The Ministry of Education (MoE)’s role is to build a world leading education system that equips all New Zealanders with the knowledge, skills and values to be successful citizens in the 21st century. The Ministry directly employs 3,500 staff.
In 2013 the Government provided approximately $12.2 billion to fund education in New Zealand.
The spate of earthquakes centered around Seddon in August last year that also shook Wellington provided the impetus for the Ministry to fast track an audit of the resiliency of its core production systems.
MoE are acutely aware of how essential it to have data secure and in a highly resilient environment. It’s crucial for public sector organisations to have a robust disaster recovery strategy in place.
The audit illustrated vulnerability in the Ministry’s existing data centres and disaster recovery strategy. Its production environment was housed in central Wellington which is subject to the Wellington Fault. The weaknesses identified would impact the Ministry’s ability to recover operations following a major event, creating a substantial risk for the business.
To minimise this risk the Ministry fast-tracked the release of a tender to relocate critical systems to a high-grade purpose-built data centre facility. The organisation wanted to take advantage of the All of Government Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings and find a vendor that had well-operated, reliable, and cost-effective IaaS services hosted in a robust, secure data centre.
Datacom’s Kapua Data Centre in Hamilton was selected as the Ministry’s primary data centre after it became clear that moving to Kapua would significantly reduce the risk for the organisation’s production environment. The Ministry quickly realised Datacom’s Tier 3+ facility would provide them with a flexible and cost-effective service, delivered by an experienced and proven IaaS provider.
Initially the project was designed to be a ‘lift and shift’ of all the Ministry’s racks; however, during planning it was decided to relocate and pre-stage equipment prior to the Easter weekend move. Easter is school holiday time, so an off peak business period for the Ministry and education providers. The four days over Easter allowed for an early install and set up of eight instances of the Datacom leased 48RU racks for the Ministry’s own storage and Tape Library racks. Leading up to the relocation, significant time was invested in planning, pre-staging of equipment, networking, upfront testing of its shared testing environment and communicating with key business owners and other stakeholders. The pre-staging process reduced outage time and risk to the Ministry.
The successful relocation from Wellington to Hamilton was completed with minimal risk and impact to end-users. The Ministry, education providers and other stakeholders were able to continue business as usual straight after the move.
The next steps planned for the Ministry is a lift and shift of its disaster recovery environment to the Datacom Orbit Data Centre in August. Datacom will work with the Ministry to move its ten racks over one weekend.
Datacom delivered data centre relocation consulting services, including the use of power, cables, network connections, and the use of rack cabinets.
Datacom and the Ministry of Education have formed a strong collaborative partnership, whereby both project teams worked closely together, following a detailed implementation plan with clear roles and responsibilities, escalation paths, back out and communication plans.
The Ministry’s experienced project team took the lead in the implementation with both teams’ combined experience on the ground provided the skills, quality assurance and know-how to safely and expediently manage the relocation.
Steve Catlow - Senior Manager, Operations and Infrastructure Services, Ministry of Education