New Forest District Council (NFDC) was seeking to replace its legacy ICT infrastructure which was reaching its end of effective life and was no longer extendable. The legacy infrastructure required increasing time and effort to maintain, and the Council was looking for a partner to design and implement a new solution.

Like many Councils, NFDC was undergoing fundamental change and ICT was at the heart of this process. Major application upgrades, new applications, the digitisation of citizen services, plus workforce transformation, were all in progress. The Cabinet and Executive management team were fully bought into the strategic need to transform the infrastructure at NFDC.

The local infrastructure ran the vast majority of the Council’s fifty plus applications on VMWare virtualised servers, some physical servers, and a SAN. The in-house ICT Infrastructure team, part of the wider ICT Services team, was providing support for the existing services and were assisted by various local and corporate suppliers.

The chosen supplier was required to provide the full scope of future services including the design, procurement, commissioning, implementation and joint operation of the future infrastructure. 

The Solution 

The solution included the consultancy, audit, technical design and implementation, together with operational processes and the organisational model required to manage the infrastructure.

The key service deliverables comprised of:

  • Consultancy 
  • Design
  • Project Delivery
  • Implementation
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery
  • Monitoring
  • Ongoing support and management of the infrastructure

The infrastructure included:

  • Compute, Storage and Cloud Platform
  • Software
  • Network Infrastructure
  • WAN and Firewall

WAN – The council has a number of locations around the district and required to migrate WAN links and other connectivity contracts from their incumbent provider to be directly managed by NFDC. A co-located infrastructure was specified to improve disaster recovery for the council and to overcome issues with local power. New circuits needed to be installed to provide a resilient secure backbone. Security for the Perimeter WAN was provided by next gen firewalls from Fortinet and implemented by European Electronique’s accredited engineers. 

Server and Storage Platform – The server platform needed to be capable of running a minimum of 120 servers and of utilising the latest Windows Server operating systems and SQL version from 2012 to current. The solution needed to have the capability of mixing operating systems to allow legacy applications requiring an older OS to be located on the same platform. The system needed to be scalable to grow with the council as required. 

After a full detailed design process the chosen solution was HPE ProLiant Gen 10 Compute and Nimble storage. Installed in a co-located fully resilient configuration and integrated with Microsoft cloud platform for additional hosted services.

Network Infrastructure – The council needed to update the LAN infrastructure which having grown organically over the years was starting to cause issues with speed due to bottle necks and management overhead owing to the complexity. 

European Electronique proposed a 10GB HPE Aruba switch backbone with new links installed between key data cabinets to provide a resilient star topology and remove bottle necks.

Licensing – A Licensing gap analysis was undertaken to evaluate the existing licences against the future requirements. Following that an evaluation process was undertaken of the different solutions available from a number of vendors, also considering open source and lower cost options. Recommendations of the products representing the best value for money were put forward to the council.Taken into account was the total cost of ownership which covered a number of different factors:  the skills of the onsite support team to maintain and manage the chosen solution, retraining costs, long term renewal costs and the full lifecycle of software ownership.

Back-Up Solution A well- designed back-up solution needs to take into consideration not only the customer requirements and the work pattern but also must satisfy GDPR regulations. To meet these requirements European Electronique proposed a solution which would back-up all the data in an overnight window whilst providing the ability to restore data when necessary. The solution also considered the requirement for specialist applications and provided back-up for software and data, both on-premise and in the cloud. A Veeam solution was implemented to provide backup of the datacentre and cloud data to the dedicated remote site.

New Ways of Working – A large requirement of the solution was to enable smarter working for which NFDC had launched a drive towards creating a more flexible, agile and mobile workforce. There was a requirement for a remote access solution that would provide a user experience that was easy, consistent and secure when working from any place: office, home or other remote location. 

Approximately 700 staff required access to all in-office applications remotely which included a document management system, internet/email and GIS/CAD.  Many of these applications were legacy fat client applications requiring them to be installed on the local device. 

European Electronique worked closely with the NFDC team, this included setting up user and technical workshops to define a solution.  The solution comprised of Microsoft and Fortinet technologies that met all of the required criteria, providing a highly secure environment and maintaining the integrity of the NFDC network. The solution included secure software for VPN, two factor authentication and continued to meet compliance such as the Government PSN.

Ongoing Support – European Electronique worked closely with NFDC to design a tailormade service and support delivery model. This proposal included European Electroniques’s 3rd line support both on and offsite, a monitoring and SIEM solution to manage the infrastructure and software moving forward and the monitoring and deployment of software patches and platform updates.