Surf Lifesaving Australia signs on Fujitsu for IT overhaul

"Saves Tim Saves Lives" project progresses with migration to Fujitsu infrastructure-as-a-service

Surf Lifesaving Australia (SLSA) has extended its partnership with Fujitsu, moving its core IT systems to the computing giant’s infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform.

The organisation is mid-way through the establishment of a new IT system to streamline its business processes under its “Saves Time Saves Lives” project announced last year.

The $4.4 million project, funded by a Federal Government grant in 2008, aims to improve the organisation’s service levels and help it to expand the business and communications applications used by its 155,000 national members, staff and 5000 volunteers.

SLSA’s national IT manager, Gary Daly, told Computerworld Australia the overhauled IT system would sit on the company’s IaaS platform.

“We’ve just started to provision the production environment for the portal, but we’re also doing a voice recognition application which is the first application to actually be provisioned,” Daly said. “It allows our volunteer lifesavers, lifeguards and support operations like jet skis, to log on, do progressive rescues and log off over the phone rather than clogging up the radio network with mundane things.

“When you’ve got 50 clubs trying to do it all at the same time, it clogs it up a bit.”

The deal builds on the organisation’s existing relationship with Fujitsu which provided a centralised operational data store (CODS) hosted by Fujitsu’s Data centre Web Hosting services. The reporting application provided SLSA with a single national view of its data, applications, members’ portal and voice recognition and telephony services to enable on-beach access to services.

Daly said the migration of all data would be completed by mid-July this year, following a risk analysis process.

“We’ve also done a lot of work around the cost-benefit of owning and hosting it ourselves and a Cloud solution is far and away the better option for use by financially and in a risk management perspective.”

Other options explored included Telstra’s own infrastructure platform, codenamed ‘Silver Lining’.

“The [Fujitsu] solution is in the order of between $200,000-$300,000 per annum and consists of 20 to 30 virtualised servers. To do that ourselves would be a significant capital cost that we couldn’t really afford.”

With 43,000 patrolling volunteer lifesavers, one of the greatest challenges for SLSA is reducing the amount of time required for the administration of clubs and services, Daly said.

“The new Fujitsu Cloud infrastructure will allow us to address these efficiency requirements as well as the increasing need to provide broader and better services; and to collect more data for internal management, government reporting and public education programs. The cloud solution helps us overcome the severe limitations on the dollars we have to spend on IT.”

The ability to scale up and down with the Cloud service will also be key, Daly said, with the summer months always proving a much busier time of year for the organisation with more members to manage and beachgoers making the most of the warmer months.

The final phase of the project will include a review of the organisation’s legacy systems and is projected for completion by June 2012.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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