The NSW Office of State Revenue (OSR) has slashed its annual telecommunications costs by around $200,000 and increased network performance between its two data centres by 100 times due partly to new virtual network infrastructure.
The OSR has begun deploying Avaya Virtual Network Enterprise Architecture (VENA) virtualisation software to create a ‘network fabric’ between two data centres to make them appear as one to simplify network management and improve service for users.
The virtual network has enabled the OSR to reduce the number of links between its business partners in Sydney, and improve network performance between its production and disaster recovery data centre locations from 100Mbps to 10Gbps.
It has also prompted the department to renegotiate contracts with carriers, resulting in a 16 per cent reduction in telecommunications costs from $1.2 million in the 2010/11 financial year to $1 million for the year ending June 30, 2012.
“The government wants us to reduce operations costs by 15 per cent and the virtual network infrastructure is providing the foundation for us to do this,” Prakash Sakya, deputy director, Infrastructure Branch, Information Services Business Unit, NSW Office of State Revenue told CIO.
Achieving near zero data loss
Almost 90 per cent of the $18 billion in revenue collected by the OSR each year is transacted electronically. Consequently, the department needs to provide highly available network infrastructure that ensures it can minimise potential data loss if a server fails at one of its data centres.
According to Sakya, the OSR was previously equipped to deal with two hours’ worth of data loss as systems were brought back online after a production site failure. However, as the number of electronic transactions has increased, the department needed to significantly reduce this window.
Sakya said that although the department had not experienced any incidents which resulted in significant downtime, it needed to take a more “proactive approach” to DR.
The organisation will do this by extending Avaya VENA to its existing virtual server infrastructure, which was created using VMware virtualisation technology. By December, the department expects to finish building virtual network clusters at its production and disaster recovery sites, to provide visibility over its network services at both locations as if they are in the same data centre.
It expects to achieve “near zero” data loss following a major disaster (site failure) when the virtual network rollout is complete. Sakya said having a more “transparent network” between both sites would eliminate the need for users to wait up to four hours for core business systems to be recovered after a site failure. These systems are used to administer state taxes and process fines and penalties and run in a virtual server environment.
“Without Avaya VENA underlying [the network], we would not be positioned to automatically recover from a site failure; we would have to spend time doing manual scripting, which is the reason it can take four hours [to get systems back online],” said Sakya.
The OSR also plans to deploy the EMC V-Plex virtual storage technology, which will enable the company to connect storage clusters across its two locations and treat them like a single pool of storage.