The IT function at Dundee City Council plays its part in the overall drive for efficiency by continually reducing the size and complexity of the infrastructure—even while increasing the variety and number of services it offers. Server virtualization is a key tool, enabling the Council to consolidate multiple physical systems to a smaller number of machines for reduced hardware, software and operational costs. As energy costs continue to rise, the ability of virtualization to create an infrastructure that uses electricity far more efficiently is another major bonus.
To keep support costs low, the IT function aimed to standardize on a single operating system for virtualized servers across both mainframe and x86 platforms. Critical factors were to ensure high availability and support from major software vendors such as Oracle.
"We originally chose SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as the best-adapted Linux distribution for the mainframe, and because it matched the release cycles for Oracle more closely than competing distributions," said Tim Simpson, IT Support Manager, Dundee City Council. "When we looked to introduce a standard Linux distribution for business-critical workloads on x86 machines, it made sense to select SUSE Linux Enterprise Server—as we had built up significant skills and as it was certified for use with all our major applications."
Dundee City Council now deploys SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for any system that requires a certified operating system for vendor support. Across its two IBM mainframes, the organization has a total of between 70 and 100 Linux virtual servers— the number fluctuates as requirements change.
The Council recently purchased a new support contract for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems and LinuxONE from ANS Group, a SUSE Partner. "ANS Group offered by far the most competitive pricing for SUSE Linux Enterprise for z Systems, and the service was highly professional," said Simpson.
"We buy support mainly in order to get the latest version of the software; one of the great things about open source is the free support available from the community."
On the x86 side of the infrastructure, the Council has approximately 100 instances of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, both running natively and as virtual machines using built-in Xen virtualization.
The organization has recently decided to migrate away from a legacy Windows-based e-mail system, and will run the new solution on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
"We trust SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to run a range of important systems for the Council, and the ease of firing up new virtual servers makes it likely that the Linux environment will continue to grow," said Simpson. "The ability to run Linux on just about every physical platform out there makes it a very powerful tool. In particular, that means that any investment in internal skills can pay dividends in more than one part of the infrastructure."
By extending its use of server virtualization, using both Xen for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Parallels Virtuoso for Windows, Dundee City Council is steadily driving down cost and carbon emissions, while improving the quality of IT service delivery.
"Our two mainframes host 100 virtual servers, replacing at least 50 under-utilized x86 machines and all the associated power and cooling requirements," said Simpson. "As well as giving us a smaller and more efficient infrastructure, this ultimately means that we're making better use of taxpayer money."