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Mitchell Shire Council

OVERVIEW

Mitchell Shire Council (MSC) is modernising its on-premises infrastructure environment by migrating its disaster recovery (DR) services from local data centre providers to Microsoft Cloud, aiming to alleviate existing capital expenditure and operational pains with a strategic Azure roadmap. Leading the way is Project Manager Kamran Changezi, whose Azure background ensured a move that takes advantage of the platform’s backup and site recovery services.

With an Azure MasterPlan solution built from the ground up with their business needs in mind, MSC now has a better understanding of how Azure’s capabilities can support their many objectives and take them towards a cloud-first future.

Client:

Mitchell Shire Council

Industry:

Local Government

Solution:

Azure MasterPlan

Cost optimisation master plan leveraging Azure

Cloud-first strategy that clearly defines Azure benefits

Business continuity that supports their goals for better DR

The Challenge

MSC has faced infrastructure challenges as part of their ongoing digital transformation and modernisation initiatives.

The council’s key driver to uplift their existing environment was a six-year-old Microwave link, which previously connected remote sites and their data centres in Broadford and Seymour. The Microwave link no longer provides adequate bandwidth for Mitchell Shire Council’s current business activities and has been the source of latency and stability problems.

The council has also maintained a disaster recovery site at Seymour, which has proven costly and complex.

Prior to engaging Xello, Mitchell Shire Council were exploring several DR options for services and systems that needed to meet their modern business continuity objectives, while finding an option that could also replace their Microwave network. This meant the council needed to invest a lot of capital expense to upgrade their equipment, and the cloud best fit the bill in terms of long-term cost-savings and future proof capability.

MSC’s IT team were no strangers to the cloud, having previously implemented Azure Active Directory and Office 365. Their new focus soon became finding the best provider for migrating DR capabilities away from their existing costly setup, while also modernising their backup, SQL Server and site recovery capabilities by leveraging the same future-proofed platform.

The Decision

While there is a current project in place to transition to an MPLS based network, the council ultimately decided to migrate their existing DR function into Microsoft Cloud and remove their infrastructure dependence upon the microwave link entirely with Azure.

Mitchell Shire Council Project Manager Kamran Changezi joined the team to spearhead their new cloud initiative, using his valuable professional experience with Azure to build a basic roadmap and help the team understand they could move away from their more expensive on-premises DR solution and migrate their workload to a familiar cloud platform with minimal downtime and impact on capital expenses.

For Mr Changezi, three major pain-points formed the decision to find a strategy that could prepare them for cloud infrastructure: “Number one was our near end-of-life Microwave network, which proved costly to maintain. Our backups and DR were sometimes not able to be completed on-time.”

“The second pain-point is our on-premise data centre. Because our offices are distributed, our connectivity is through Citrix. The plan is to slowly get rid of the Citrix environment, which is becoming harder to manage and costlier to maintain.”

The third pain-point is the complexity of the on-prem backup systems the council is currently using: “They’re harder to use and our system admins have a tough time configuring and getting up to speed with updates, which is something we want to change – to leverage a simpler, more efficient system,” Mr Changezi said.

“Right from day one, Xello has been very quick to understand what our needs were, and very thorough in exploring all our pain-points with us and advising on all the possibilities and solutions that can really work for us, and how we can utilise these new platforms in a better way.”

Kamran Changezi

Project Manager at Mitchell Shire Council

The Solution

Mitchell Shire Council determined moving to Azure could provide compliant, secure and scalable disaster recovery and a future-proofed platform to explore moving their backup, SQL Server and site recovery to the cloud.

The next step was to partner with an experienced cloud consultancy who could assess their current environment and determine the best way forward with a robust cloud master plan and transition roadmap.

The council defined several key business requirements they needed from a cloud strategy:

  • Ability to realise cost optimisation opportunities
  • Improved disaster recovery (DR) capabilities
  • Improved security and governance outcomes
  • Retirement of Microwave links and full move into Azure

The council directly engaged Microsoft to find a partner experienced with cloud infrastructure migration and optimisation. Meeting the council’s requirements, Xello soon joined the team, working closely with Kamran to map out the council’s cloud journey in the form of the Azure MasterPlan.

Based on existing applications and infrastructure as well as future growth areas, Xello’s Azure MasterPlan solution established a cost-effective pattern for transforming Mitchell Shire Council through the efficient consumption of public cloud services. Utilising a cloud readiness framework, Xello reviewed MSC’s infrastructure and services currently deployed, and ran discovery to align Azure’s DR capabilities with MSC’s backup and disaster recovery requirements and objectives.

The Azure MasterPlan took MSC through the integration, network and security benefits if they moved to the cloud, helping them better understand what the cloud offers and to establish a long-term strategy which provided the following:

  • Cost Model Analysis: Cost analysis of existing services and infrastructure and a 3-year Total Cost Analysis (TCO) on the estimated transition to the cloud, which calculated cost savings of 30% over a 3 year-period on Microsoft Azure.
  • Cloud Architecture: An extensive plan covering the benefits of IaaS/PaaS/SaaS/DRaaS to outline the cloud’s different capabilities, fit to MSC’s goals.
  • Strategic Roadmap: A plan outlining a cloud roadmap in three stages: now, next, and horizon, aligned to MSC’s goals.

For Mr Changezi, the solution gave the council valuable direction on the benefits of the cloud.

“The Azure MasterPlan has helped us understand much better, for example, ‘if this is the size of your data and this is the DR requirements, you will end up paying x amount on a yearly basis – and as you grow, or you don’t utilise it, you pay accordingly’,” he said. “It was a really clear picture and it gave us the confidence to move into the cloud this year.”

“With this roadmap, it’s clear we’re not going to waste resources in Azure, and the whole platform can grow as we grow. We don’t have to invest every five years in expensive infrastructure any longer and try to maintain it and face repair problems.”

The Outcome

MSC has successfully established Azure ExpressRoute and extended its private network and data centre in Azure via Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) hosted domain controllers, using the Azure MasterPlan as its overarching strategic roadmap for its journey to the cloud.

Meanwhile, the council’s deployment of Azure Site Recovery, transition to Azure Backup and retirement of its Microwave link dependency is ongoing.

“The Azure MasterPlan has helped us understand how the cloud can free up time for IT operations and support to work on innovating business processes, instead of worrying about day-to-day operational problems,” said Mr Changezi.

While the council is still in the early stages of its overall cloud journey, they now have a clearer picture of how Microsoft Azure’s services can align and benefit with their long-term digital transformation objectives.

“The idea is to build everything around this Azure ecosystem, so that everything talks to each other and is interfaced properly,” Mr Changezi concludes. “Not only to support our key driver of leveraging a better disaster recovery solution, but also so our day-to-day business processes can flow swiftly around this without expensive interfaces or customisations.”

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