Caerphilly County Borough Council enhances public services with the power of Lenovo

Overview
Due to reduced government funding, Caerphilly County Borough Council faces a huge challenge: how can it keep public service levels high while keeping costs low? By virtualising and consolidating its IT infrastructure onto powerful Lenovo servers equipped with Intel® Xeon® E5 processors, the council is saving on energy, while boosting the responsiveness of citizen-facing web services and critical business applications.
 
“By virtualising and consolidating our IT infrastructure to Lenovo servers, we’ve been able to make meaningful cost savings without compromising council services.”
 —Jonathan James,
Acting Principal Operations Officer,
Caerphilly County Borough Council
 
Solution components
Hardware
Lenovo System x3550 M5 with Intel® Xeon® E5 processor family
Lenovo ThinkServer RD550 with Intel Xeon E5 processor family
Lenovo ThinkServer RD650 with Intel Xeon E5 processor family
 
Software
Citrix XenDesktop
Microsoft Exchange Server
Microsoft SQL Server
VMware vSphere
 
“Having Lenovo as our technology partner helps us to improve the quality of service we provide citizens, without breaking the bank.”
 —Jonathan James,
Acting Principal Operations Officer,
Caerphilly County Borough Council
 
Caerphilly County Borough Council (CCBC) is a local authority in Wales, UK, that delivers a wide range of key services to the 170,000 people living in the area. From education and social care to waste collection, recycling, road maintenance and leisure, CCBC is committed to making the borough a great place to live, work and visit.

Tackling public-sector challenges
CCBC, like all UK local authorities, is under enormous pressure from central government to deliver cost savings. The Welsh Government, which provides councils like CCBC with most of their funding, has reduced spending in recent years, forcing local authorities to make savings wherever they can.

Jonathan James, Acting Principal Operations Officer at CCBC, begins: “CCBC has been proactive in maintaining its frontline services with budget reductions affecting mostly back-office services. The budget for the IT department has been reduced annually for several years, but throughout this period of financial constraint the IT department has continued to find innovative and cost-effective ways to provide services.”

“To ensure that we would continue delivering the best level of service to citizens while making the required cost savings, we wanted to make IT as efficient as possible.”

Achieving more with less
CCBC singled out IT infrastructure as an area where it could make significant cost savings while keeping service levels high.

First, CCBC closed several smaller IT infrastructure hubs in local offices and moved its entire physical infrastructure to its central data centre. “We wanted to centralise and consolidate IT services,” says Jonathan James. “We decided that the best way to do this was to virtualise as many applications, PCs and servers as we could, and to host and manage everything at our central data centre.

“Previously, our IT department was fairly disparate and spread out at offices across the authority. Now that we’ve moved everything to our central location, we are making savings on power and cooling.”

To support its large virtual server environment, based on VMware vSphere, and the Citrix XenDesktop virtual desktop environment, CBCC implemented 40 Lenovo ThinkServer RD550 and RD650 servers, and ten Lenovo System x3350 M5 servers. Featuring the Intel® Xeon® E5 processor family, the Lenovo servers deliver the high performance needed to run more than 600 virtual machines.

Jonathan James recalls: “What initially attracted us to Lenovo was the value – the fact the servers offered such high levels of performance and reliability at such an attractive price point. Implementing the servers couldn’t have been simpler – we just popped in a CD, and were able to get everything set up and configured very quickly.”

Unlocking cost savings
Today, dozens of critical business applications, including the council’s payroll systems and website content management tool, utilise virtual machines on the Lenovo servers. Others, such as CCBC’s Microsoft Exchange email server, run directly on the physical hardware.

“As well as cutting data centre energy costs, virtualising and consolidating our infrastructure has helped us to make IT more cost-efficient in other ways,” notes Jonathan James. “For example, we now spend a lot less time – and therefore money – on management and maintenance.”

Since moving the back-end SQL database supporting the council website to the Lenovo infrastructure, CCBC has seen a significant boost in performance. Jonathan James remarks: “Citizens using the website can now get the information they’re looking for and apply for the services they need faster. It’s a win-win situation – we’re making cost savings and providing a better service to citizens at the same time.”

The efficiency of the Lenovo platform has assisted CCBC in the introduction of digital payslips. “Pay slips are now available to download from the internal employee self-service portal,” says Jonathan James. “As well as being convenient for staff, it has the potential to save paper, printing and postage costs.”

He concludes: “By virtualising and consolidating our IT infrastructure to Lenovo servers, we’ve been able to make meaningful cost savings without compromising council services. Having Lenovo as our technology partner helps us to improve the quality of service we provide citizens, without breaking the bank.”

For more information
To learn more about Lenovo Data Center Systems solutions, contact your Lenovo Sales Representative or Lenovo Business Partner, or visit: lenovo.com/systems

For more information about Caerphilly County Borough Council, visit: www.caerphilly.gov.uk or connect with @CaerphillyCBC
 
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