Last year we were contacted by the Ministry of Education. The ministry was planning to update their private cloud infrastructure. In this case, one of there reasons the Ministry is there, is to ensure that all educational institutions benefit from technology and digitalization. They do this by supporting the educational institutions in using IT to operate more efficiently, to help teachers and students achieve better education and optimise learning through the use of IT. Therefore, it is very important to keep their cloud infrastructure optimal and up to date.
Generally, the Ministry has four main tasks:
1. Set the direction for digital learning, in order to make sure every student is as proficient as possible.
2. Maintain professional project management that delivers within time and budget.
3. Provide functioning IT-solutions that satisfy the users and make them confident.
4. Bring data and analysis into play to strengthen learning and improve both local and central decision making.
What was the situation?
Because the Ministry was deploying the way that they did, they needed to change their technology every four years in order to keep up with the rapid technological and cloud developments. Of course, it is very important to keep up with rapid development. However, in this case it came with downsides as well, as the costs for these changes were around 2.8 million euros for each change. Furthermore, every four years the renewal of the infrastructure was done by setting up a tender, which meant that every period a different storage and hardware vendor won the tender. This in turn, meant migrating virtual machines, storage and other solutions within the architecture every four years.
Furthermore, the integration and deployment processes of the client were mostly manual, with many human interventions required at every stage. As a result, development and testing was too slow, and deployment speeds affected the team’s ability to deliver new, valuable services.
How we improved
The Ministry contacted us thinking “we should be able to improve on all fronts”, and they were right. We collectively decided to undertake a private cloud based, digital transformation initiative and replace its existing private cloud components with open source cloud solutions. Furthermore, by changing the strategy to an open source cloud strategy, the client was able to not only reduce operational costs drastically but also to reduce support costs, save time and make an end to infrastructure vendor lock-ins.
Another matter of improvement that we helped the client with was through creating a way to ensure continuous development and value delivery. We did this by, actively helping the client to become more agile. It is important to work in an agile way in order to be able to keep up with the best practices and create value through IT in the public sector. With this said, OpenStack cloud technology and Agile methods complement each other perfectly. So, when private cloud technologies enable enterprise agility, they are able to build and expand the OpenStack cloud environment responsively.
And lastly, because of the long term strategy the Ministry wanted to follow, another wish was to move to a better OpEx (operational expenditure).
How did we implement this?
Moving on to the specific case, the Ministry chose a fully managed OpenStack private cloud to change from CapEx (capital expenditure) to OpEx, end vendor lock in, work more agile, release new value continuously, keep full control over their own physical environment and applications in their own datacenter, while minimizing the hassle of managing the infrastructure themselves.
To achieve this, Fairbanks implemented the cloud with the steps that were documented in a personalized offer. During the first few days, we conducted some work onsite with the client. We chose to be onsite the first few days, so that we could get to know meet the team, team build in that way, but also to make sure that all the infrastructure is working correctly, and to ensure all network connections were ready to go. After the onsite work, Fairbanks continued delivering the OpenStack cloud environment online, from the office in The Netherlands.
Nowadays we provide the Ministry with proactive services such as daily health checks, periodic reporting, continuous service improvement, as well as 24*7 proactive monitoring and on call availability. After more than five years of working together this already resulted in zero downtime.
Furthermore, the client plans to continue building on the initial success and acclaim of its platform to achieve further benefits as part of its goal to provide the best services and products through data supported, innovative digital transformation.
What do you think of this case? Did the client make the right decision? Would you have done something differently or additionally?