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Technology helps port turn the tide

Technology helps port turn the tide

SITS Group, which is based at Newcastle’s Quorum Business Park originally won the tender to help the Port create a more resilient IT backup and disaster recovery platform across the 600 acre (242.8ha) site.

As part of that project the team went on to assess whether the Port’s server estate was structured efficiently. Experts from SITS Group consultancy team spent four weeks conducting a detailed capacity planning exercise, studying data traffic and patterns of use and subsequently implemented the latest virtualisation technology from VMWare to create a much leaner, more efficient structure, reducing the number of physical servers needed from 28 down to just three.

According to industry experts, the virtualisation market is set to grow by 300%, through organisations looking to cut costs while making better use of resources. One of the spin off benefits of virtualisation is its ability to slash carbon emissions, thanks to lower power, heating and cooling requirements.

“Virtualisation works by combining all the available resources and constantly adjusting usage according to needs dynamically, so that every server is working equally hard and at the correct capacity,” explains Phil Cambers, commercial director of Newcastle-based SITS Group.

“It is a much more intelligent use of resources. For instance, if you have a server dedicated to one task, and that task is only carried out once a day or even once a week, you have a server costing you money by being under-utilised and putting increased pressure on other parts of the network. Having more servers than are truly needed also means a business is exposing itself to too many potential points of failure.

“Virtualisation technology also brings green benefits. The Port’s previous server estate was generating 40 tonnes of CO2 a year but the new structure has reduced that to 15 tonnes – equivalent to taking seven cars off the road every year, and this alone should save the Port over £20,000 in energy costs.”

Ian Blake, IT manager at the Port of Tyne said: “This is a key investment in improving the Port’s IT infrastructure. The driver for the initial project was our need to create a more resilient disaster recovery platform, which would ensure the Port would be unaffected in the event of any disaster or interruption caused by the loss of a server or application being unavailable.

“SITS helped us migrate from a conventional backup system of crucial applications and data to a much more robust structure.

“Virtualisation has already delivered a return on investment by eliminating hidden costs and wasted man hours we were experiencing with tape backup, such as transferring tapes, backup hardware and software licenses. Our IT team is now free to concentrate on developing new technologies to increase the productivity of the business. Customers can expect to see improved efficiency and reliability; if a server fails any lost data can be retrieved within minutes, the data restored to another server and the whole lot up and running within hours,” he said.