Halton Borough Council aims to improve the lives of its citizens, with services from public transport and libraries through to social care and education. Many of its services are central to the lives of vulnerable people in the area.
The council uses a growing number of IT systems to deliver key services effectively and efficiently. From an IT team perspective, that means rolling out an increasing number of applications, upgrades and patches, on a more and more frequently basis.
Ensuring that data was backed up properly became an increasing concern, because of the impact an outage could have for the most vulnerable citizens. “It’s absolutely essential that our systems stay online, whether that’s the lifelines that protect the elderly in their homes or social care applications that help look after children,” noted Pat Oliver, Divisional Manager – Hardware & Software. “I need to be able to sleep at night, knowing that if an issue occurs, we can fix it very quickly.”
Growing storage demands were making backup more challenging. “We’ve had an explosion in the amount of data that the council holds,” continued Pat Oliver. Completing backups and restores was a significant resource drain for the team of seven, with one person working full time on backups which weren’t always reliable. “Every morning we had to check whether the backups had taken place correctly. And when there were errors, we had to make a judgement call on whether we could leave it for the day or repeat the backup during working hours and damage network performance. It was incredibly frustrating.”
Halton Borough Council needed a backup solution that could cope with the growing IT infrastructure, delivering reliable backups without draining vital resources. Peace of mind about data availability, recoverability and reliability is essential – especially with the introduction of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Crucially, with increasingly tight budgets the Council needed its IT Department to improve the quality and efficiency of the digital services it delivers – be that in healthcare, welfare or education – to ensure they are always available and delivering the best citizen engagement.
In the summer of 2018, the IT team rolled out 2,000 virtual desktops across the authority to support the centralisation of IT. That meant that the IT team could roll out updates and patches remotely, without sending out engineers every time an application needed to be updated. This virtualisation process required a large amount of storage, and Pat Oliver realised the team was struggling to back everything up reliably. It was time to look for a new backup solution.
A member of the team had used Veeam before and had a really positive experience of the platform’s reliability and ease of use. After reviewing a number of reference case studies about the value that Veeam had brought to other organisations, the team decided to install Veeam Backup & Replication in September 2018. The implementation was very straightforward, and the team found the system easy to learn.
Using Veeam has enabled the team to reduce the time spent on backups from five days a week to two days a week. Annually, this equates to an extra 156 working days and over £12,000 saved in labour costs which have now been freed up and can be spent on other digital initiatives to enhance citizen engagement. Now team members who spent all day on backups are available to support with the roll out of the virtual infrastructure. Pat Oliver notes, “From my point of view as a manager, now I have more resource.”
For Pat Oliver and the team, the main benefit has been peace of mind. “Now we know that if someone has lost data and needs it back, we can restore it for them. With Veeam DataLabs functionality, we spend much less time worrying about whether backups have worked, and more time supporting the vital work of the council.”
Halton Borough Council is a local authority in Cheshire, which covers the towns of Daresbury, Hale, Moore, Preston Brook, Runcorn and Widnes. Serving 130,000 inhabitants, the council delivers critical services including social care, education, public transport and recycling. With 4,000 employees, Halton Borough Council is committed to improving life and caring for the most vulnerable in the area.
Halton Borough Council is using IT to improve how citizens access services and systems underpinning its operations. The IT team is tasked with keeping everything running smoothly while servicing an ever-increasing volume of applications, upgrades and patches. Reliable backup is vital for protecting the critical services that the council delivers. Crucially, at a time when budgets are extremely tight, the Council need an IT solution which will deliver operational efficiencies longterm.