When you’re in charge of delivering water to 2.5 million customers a day and moving wastewater through 39,594 km of sewers, it takes more than just pipes and plumbing to meet demands: It takes a resilient IT infrastructure.
Case in point: Southern Water, one of England’s largest water authorities, needed a more resilient IT infrastructure, so they turned to MTI and Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) for an airtight solution. Now, they can continue to ensure water and wastewater gets where it needs to go, while moving IT transformation initiatives forward to deploy new IT services quickly, consistently, and securely.
MTI is a technology services and solutions provider with operations across the UK, France, and Germany. Its unique combination of IT transformation and cybersecurity expertise helps thousands of organizations leverage the latest technologies to modernize their IT operations, reduce operating costs and increase agility, while mitigating risk. MTI is a Sungard AS partner, and one of only two Dell EMC Titanium partners in the UK.
Southern Water’s service area spans East and West Sussex, Hampshire, Kent and the Isle of Wight, so meeting the needs of its customer base is daunting enough. But as a UK utility, Southern Water must meet Ofwat requirements, the Water Services Regulation Authority that oversees privatized companies in this sector—from monitoring their financial health to measuring how effectively they deliver services and interact with customers.
Key to delivering those services is the IT environment supporting nearly 4,500 telemetry boxes as they monitor water flow 24/7 across Southern Water’s service area. The boxes transmit data about leaks or other abnormalities that could affect both the delivery and quality of water supplied, so the IT infrastructure behind them must be highly resilient.
If a consumer calls to report a leak or other incident, Southern Water also has a regulatory obligation to process those cases extremely quickly, so the systems that support call center operations must be highly available. To meet the strict standards of security regulators, customer data housed in those systems needs the highest level of protection.
Lee Nolan, Chief Technology Officer at MTI, says increasing resilience and data protection were critical components of the utility’s IT transformation initiatives. “Southern Water has already digitized a lot of their customer services. So, from an IT perspective, their goal was to improve resilience and security, while continuing to automate operations wherever possible.”
The project was awarded in October 2018, and the team worked to implement the new environment by the end of March 2019—when Southern Water’s contract with its former vendor expired.
MTI and Dell EMC designed and configured the private cloud infrastructure, a hyper-converged VxRail architecture that integrates compute, network, storage and virtualization resources to accelerate scalability and data center modernization.
Sungard AS colocation services include hardened, enterprise-class data center facilities with the heating, cooling, power, network connectivity and redundancy required for always-on operations.
To maximize resilience, Sungard AS installed the hardware infrastructure in two geographically separated data center facilities—London and Hounslow. Critical applications are split between the locations, including those supporting telemetry and call center operations, as well as SAP, Microsoft Exchange and Oracle solutions.
Sungard AS cloud transformation consultants helped Southern Water’s internal team migrate workloads. A Dell EMC Data deduplication storage system backs up data, while synchronous, bi-directional replication between the two data centers ensures data protection and faster recovery if a disruption occurs.
The team worked hard to manage the pressures of a compressed schedule. “Because of the partnership between MTI and Sungard AS, and our ability to be agile with regard to contractual and commercial arrangements, we met Southern Water’s very tight, very demanding deadline,” says Lee.
A web portal now provides Southern Water with visibility and control over the environment, where they can dynamically change services and provision new resources during peak times for consistent application performance throughout the year. They can flexibly apply computing resources wherever they are required and automate service operations across the company.
“The new cloud environment enables Southern Water to present a service catalog back to the business that allows services to be spun up almost instantaneously, with just a click. So, they can reduce the number of individuals they need from an IT operations perspective and have far more agile, fast and consistently secure service operations,” Lee says.
“What used to take many weeks to deploy, now takes just seconds,” he continues. “It massively speeds up their development cycles, allowing them to release new services to market much sooner. It’s a great foundation that can really take them into the future.”
In addition, Sungard AS manages the data center facilities, providing 24/7 operational support and proactive monitoring for physical security, problem prevention and resilient, SLA-backed services.
“Sungard AS brought a flexible, customer-centric, can-do attitude into the engagement that was really refreshing,” Lee concludes. “This was no ‘drive-by’ sale. Instead, Sungard AS built a genuine, deep, long-term partnership that worked really well for us and really well for Southern Water.” To learn more, read the complete MTI Southern Water case study.