A new IT infrastructure streamlines an expanding housing association’s activity

Client: Bron Afon
Industry: Social Housing
Project: Virtualisation Upgrade
Housing association, Bron Afon is benefiting from migrating its ICT provision onto a virtual environment to scale up its back-office functions after experiencing substantial growth.
“It was a seamless migration which was impressive given this was the first time we had undergone this process. The whole solution is totally reliable.”
Lee Walsh, ICT Manager, Bron Afon
Client

Bron Afon is a social enterprise that covers construction, community regeneration and support. It was established in March 2008 when Torfaen Council tenants voted for Bron Afon to be their new landlord. Since then it has been bringing their homes up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.

Challenge

Since its inception, Bron Afon has undergone sustained growth. The organisation needed its back-office functions to scale more effectively to meet the evolving demands of the association. The original hardware it had purchased when it was founded was a mixture of virtual and physical servers that needed a refresh. It needed a new platform that could be easily scaled up and that would be future proofed in the long term.

Bron Afon wanted to ensure that the new solution would be cost-effective, scalable and stable while delivering more speed and flexibility. It was also critical that the deployment of the new system caused minimal disruption to the day to day running of the business.

Solution

Central suggested that Fujitsu would be the most cost-effective, high-performing choice for the new virtual environment. Over one week, our team worked with Fujitsu to migrate Bron Afon’s applications, including Oracle and VoIP, to 150 virtual machines hosted on five servers, combined with a storage area network.

The solution enabled Bron Afon to consolidate its existing physical servers into the virtual environment while condensing the physical hosts. Furthermore, the cooling technology would boost performance.

“It was a seamless migration which was impressive given this was the first time we had undergone this process. We gave ourselves one week with both systems running in tandem to transition the data and services. Both Central and Fujitsu helped us move up to 1,000GBs of live applications and data per day.”  Lee Walsh, IT Manager at Bron Afon.

Results

As a result of the migration, Bron Afon found that performance had doubled even though the original physical infrastructure of eight ESX and eight Terminal servers had reduced to just five Fujitsu physical machines. Previously, 85 per cent of the servers were being consumed by memory, which has now reduced down to 45 per cent.

Furthermore, their IT team are benefitting from no longer needing to spend hours cloning virtual machines. Previously, it would take them three or more days to rebuild in the event of a fault, where now they can simply delete the disk image and restore it with the gold virtual image in a matter of minutes.

Bron Afon still uses some legacy databases to generate mass reports which would normally take four hours to run and have to take place overnight. Now, they are available within half an hour. All these advantages save the Bron Afron IT team valuable time while making users more productive.

Finally, its users are also noticing significant benefits to their application speed and log-on times, allowing them to work faster, despite using thin clients.

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