Salford City Council is one of 10 metropolitan district councils within Greater Manchester in the northwest of England. Covering an area of 9957 hectares and with a population of 230,000, Salford includes inner city, residential, and rural areas.
The Council is an eager adopter of new technology and is keen to put its technological expertise at the service of employees and citizens. It was one of the first government organizations in Europe to use Cisco voice over IP (VoIP) technology on a large scale, creating the continent’s biggest public sector VoIP deployment in 2003.
Salford has highly advanced data facilities by public sector standards. However, capacity constraints were beginning to appear. “We put a lot of virtual servers in there,” says Jonathan Burt, corporate infrastructure architect at Salford City Council, “with 32 hosts on top of one storage array, effectively forming a single point of failure.
A lot of network cables ran from the individual servers, each of which had four network, two fibre channel, and two power connections. That was a lot of infrastructure to support and manage. Also, we had multiple back-up platforms with different arrays, so it was a very complex design indeed.”
A 12:1 consolidation ratio, going from almost 400 physical servers down to 32 hosts, had been accomplished. This was a major achievement, but the infrastructure’s power, cooling, cabling, and switch port requirements were still considerable.
Also, employees were consuming IT in new and different ways. Increasingly, devolved Council departments and subsidiaries were deploying their own IT equipment and operating independently.
As well as duplicating effort, this fragmentation led to security and compliance problems. In response, the Council wanted to offer IT services in a more controlled and cost effective way, both internally and for other organizations in Greater Manchester. Salford would need to stop thinking about building a private cloud for its own users and instead move to a multitenant community cloud model.
We believe session virtualization is the biggest enabler of what we want to do moving forward. You can achieve far greater economies of scale with this approach. We’re hoping to drive energy costs down even further. We’ve gone from 32 hosts controlling 400 VMs down to 10 Cisco UCS blades that run the entire environment. We’re on track to achieve a 40-to-one consolidation ratio with potential scope to go up to 50-to-one. Jonathan Burt, Corporate Infrastructure Architect, Salford City Council
With the UCS and Nexus integration in FlexPod, the Council is able to use 10Gbps Ethernet Cisco Unified Fabric (including Fibre Channel over Ethernet and Data Center Bridging) and Fabric Extender Technology. These technologies reduced cabling, network interface cards, access and aggregation network layer switch port requirements, and power consumption while also allowing for future scalability which adheres to data center fabric design best practices.