The New South Wales Fire Brigades Logo
Industry: .edu & .gov
Location: Australia
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The New South Wales Fire Brigades


  • Reduced hardware costs by migrating to virtualized Linux servers
  • Enabled greater flexibility and speed of response to new requirements
  • Improved the ease and speed of IT disaster recovery


By migrating its SAP applications to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, the New South Wales Fire Brigades significantly reduced its infrastructure costs while improving the availability and performance of mission-critical services. The new environment uses VMware virtualization software to provide additional flexibility and resilience.


Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, the New South Wales Fire Brigades (NSWFB) is the state government agency responsible for managing fire emergencies across cities and towns in rural and regional NSW. The organization also carries out rescues, deals with hazardous materials incidents, and supports other agencies during and after bushfires, storms, floods and other emergency situations. The NSWFB has nearly 6,700 firefighters, a network of 339 fire stations and a fleet of 883 vehicles.

The Challenge

The NSWFB runs SAP ERP to handle nearly all operational support processes across its extended organization. The existing infrastructure for running this mission-critical system had reached the end of its supported life. The NSWFB needed to find an operating system that would combine exceptionally high availability, performance and reliability with low total cost of ownership. It was also vital to ensure full support from SAP to avoid risk in the future.

Equally, with multiple individual servers supporting applications and databases within the SAP ERP environment, the infrastructure at the NSWFB was overly complex and difficult to manage.

Each physical server was potentially a single point of failure, and it was difficult for the IT department to deliver the high availability demanded by users. The NSWFB wanted to move to a virtualized server environment, and needed to ensure that its chosen operating system could support virtualization with almost no impact on performance.

“Choosing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and using virtualization gave us a lower-cost, high-availability platform that is fully supported by SAP. This enabled us to have a single point of contact for all support issues.”

SUSE Solution

To address its issues around complexity, cost, availability and performance, the NSWFB decided to migrate to Linux and introduce server virtualization for its SAP solutions.

After evaluating other operating systems, the organization chose SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with VMware virtualization software, a combination certified by SAP, creating clustered environments for resilience in both its main data center and its head office location.

Patrick Cooney, Enterprise Server Architect at the NSWFB, said, “Choosing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and using virtualization gave us a lower-cost, high-availability platform that is fully supported by SAP. This enabled us to have a single point of contact for all support issues.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is also superbly adapted for running on VMware Infrastructure. This performance has justified its choice over other operating systems in hosting our SAP environment.”

The NSWFB selected SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Priority Support for SAP Applications, designed to provide enterprise- class support without the cost of maintaining a large team of in-house experts. This service delivers maintenance and support in a single package, reducing support complexity and lowering the total cost of ownership. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is the only Linux distribution recommended by SAP and the only one to offer support integrated through the SAP Solution Manager into the SAP global support backbone.

All data for the SAP environment is on a storage area network, and is replicated from the data center to the head office. “The virtualized SUSE Linux Enterprise Server instances are stored on the SAN, which enables us to failover to our head office in the event of a disaster at our data center,” said Anthony McGuigan, Network Services Manager at the NSWFB. “This recovery option, together with the highavailability offering in the SUSE Linux platform, makes it an ideal platform for running our mission-critical SAP applications.”

The NSWFB uses NetIQ® Identity Manager to control user identities and access rights across its network, and took advantage of the pre-built connectors for SAP to enable a rapid migration of users to the new infrastructure.

The Results

Migrating its mission-critical SAP environment to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and VMware Infrastructure has helped the NSWFB significantly reduce its infrastructure and operational costs, while improving availability and performance.

“Moving our SAP servers to virtualized SUSE Linux Enterprise Server instances has definitely reduced our costs for purchasing new hardware,” said Cooney. “As we make more efficient use of the available resources, hardware upgrades are less frequent. This saves money and minimizes downtime in the data center.”

Virtualization also enables greater flexibility, better responsiveness to new requirements and faster disaster recovery. When a new server is required, the IT team can simply provision a new SUSE Linux Enterprise Server instance from an image on the SAN.

“We originally chose SUSE Linux Enterprise Server in part on the strength of support we have received from SUSE,” said McGuigan. “The quality of technical support from SUSE is excellent, and helps us to keep critical systems available to the organization around the clock. And with our licensing agreement, we have a single point of contact for coordinated support services from SUSE and SAP, whether the issue lies in the operating system or the application layer.”