Norfolk County Council Delivers Services Faster with NetApp Storage and OnCommand Insight Software

By Lisa Crewe, Sr. Product Marketing Manager


I recently had the opportunity to talk to Owaine Winterborne, Principal Technical Analyst at Norfolk County Council.  He kindly agreed to talk to our customer reference team and discuss how he had been using NetApp technology for the past few years. 


Located in the eastern part of England, the county of Norfolk is home to nearly 900,000 residents. Norfolk County Council is responsible for managing numerous services countywide, from fire and rescue to libraries, children’s services, transportation, adult social services, trading standards, planning, waste management, and more.

As Owain explained, Norfolk County Council has a charter to maximise the value of public services for taxpayers. To operate efficiently, the council relies on a multivendor information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure. In 2011, it was time for a refresh of the entire server infrastructure, including storage, backup, virtualised environments, and Solaris servers running Oracle® and other applications. The goal was to improve and hasten service delivery by upgrading the technologies required to provide services to residents, as well as to local external organizations through shared services contracts. The council needed a storage solution with flexibility, efficiency, and cost effectiveness, as well as the ability to support exceptional storage performance and data growth. The ICT team also needed to gauge the amount of resources each service used.


They decided to build a shared technology resource pool and manage internal services and other organisations’ ICT using NetApp® storage systems and NetApp OnCommand® Insight storage resource management software.


ICT deployed one NetApp® FAS3270HA storage system in production with 432 (raw) terabytes (TB) of data and another NetApp FAS3270 storage system at a secondary site with 237TB of capacity, both running the NetApp Data ONTAP® 8.0.4 architecture operating in 7-Mode. These systems use iSCSI, Fibre Channel, NFS, and CIFS protocols.


NetApp storage solutions and OnCommand Insight allow Norfolk County Council to integrate additional services without adding staff or compromising reliability or performance. Citizens benefit from an enhanced level of service and support with fewer resources competing for public tax dollars.

Norfolk County Council’s agile infrastructure based on NetApp® storage and managed by OnCommand Insight software.


Performance, Resource Usage and Cost Accountability

NetApp OnCommand® Insight software proactively manages multivendor environments and optimises existing and new ICT investments. OnCommand Insight allows ICT to measure and forecast resource usage by different services.


“Because NetApp OnCommand Insight is a multivendor, ‘agentless’ monitoring and reporting platform, we can integrate other organisations’ storage infrastructures as part of a shared services concept. We have better business agility and can help various organisations deliver resident services faster and more efficiently,” said Owain.


With OnCommand Insight, the county can help ensure service availability, resilience, and performance, without the time-consuming need to manually monitor individual management tools. As a result, ICT can support faster delivery of assistance to residents.


With the robust reporting tools of OnCommand Insight, the ICT team can assign a cost for each virtual machine and split it up to determine the resources each department or application has been allocated.  Using reporting in OnCommand Insight, ICT can automate the demonstration of service costs internally to the council or to any organization that is part of a shared services contract. The product has automated discovery and presentation f valuable reporting information, a process that can otherwise be manual, complex, time consuming, and error prone.


Maximised Storage Efficiency

NetApp storage management software tools in use include NetApp Snapshot technology, NetApp SnapMirror® technology, SnapManager® for Microsoft Exchange, SnapManager for Microsoft SQL Server, OnCommand Unified Manager, and NetApp SnapVault® technology. ICT backs up its NFS and CIFS volumes, replicating them to the secondary site using SnapVault. To back up physical servers, ICT uses a number of methods including Open Systems SnapVault and SnapMirror.


NetApp Virtual Storage Console (VSC) for vSphere® gives staff real-time storage visibility into virtual machines, including discovery, health monitoring, capacity management, and disk-based virtual machine and single-file snapshot backup and restore.


The Norfolk County Council also uses thin provisioning to fluidly assign capacity as required, as well as deduplication, to maximise storage efficiency.

Norfolk County enjoys savings of approximately 26% with deduplication, 29% with compression, and almost 63% with thin provisioning. This enables the council to avoid purchasing extra storage and to provide residents with cost-effective services.


The council now has a flexible pool of storage that can be provisioned as needed. Provisioning for a large IT project used to take months; it now takes two weeks. Services can be deployed faster and IT resources are more readily available.


Backup and restore time frames have been reduced dramatically. Previously, restoring even a small 10-gigabyte print server could take an hour. With Virtual Storage Console, it takes less than 10 minutes. Likewise, a 200GB machine now takes 10 minutes instead of a day to restore. With the time saved, staff can focus on returning service availability much faster than before.


The ultimate beneficiaries are residents, because Norfolk County Council can provide more services with fewer resources. The use of NetApp® storage solutions and OnCommand® Insight has equipped the council with a platform to provide and maintain a robust and agile infrastructure.


Many thanks to Owain for sharing his story.  You can download the complete story here,

If you’ve had a success you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you.