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Department for Business, Innovation & Skills refreshes servers with Fujitsu

"Fujitsu did a great job in scoping the project, designing a migration plan and then executing on that plan. In the space of six months, it has transformed our IT architecture to provide a responsive, stable system"

Andrea Chapman, Project Manager, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The customer

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) is the UK’s department for economic growth. It invests in skills and education to promote trade, boost innovation and help people to start and grow a business. BIS also protects consumers and reduces the impact of regulation. It is a ministerial department, supported by 48 agencies and public bodies.

The challenge

ELGAR is an outsourcing contract to supply and manage IT equipment and core services and was originally put in place by the former Department for Trade and Industry. BIS relies on the ELGAR platform for its IT infrastructure and for the past five years has been responsible for maintaining and refreshing the servers and software, however, the technology was approaching end-of-life and enduring multiple failures leading to significant downtime. The department needed a cohesive technology refresh programme that would make the platform supportable again.

“We were struggling to keep the machines alive and functioning because they were no longer supported due to the late stage in the lifecycle. This meant some systems being down for up to five days at a time which clearly impacted on the business,” explains Andrea Chapman, Project Manager, BIS. “We needed to replace the aging servers and outdated software without disrupting the day to day operations of the business.”

Fujitsu is the primary supplier within the ELGAR framework and so was the ideal partner to overhaul the existing technology and replace it with a solution more fit for purpose. Following extensive negotiations, BIS and Fujitsu agreed a six month plan to replace 28 servers supporting 4,500 users across 24 locations.

The solution

Fujitsu designed a process that would enable the transition to a new fleet of PRIMERGY S6 and S7 servers without impacting on the Department’s operations. A dedicated team of six engineers focused on the architecture refresh and a total of almost 12,000 man hours was devoted to the project. This covered Programme and Project Management, Technical Design and Approvals, Test and Validation, Procurement, Implementation, Service Support and Migrations.

“The success of the migration was down to Fujitsu’s careful planning and its great project managers,” adds Chapman. “This ensured we could gradually migrate services without affecting the business.”

Within the scope of the project, Fujitsu upgraded Microsoft Exchange from 2003 to 2010; migrated in total over 6,000 user and group mailboxes; and updated 14 user servers and 14 Microsoft Exchange servers. By working overnight and at weekends, the process was as unobtrusive as possible, meaning end-users were largely unaware of the significant changes happening behind the scenes.

“We notified our employees that certain systems would be offline from 6pm on a specific day, for example, so everyone would know to expect outages but as it took place after hours, it did not pose much of an inconvenience,” continues Chapman. “Everything went to schedule and within six months, we had a new infrastructure that could be supported by Fujitsu within the agreed SLAs.”

The system hosts a variety of office productivity applications, user files, shared databases and Active Directory.

The benefit

As a result of the technology refresh programme, BIS is now enjoying much higher performance and vastly improved reliability. It also now has disaster recovery functionality for its Exchange servers, which was not previously available. This adds further resilience to the architecture.

“Since the project was completed, we have had no downtime across any of the servers which makes our users more productive. In addition, the services are much faster which reduces user frustration,” says Chapman. “I’ve had lots of feedback from Director-level and beyond saying that the new platform is a huge improvement.”

The project has also created extra inbox capacity, added storage and a refreshed archiving system. Altogether it has reduced the service cost considerably through the stability of the hardware.

“Fujitsu did a great job in scoping the project, designing a migration plan and then executing on that plan. In the space of six months, it transformed our IT architecture to provide a responsive, stable system,” comments Chapman. “Thanks to that reliability, the cost of maintaining the technology has reduced and, if there are any problems, we will be able to resolve them much more quickly and effectively.”

With the ELGAR framework due to come to the end of its contract in March 2014, BIS is confident it has a robust and reliable backbone to provide business critical applications and services to its staff now and in the future.

“Fujitsu’s team was very responsive and great at coming up with creative solutions to issues as they arise. As a result, we enjoyed a seamless, well planned transition that has given us a server platform that is reliable and high-performing. The result is a much improved platform that stands us in good stead for the future.”