Isle of Man government completes hybrid cloud infrastructure project

The Isle of Man has finalised a cloud rollout that saves 15 percent of its annual IT budget

The government of the Isle of Man has completed the move to a cloud-based infrastructure, the culmination of a 12-month project.

The self-governing island commenced the work to overhaul its data centres at the end of 2010 and by a process of virtualisation and rationalisation, the island government has managed to make cost savings of around £250,000 a year, about 15 percent of the IT budget.  The government has virtualised about 98 percent of its servers.

The Isle of Man is now operating a hybrid cloud environment based on Unisys private cloud services.  Other technology used includes Unisys enterprise servers, Microsoft virtualisation technology and VPLEX-enabled EMC storage.

Unusually, this modernisation process has included an increase in the number of data centres, from two to four, but as Peter Clarke, the Isle of Man’s chief technology officer explained the move was to bring greater reliability into the system. “The thinking behind that was looking at recovery scenarios, if you put everything in one place, you affect monitoring. We have two clouds now for our operations, one for data recovery and one solely dedicated to monitoring,” he said, explaining that the projections for reliability expected a data centre every 50 years.

Clarke added that the previous tape-based recovery system had been inadequate. “If we tried to recover the consolidated data centre, the tape system could only cope with a partical recovery. That’s not the case now, we can now restore from disk in about a day,” he said.

The modernisation process has also helped in the roll-out of new applications as processes had been speeded up considerably. “It used to take between 30 and 60 days to provision new servers, we have now reduced that to one day.

The new hybrid cloud infrastructure operates across nine government departments and 12 statutory boards and commissions.

Clarke said that the entire system is completely independent of the UK and, while there’s collaboration in some areas, does not form part of the country’s public sector ready to benefit from the move to G-Cloud.  “We have our own emergency services and health service,” he said. “There are some advantages to being small: we have an IT system that supports ‘one patient, one record’ something that the UK is a long way from achieving.”

He also added that the cloud infrastructure fitted in well with the Isle of Man’s culture. Far from being a technological backwater, the island is home to a thriving space and satellite industry. “There was a recent survey which suggested that the Isle of Man was fifth on the list of nations likely to land men on the moon," he said.

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