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n°18  |  September   2007
Business cases

• European Commission (EC)
• Barnsley (United Kingdom)

• Nottingham City Council (United Kingdom)
• University of Ghent (Belgium)

Nottingham City Council supports better services and reduces carbon footprint with Bull Blade server infrastructure

Server upgrade boosts performance and cuts energy use by at least 40%

Nottingham City Council is set to further improve service delivery to 640,000 local residents while reducing its overall IT infrastructure energy consumption by at least 40 per cent using a high performance blade server infrastructure from Bull. The new, upgraded computing environment, based on Bull NovaScale blade servers, is part of the council’s overall strategy of balancing the growing proportion of local services accessed online with the need to deliver 3% system-based savings in line with the government’s continuing Efficiency Agenda.

The new infrastructure’s reduced energy consumption will provide further momentum for the energy saving measures enacted by the city council under its Climate Protection Strategy launched last year. The carbon reduction elements of the strategy will make all council operations carbon neutral within ten years. It has already made such a contribution to reducing the council’s carbon footprint that it has been officially endorsed by UK energy standards body, the Energy Institute, in May. Nottingham City Council is basing its improvements to local services on a series of key corporate ICT programmes. These include building CRM platforms to provide customer-centric services as well as electronic document management systems to streamline processing of incoming and internal documents. The programmes also feature new GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and replacement of the authority’s existing e-mail system.

Comprising 43 Bull NovaScale blade servers as well as EMC Clarion CX3 storage arrays, the new computing infrastructure will provide faster processing, retrieval and storage capabilities across these ‘back office’ administrative processes that support local services. The server upgrades also pave the way for greater standardisation of computing environments across departmental operations. The blade server technology will deliver energy savings of between 40 and 60% over the previous server infrastructure.

Nottingham City Council specified Bull’s server-based environment as the latest stage in a continuous technology refresh delivered in partnership with Bull. This improvement programme started 7 years ago, as part of a corporate strategy to replace mainframe structure with an independent infrastructure running Unix and Oracle, further enhanced by Citrix 2AD, Active Directory and VMware and actively aided by Bull. The upgrade programme has enabled the council to standardise on AIX, Microsoft Windows 2003 and Oracle applications for major corporate applications. Over the last few years, Bull has provided core infrastructure elements including Unix platforms, disk arrays and tape back up to the council, backed by project consultancy and technical support.

Jas Padam, Head of ICT Infrastructure at Nottingham City Council, said: “As our services move online or are run through contact centres operating 24/7, we are pursuing higher application performance with reduced maintenance – basically, we want more for less. We have used the reduced maintenance inputs to refresh technology and alter the way we work by, for example, putting more people on customer service tasks. We are increasingly shaping our services around the customer.”

Drawing on Intel dual core processors, Bull NovaScale blade servers deliver more processing power in reduced server rack space. This improves performance and reduces the need for additional cabling installations. In addition, the new servers’ imaging capability enables Nottingham’s ICT team to keep an overview of different applications running on the infrastructure and quickly restore them should there be any technical problems.

The IT department’s decision to specify a Bull blade server infrastructure was supported by Bull’s ability to provide technical support during the installation and certify all applications. Bull’s seven year track record working for the council’s IT team - covering work such as Unix® operating system and disk arrays - was also a key factor in the decision. Jas Padam commented: “Bull is a good organisation to work with. They have been very good at responding to our different requirements as the work has progressed.

Jenny Newton, CEO, Bull UK & Ireland, said: “Nottingham City Council has put a great deal of planning into rationalising its infrastructure to accommodate more accessible service delivery and the ongoing Efficiency Agenda. We are providing the platform for the authority to provide increasingly customer centric applications with the added benefit of greatly reduced energy consumption.”

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