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Date: 18 April 2011

ICT Investment Programme Update


Purpose of Report

The purpose of this report is to provide status update for the ICT Investment


  1) That the update to scrutiny be noted.

Key Issues

   1) Prior to commencing the ICT programme, the ICT Infrastructure was
      unreliable, difficult to support, expensive to maintain and results in delivery of
      a below average service.
   2) A programme of eight projects was approved in 2010 by the Council
      Executive to deliver a fit for purpose infrastructure that meets the future needs
      of the Council.
   3) This programme had been running and is at a point where a significant
      amount of work has been completed and a scheduled update point has been


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Over the next few years Northumberland County Council faces challenging budget
issues and therefore needs to produce a future operating environment that is more
effective and efficient, is fit for purpose and helps support the strategic direction
around the community strategy and the flexible operating models needed for a
modern council operation. The organisation has a desire to transform and the speed
of the transformation has increased considerably with the introduction of the new
senior management structure.

In facilitating these changes, there will be more reliance upon ICT and particularly
the core ICT infrastructure including the internal data network, the telephone system
and the servers on which the business applications operate. It is not possible to
deliver any of the above without a considerable investment in ICT.

For some time there has been a significant lack of investment in ICT infrastructure
which has resulted in much of the current environment being out of date and
ineffectual. The current ICT infrastructure have been unreliable and ineffective
requiring a large support overhead to maintain a below average service. Resolving
these problems is to be achieved by a complete technology refresh of the core
infrastructure has been a core drive of this Ict transformation programme.

The council has identified a programme of eight infrastructure projects to achieve
this refresh. The new core infrastructure delivered by the programme will improve
the Council’s ability to meet future business requirements and also provides an
effective environment to support the organisation’s future ambitions around shared
services and private cloud computing.

The ICT Investment Programme was presented as a paper from the Deputy Chief
Executive and recommended by the Council’s Senior Management Team (SMT) for
approval by the Council Executive.



The authority used seven telephone systems that were only partly integrated.
Provision of a telephony service requires considerable levels of support, with staff
often having to visit numerous sites rather than being able to fix remotely. The main
system in County Hall werearound 15 years old and would fall out of support at the
end of 2011.

This project is to rationalise all the telephone systems into one, that is software
driven system running Voice Over IP (VoIP), with the appropriate contact centre
technologies such as Automatic Call Distribution and Computer Telephony
Integration solution across the whole estate. This will enable users to become agile

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logging into the phone network from any position and will support the members
priority to focus on citizen customer services.

Progress to Date

      A procurement process was undertaken, led by SCC under the Sprint II
       framework. A specification was written by NCC staff with technical input from
      A two month, in-depth selection process is well underway to decide on the
       preferred supplier. Five suppliers were initially selected for inclusion, with two
       eliminated after the first round of each presentations. A third supplier was
       eliminated after visits to supplier sites for technical demonstrations.
      Reference site visits have been completed, with two visits per supplier to local
       authorities in the North East.
      A decision will be made by end of Apriland contract negotiations are expected
       to conclude soon afterwards.
      Installation of the new telephony system will be completed in County Hall by
       July 2011 and in the outlying sites by September 2011.

When the new system is installed, it will be using up-to-date technology that will be
supported by the manufacturer. The new system will be software driven and will
facilitate remote support by officers based at their desks, removing the travel time
and expense associated with the current system. Additional benefits will be an
efficient customer services managed contact centre which is configurable by that
department removing the need for Ict involvement in this regard.

Although a final decision has yet to be made on the preferred supplier, savings in the
range of £49,000 - £80,000 per annum will be made on maintenance charges.

The new telephony system will allow all intra-Council telephone calls to be routed
through Northnet. The true value of savings through this reduction in call charges
will not be known until after the installation is complete, but it is anticipated there will
be a further reduction.

MS Desktop & Collaboration

In order to improve the way in which we work, help break down the ‘silo structures’
and to embrace joined up working, it is essential that we embrace the concept of
collaborative working across the organisation and beyond. To address this,
theproject approved by the Council Executive was to deliver a corporate roll out and
development of the SharePoint collaboration products.

Early discovery work for the project soon identified a roll-out of Sharepoint alone
would deliver restricted benefits without making use of the additional functionality

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offered by the latest version of Microsoft Office. As a consequence, the project
scope was changed significantly to include an upgrade to Microsoft Office 2010.

Again it quickly became apparent that it would be a wasted opportunity to perform a
major upgrade to the Office suite without also upgrading every Council workstation
operating system to Windows 7 and Internet Explorer to version 8.The project scope
was increased again to include the full desktop upgrade and the associated
requirement to test all applications for compatibility with a new desktop image.
Planning work was well underway to deliver department by department, in parallel
with the testing of applications.

Advice from the Departmental Security Officer highlighted a need to secure laptops
in a number of ways, including the encryption of the hard disk. Windows 7 has an
inbuilt method of achieving this with the ‘Bitlocker’ component. The latest scope
change for the project is to include encryption and to amend the rollout schedule to
deliver an upgrade to all laptops in advance of desktops. This approach was
approved by the ICT Board on 11 January 2011.

Progress to Date

      The Sharepoint environment is commissioned and available to any Office
       2010 user.
      Training materials have been developed for Sharepoint, MS Word, and MS
       Excel and MS Outlook. The training is performed on-line, with the assistance
       of downloadable Quick Reference guides.
      Fine tuning of the roll-out process, testing of the training materials and
       validation of the new environment will take place as part of a pilot installation
       in the whole of IS. This will be completed by the end of March.
      The process for testing applications has been formulated, andwork to assess
       compatibility against the known list of used applications is approximately 90%
      Microsoft were engaged for a two week assignment to assist in the planning
       process and to provide industry best practice advice for application testing
       and remediation, build configuration, deployment methods and desktop

The flexible Sharepoint environment will support personalised portals for staff
augmenting the intranet and providing storage and collaborative work environments
for staff. Additionally, management information and performance information can be
developed and presented in real time within this environment helping management in
terms of information provision.

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Upgrading the MS Office environment to the latest version, mitigates a risk of the
current Office 2003 installation being removed from support by Microsoft in 2012.

Windows 7 allows customised lockdown of the desktop environment, giving the
Council the ability to comply with the requirements of the GCSX Code of Connection.

Encryption of workstation hard disks will secure any personal data held there.

Windows 7 has sophisticated deployment tools that allow remote management and
delivery of software. This will allow the Council to have a standard desktop build that
is easily updated, reducing the support costs associated with the current non-uniform

Virtualisation and Data Centre Rationalisation

The authority has 140 Intel servers running the Council’s core applications. These
are split across seven sites making them difficult to manageand support. Most of the
servers are at least three years old, many of these being much older.

This project is to virtualise most of the environment reducing the server farm down to
approximately thirty large servers. This will provides savings from cooling costs and
power consumption as well as reducing support needs. Linked to this it is proposed
that the seven existing data centres are rationalised down into two, providing
resilience and reduced support needs.

Progress to Date
    SCC specialists were employed to work with NCC technical staff to design the
      virtual servers.The new servers have been installed,commissioned and tested
      according to the agreed design.
    A number of non-critical test and development servers have been migrated to
      the new servers.
    Virtualisation of the physical servers in County Hall is scheduled for
      completion before the end of April.
    Virtualisation of the physical servers in non-County Hall sites is scheduled for
      completion by end May.


      The project will consolidate space across all of the current Data Centres,
       centralising in County Hall and with a Disaster Recovery site.
      The project reduces the requirements for expensive Third Party Disaster
       Recovery Service.
      The project will allow more effective system management, giving early sight of
       problems and improved service availability.
      The project will deliver reduced support overheads supporting the IS Service
       transformation plans.

Report Author: Steve Somerfield Head of Information Services   v1.0   Page 5 of 11
      The final data has yet to be collated, but the annual savings are in the region
          o £20,000 per annum for hardware maintenance
          o £34,000 per annum in electricity (assuming £0.10 per KW). This
              equates to200 Tonnes per of CO2 per annum.

ORACLE Hardware

The current Oracle systems sit on an aging and expensive hardware environment.

This project will replace the infrastructure with one that is cheaper to maintain, will
support virtualisation and drive down licensing and third party support costs.

Progress to Date
    A procurement process was undertaken, led by SCC under the Sprint II
      framework.      Comparing the original pricing with the price paid, the
      procurement process resulted in a 39% saving.
    The ORACLE servers have been installed and configured.
    A schedule has been agreed for migration of applications from the old
      infrastructure to the new. This is planned for completion by June 2011.

   The new infrastructure costs £91,000 less per annum in hardware
       maintenance charges.
   The new infrastructure is estimated to save £6,400 per annum in electricity
       costs (assuming £0.10 per KW), the equivalent of 34.5 tonnes of CO 2.
   The new system will be considerably faster than the old, improving system
       response times and increasing staff productivity.

Backup Improvements

The current system allows for a backup of data on a daily basis. The quantity of data
means that the backups do not always complete overnight, resulting in incomplete
back up sets.

The project will deliver a modern backup solution that eliminates any duplicate
information and only backs up unique and changed data.

Progress to Date
    SCC specialists have been employed to work with NCC technical staff to
      design the backup solution.

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      SCC will run the procurement process under the Sprint II framework to ensure
       the project achieves best value for money.

   The project will deliver a resilient and scalable backup system.
   Improved speed de-duplication technology, means backups will complete
       overnight and will give the Council an assured backup status.

Cabling and Switches

Three cabling and switch projects were included in the programme of work. These
projects are closely related and involve the increase of speed and reliability of the
County Hall network infrastructure to improve the productivity of staff.

The three projects are:
    Replace Data Centre Switches
    Replace Building Communication Cabinets
    Replace Building Cabling

The network switches in both the Data Centre and the communication cabinets
situated throughout the building were aging, expensive to maintain and did not have
any further expansion capacity. These are being replaced by faster, smaller, more
reliable and more energy efficient switches with the capacity for expansion.

The cabling within County Hall was not capable of delivering the level of service and
capacity generated by modern applications. The existing cabling will be tested and
then replaced as necessary.

Progress to Date
    Works have started to replace the County Hall cabling infrastructure. This is
      happening overnight to minimise disruption to staff.
    Refurbishing the communication cabinets throughout the building started mid-
      March and will complete by early May. This will include the provision of UPS
      backed switches to provide resilience of service to the desktop.
    A procurement process for the purchase of switches was undertaken, led by
      SCC under the Sprint II framework. A specification was written by NCC staff
      with technical input from SCC.
    SCC specialists have been employed to work with NCC technical staff to
      design the new network environment.
    Works are underway to upgrade the cabling within the Data Centre and to
      provide a transitional environment where the new core switches are attached
      to the old. The new switches were delivered in the week commencing 21

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      Migration of users to the new core will conclude when the communication
       cabinet refurbishment has been completed. Migration of servers to the new
       core will be approximately 80% complete by the end of April.

The project will deliver a more resilient and secure network environment, with
separated networks for systems management, backup and access. There will be
capacity for expansion to meet either additional users within County Hall or the
provision of shared services.

The projects will deliver 1 Gigabit per second to the desktop,which is approximately
200 times quicker than the current environment and is necessary for the telephony

Network speed within the Data Centre will improve from a current maximum of 2
Gigabits per second to 10 Gigabits per second.

These improvements also facilitate the better use of technologies such as video
communications, reducing the need to travel between sites, saving both money and

Programme Governance

The Programme and component projects are run according to the principles of
PRINCE 2, a structured method for effective project management which is the de
facto standard for UK government.

The Programme Board represents the business, user and supplier interests of the
programme. The Board is appointed to provide overall direction and management of
the programme and is accountable for its success. The Board members are
responsible for commitment of resources to the Programme, such as personnel,
cash and equipment. The Board consists of three roles:
       Executive
       Senior User
       Senior Supplier
The Investment Programme Board meets every two weeks and reports monthly to
the ICT Board.

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The budget figure for the projects in the financial summary table below shows the
approved                    budget                     less                 10%.

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                           Total      Current Expected          Expenditure Anticipated          Anticipated                  Slippage
                                     Expected                                                                  Underspend
Project Description      Project       Gross     Net                  As At       Gross Cost      Variance     at 31-Mar-11   at 31-
                                       Cost    Budget                                                                         Mar-11
                          Costs       2010/11  2010/11            40,631.00       To 31-Mar-     at 31-Mar-
                                                                                      11             11
                             £           £            £                 £             £               £             £            £

IT Investment -           684,000      684,000      684,000       330,110.25            54,000      -630,000       353,890    -630,000
IT Investment -
Infrastructure and
& Data Centre and         252,000      252,000      252,000       146,221.60           236,000       -42,000       105,778     -42,000
IT Investment -           126,000      126,000      126,000       149,747.90           122,000        -4,000        -23,748     -4,000
Oracle Infrastructure
IT Investment -           135,000      135,000      135,000           11,220.40        126,000        -9,000       123,780      -9,000
Backup System
IT Investment -
Switch and Cabling
& Communication
Report Author: Steve Somerfield Head of Information Services   v1.0    Page 10 of 11
& Building Cable          918,000      918,000      918,000       762,934.87          918,000    -15,000   155,065    -15,000
IT Investment -           285,000      285,000      285,000       100,118.00          280,000     -5,000   184,882     -5,000
Programme Office

TOTAL ICT               2,400,000 2,400,000 2,400,000           1,500,353.02      1,736,000     -705,000   899,647   -705,000

Report Author: Steve Somerfield Head of Information Services   v1.0   Page 11 of 11

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