Redland City Council tackles IT outages with modular data centre

Goal to reduce weather-related outages, increase energy efficiency, and maintain services.

By Jennifer O'Brien
June 5, 2017



Henderson said outdated technology prompted council to adopt the modular data centre approach.

"We currently have two data centres which have been progressively built over the last 20  to 30 years and have been built up in a very snowball-like fashion. They weren't designed to provide the level of redundancy and resiliency that we need, and they were also getting quite expensive to operate and very inefficient," he said, explaining asset management was also difficult to control.

Certainly, Redland faces several challenges, particularly in terms of connectivity and remote locations. And unlike other governments taking up a cloud-first approach - or being aggressive on cloud adoption - that scenario didn't make sense for Redland.

"We're in this disruptive environment in and around cloud at the moment. Some of the challenges with Redland is that we aren't very well connected into the city so jumping head first into cloud wasn't really an option for us. We don't have the connectivity to do that at a reasonable price point. So we decided to implement a modular data centre that is purpose built and stand-alone."

But council can now move to cloud at its own pace. "The benefits for us means we can progress to cloud over the period that our city is connected, and then not be heavily reliant or stuck with datacentre capability into the future. We can literally sell the datacentre at a later date or use it for something else."

He said council is adopting a hybrid cloud environment, and urged other local government CIOs to adopt similar moves.

"I would certainly be researching the hybrid environment. Cloud is great, but some of the local government platforms don't allow you to be fewer-cloud. So having that hybrid environment, but selecting in it very carefully (and making sure you aren't overinvesting in either tranche) and that you're providing that connectivity and integration between them, is certainly important."


Next steps 

Asked his next steps, Henderson said IoT is on the radar, particularly as it relates to 'smart cities,' and the adoption of the modular data centre will help in that vein. 

For example, the design will include a partitioned wall between the modular data centre and additional space in the facility - this can easily be taken down or adjusted as the council needs to scale up its infrastructure as it rolls out 'smart city' initiatives.

Council is also looking at how it can make utilities management systems smart and promote the idea of innovation hubs to support entrepreneurs and small businesses in the community.

Additionally, IoT will help council deal with the ongoing challenges of connectivity, he noted. 

"Certainly, IoT is high on the list. We have a lot of islands. They have very little connectivity so to provide your wide area RF networks to those sorts of islands, and have that interconnectivity and resiliency as well back to our own inner city data centre, is going to be really helpful to provide the vast amount of emergency, management and municipal services to the islands as well."

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