Logicalis High Density Data Centre helps Lewisham cut costs and carbon footprint.
The London Borough of Lewisham covers an area of roughly 14 square miles to the south east of the capital. Its Council provides a range of high quality services for some 250,000 people who live, work and learn within the Borough. It has an estimated 3,500 office users spread across 120 locations over an area four miles wide and eight miles long.
The 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review highlighted areas across local government where budgets are to be reduced and efficiencies achieved. Meanwhile, UK Treasury projections forecast that departmental spending will fall by 2.9% each year until 2014, over and above the efficiencies already being delivered. Like other local authorities, the London Borough of Lewisham therefore faces continual pressure to save costs, increase its flexibility, and do more with less.
As in other Public Sector organisations, the Borough is also mandated to meet CO² emission targets as part of its Carbon Reduction Commitment. In its drive to improve the efficiency of its business processes and continue developing affordable services to citizens, Lewisham therefore expects a tangible return on any ICT investment, plus a reduction in its carbon footprint wherever possible.
“Our managed contract - including provision of a data centre resource - was due for renewal,” says Corporate Technology Manager, Roger Fowles. “By chance, our neighbours Bromley Council were looking to retender their ICT managed contract around the same time. The only difference between our requirements was that Bromley housed its servers in its own data centre, whereas ours were hosted by our existing outsource partner.
“We therefore saw this as an opportunity to take advantage of similarities in our technical infrastructures and contract requirements by issuing a joint Invitation to Tender (ITT) for primary services (such as desktop support), and voice and data network support, whilst we separately issued an ITT for hosted data centre services.
In what was a first for London, the two Councils subsequently awarded contracts for support of their respective ICT systems to the same provider. Whilst the two organisations have separate contracts, they now share a common specification and performance regime, resulting in a standard set of requirements for primary services and network support; plus economies of scale for the provider resulting in significant savings for both Authorities.
Previously, data centre provision had been included in the Primary Services contract, but Fowles decided Lewisham was likely to achieve even greater value for money by going out to tender separately for future data centre provision. Three contenders were shortlisted for this element of Lewisham’s managed service, but based on the Council’s main selection criteria of cost and range of available services, the Logicalis proposal was found to be the most compelling.
“Our tour of their High Density Data Centre (HDDC) was a huge contributing factor in awarding Logicalis the contract to host our server population,” says Fowles. “Given that one of our objectives - and indeed a big part of our service level agreements with suppliers - is to achieve our ‘green’ targets, we felt that Logicalis was best placed to help us, in terms of the way they proposed to manage our server racks, security and access to our servers, air conditioning and so forth.”
Logicalis’ state-of-the-art Tier 3+ 2N HDDC offers customers like Lewisham the flexibility to move the day-to-day hosting and management of their servers, storage, virtualisation technologies and key business applications to a highly skilled and dedicated managed service team. The data centre provides a made-to-measure capability supporting rack densities from 4 to 32kw anywhere in the space, allowing all systems to be kept together and thereby lowering hosting and integration costs dramatically.
Logicalis’ average annual power usage effectiveness (PUE) at full load - a metric used to determine energy efficiency - of less than 1.45 makes its data centre one of the best available, plus its free air cooling system means that equipment inside the building is cooled by the air outside for around 60% of the year. This reduces Logicalis’ use of energy for cooling and lowers its costs too.
Supported by an abundant power source, the centre’s 2N power design feeds two separate data halls and is designed to support the very latest high density, hyper-virtualised computing, storage and networking technologies, thereby delivering maximum flexibility, power and environmental efficiency. And since Logicalis is a leading partner of CA Technologies, Cisco, HP, IBM, NetApp, VMware and others, it can also help customers design and build new systems from scratch or virtualise and rationalise existing systems to minimise space, energy and management costs.
Fowles says he and his team were equally impressed by the calibre of the proposed Logicalis support team. “In delivering a reliable service to the public, the importance of our servers and the critical applications they run cannot be over-estimated,” he says. “We immediately felt that Logicalis understood our business - particularly as they have contracts with other London councils, and manage ICT services on behalf of the Welsh Government’s Public Sector Broadband Aggregation (PSBA) programme. We also felt there would be other areas of our infrastructure that they might be in a position to help us with in the future.”
Lewisham’s servers needed to be relocated in a very short space of time from their existing data centre to Logicalis’ purpose-built facility in Slough. “Uprooting more than 200 servers in Docklands and moving them to Slough over the course of a weekend was no mean feat,” he says. “We had no option but to close down the Council’s IT systems for two days, which was potentially full of risks as servers are never too keen on being piled onto lorries and shipped between sites. Throughout this exercise, however, the joint effort between the teams was nothing short of phenomenal. Everyone worked really long hours to sort out problems and we couldn’t have asked for more.”
Fowles says the ground-breaking deal for the provision of ICT services shows the extent to which Lewisham is prepared to work across borough and party political boundaries to get the best deal for its residents. Under the combined contract arrangements with Bromley, Lewisham expects the agreement to provide it with annual savings of £1.5m, representing a 40% reduction in its IT and telephony budget. Of this, Fowles says Lewisham attributes savings of £250,000 to its new data centre arrangement with Logicalis - far more than it would have achieved if this element of the service had been left within the Primary Services contract.
Fowles envisages working with Logicalis over and above the data centre agreement to streamline other areas of Lewisham’s ICT infrastructure. For instance, his team is planning to work on the ongoing process of virtualising the Council’s server estate and to explore moving relevant applications to the Cloud in order to reduce its physical server population and achieve even more efficient racking.
“The Logicalis data centre service is helping reduce our costs by providing us with more efficient power consumption, consolidation through high density racks, and more effective server management,” says Fowles. “It will also help us rationalise our existing server estate whilst minimising our carbon footprint. “We’ve currently got three full racks of servers we’d like to eliminate using virtualisation technology and we’re already working with Logicalis to make additional savings on rack storage costs. We’re keen not to lose the momentum built up thus far, so our enterprise architect will be exploring other opportunities to involve Logicalis in improving our server infrastructure.
“Collaboration will save us money, improve our efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint, and a stable and cost effective ICT environment will help us to continue to improve our services to the residents of Lewisham,” he says. “The Logicalis HDDC service has certainly enabled us to achieve greater flexibility for the future and moved us to a much higher standard in data centre hosting,” he concludes.