Sørum Kommune helps staff serve citizens more efficiently with high-performance IT infrastructure

Overview
Encompassing both beautiful rural landscapes and fast links to the capital city, the Norwegian municipality of Sørum Kommune is growing in popularity as a place to live. But with more people moving to the area, how could the municipality keep public service levels high? With a new Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) software-defined storage solution from Lenovo and Microsoft, Sørum Kommune has boosted performance of key business applications, enabling staff to respond to citizen requests faster.
 
“In order to have functional, stable and responsive systems that allow us to serve our citizens in the best possible way, we have moved our healthcare and admin systems over to the Lenovo S2D cluster.”
 —Hans Petter Hetland,
Head of Digitization and ICT,
Sørum Kommune
 
Solution components
Hardware
Lenovo System x3650 M5 with Intel® Xeon® E5 processor family
Lenovo RackSwitch G8124E
 
Software
Lenovo XClarity
Microsoft Windows Server 2016 with Storage Spaces Direct
 
“In the past, we’d get performance levels of around 30,000 IOPS with our traditional SAN system. We’re now seeing performance levels of just under a million IOPS, so applications are running up to 30 times faster.”
 —Anders Jensen,
Solution Architect,
Sørum Kommune
 
Sørum Kommune is a municipality in eastern Norway with a population of 17,600. The local government is responsible for a wide range of public services, including primary education, healthcare, social services, road maintenance and zoning. The municipality employs around 1,000 people.

Keeping up with a growing population
Boasting both picturesque rural surroundings and excellent transport links to Oslo, Sørum Kommune has experienced a population boom in recent years, with more and more people moving to the area in search of a better quality of life.

Hans Petter Hetland, Head of Digitization and ICT at Sørum Kommune, begins: “We’re a fast-growing municipality, which means that we have to work hard to ensure that the IT systems supporting vital public services can keep up with the challenges posed by population growth.”

The municipality found that its existing storage area network (SAN) system was struggling to cope with increasing demand.

Anders Jensen, Solution Architect at Sørum Kommune, elaborates: “The SAN solution underpinning our IT operations was nearing full capacity, which caused a number of performance issues and eventually resulted in a major breakdown – leaving staff unable to access the systems or files they need to serve citizens. Although we got everything back up and running pretty quickly, we knew it was only a matter of time before it happened again.”

All-new storage strategy
Initially, Sørum Kommune looked at simply replacing its aging SAN solution with a new one. Following discussions with technology partner Move AS, however, the municipality decided to take a different approach.

Hans Petter Hetland recalls: “We realized that if we bought an expensive new storage system now, we’d just have to buy another one next year as soon as it reached capacity. We didn’t want to fall into that trap and have to invest again in another year or two. Software-defined storage technology represented a more easily-scalable, cost-efficient, long-term alternative.”

Anders Jensen remarks: “We looked at software-defined storage offerings from several vendors, and Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct [S2D] on Lenovo servers was by far the most streamlined solution.”

Working closely with technicians from Lenovo, Microsoft and Move, the municipality implemented four Lenovo System x3650 M5 servers as a single Lenovo Cloud Configuration for Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct cluster. Featuring the Intel® Xeon® E5 processor family, the Lenovo servers deliver almost one million input/output operations per second (IOPS) – a huge boost in performance.

“The reliability and stability of the Lenovo servers were other key deciding factors,” says Anders Jensen. “Lenovo hardware provides very high uptime, which is just what we need to keep vital citizen information services available around the clock – having a scalable storage solution is no good to us if it’s always down.”

He adds: “Support from the Lenovo team has been fantastic, both during and after the implementation. We’re an early adopter of Microsoft S2D, so there have been a few hiccups with the software. The Lenovo staff have been so helpful, assisting in whatever way they can. We appreciate all the time and effort they’ve poured into the project.”

Improving employee productivity to deliver better citizen services
With the solution now up and running, Sørum Kommune is working to migrate all its business applications over to the Lenovo S2D cluster. Having already moved some key workloads over, including its Microsoft Exchange email server, SQL database servers and file servers, the municipality has seen a dramatic performance improvement.

Anders Jensen comments: “In the past, we’d get performance levels of around 30,000 IOPS with our traditional SAN system. We’re now seeing performance levels of just under a million IOPS, so applications are running up to 30 times faster. Employees would often experience long waiting times when using certain applications, but now they get instant feedback – enabling them to get on with their jobs instead of waiting for pages to load. Feedback from users has been very positive and we can’t wait until we’ve moved the remaining workloads over to the Lenovo S2D cluster.”

Hans Petter Hetland adds: “Employees have already noticed a big difference when going about their daily work, which is very encouraging. In order to have functional, stable and responsive systems that allow us to serve our citizens in the best possible way, we have moved our healthcare and admin systems over to the Lenovo S2D cluster.”

With Microsoft S2D, Sørum Kommune can build and scale new storage environments quickly and easily, and seamlessly add new nodes to the cluster as and when more capacity is needed.

“Thanks to the software-defined nature of the Lenovo S2D cluster, adding extra capacity is simple,” says Hans Petter Hetland. “Capacity-wise, we’re all set for the next three or four years, but knowing that we can just add a node to the cluster is a weight off our mind. It’s much cheaper in the long-run than using traditional SAN systems and, as the population continues growing, that kind of scalability is exactly what we need.”

Anders Jensen concludes: “We’ve been very impressed with the Lenovo S2D cluster so far, so we’re excited about moving the rest of our applications over. Having a stable, high-performance and easily-scalable infrastructure to support IT operations helps us to provide the best service that we can to citizens.”

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 Sørum Kommune, visit: www.sorum.kommune.no or connect with @sorumkommune
 
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