Microsoft Gold Partner, who immediately set to work with an audit of the existing environment. The primary goal was to implement a world-class network architecture, to include redundancy and failover at the same time as ensuring that existing enterprise license agreements were maximised and old investments reused where possible.
John Murphy, Codec-dss Account Manager, sat down with Aidan Keogh and provided input into the Authority’s IT strategy. SEAI settled on a standardised Microsoft environment that would give them more for their money.
Codec-dss worked with them to ensure they were getting maximum value from their existing enterprise license agreements and took them on a virtualisation path that was very affordable. The cornerstone of the strategy was the deployment of Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V. SEAI had been an early adopter of Microsoft’s first iteration of virtualisation; but Hyper-V offered features and functionality that allowed SEAI and Codec-dss to take it much further; making the organisation more resilient and agile.
Because SEAI had already embarked on a virtualisation strategy, the consolidation gains in terms of reducing the number of physical servers was relatively modest - from seven down to a Hyper-V cluster of three; plus an additional two for back-up and replication. But the operational benets have been substantial.
In a tough economic climate, SEAI has managed to make its IT budget go further with Microsoft and extend the IT capability of the organisation.
- The suite of software offers rich features at minimal extra cost, allowing SEAI to maximise its enterprise license agreements. By standardising on Microsoft products, SEAI was able to sweat existing assets; integrating the old with a new set of solutions that have provided SEAI with a scalable platform for future growth.
- Virtualisation was key to this strategy, providing a flexible platform for rolling out new applications and services, using virtual rather than physical machines.
A combination of Hyper-V and System Center tools have been core to the success of this project, allowing SEAI to achieve its gaols while staying true to its sustainable energy principles. The green IT element of the project shows that the SEAI is leading by example 'We’re already doing more but still occupy the same rack in the data centre. We’re not paying for more space or consuming more power but we are managing to grow IT services to meet the business needs', Aidan Keogh, SEAI.
“We had already undergone some improvements in our business processes, and had even tried virtualisation but more needed to be done. We had to look at what we had, and implement a flexible, scalable architecture to facilitate expansion with energy efficiency in mind.”
Aidan Keogh, IT Manager, SEAI