The Client Located in South Wales and created in 1996, Neath Port Talbot Council (NPTC) provides services for close to 145,000 citizens. Committed to delivering them in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, its Digital Strategy 2018-2022 sets out how it will leverage new technologies to encourage a ‘smart and connected’ community.
An ‘IT infrastructure that’s fit for the digital age’ is critical to its forward-looking strategy and lies at the heart of enabling service change and collaboration. Its Digital First approach will support citizen access to an increasing range of online services and information. Data science and analysis will also play a pivotal role in stimulating innovation and providing the agility and mobility needed to transform how citizens and businesses interact with the council.
- Location: South Wales
- Population: circa 150,000
- Digital Strategy: encourage a smart and connected community
For NPTC to achieve its ambition of delivering transformational change through technological innovation it needs access to a resilient, secure and high-performing IT infrastructure. “We have exciting plans about improving services, driving efficiencies and changing the way we interact with people and businesses over the next few years,” said Jules Payne, NPTC Head of Digital Operations. “To achieve this, we needed to look again at how we do things and ensure our IT infrastructure is capable of delivering the performance to match our transformative ambitions.”
“Our existing backup technologies were approaching end of life; licensing was up for renewal and due to the increasing cyber security threat, we needed a solution that was both performant and offered data immutability. We were also mindful of the changing nature of today’s cyber-threat landscape. With home and remote working becoming increasingly BaU activities in the post-pandemic workplace, we needed a solution that would both minimise security vulnerabilities and underpin our ambition of encouraging Agile collaboration and working practices.”
Softcat has a dedicated team specialising in fulfilling public sector engagements in line with the devolved Welsh Government’s wider digital strategy. Chris Owen, NPTC CDO, had worked with Softcat in a previous Government role and was aware of its capabilities in the sector. Softcat had also collaborated on an earlier Microsoft project for NPTC. “Although we had a clear view of what we needed and had looked at alternative technology providers ourselves, it made sense to hear what Softcat had to say before we made a decision,” said Jules. “We knew it could provide multiple options from a diverse range of vendors and would help secure an ideal solution from both a practical and strategic perspective.”
Critical success factors
- Ensure IT infrastructure capacity aligns with wider Smart and Connected Digital Strategy
- Respond to evolving cyber threats and vulnerabilities
- Source alternative backup technology provider
“Once we began working with NPTC we employed a classic cycle of Discovery, Design and Implement,” said Manon Wigley, Local Government Account Manager at Softcat, “At all times, however, our work was underpinned by our in-depth understanding of the Welsh Government’s digital strategy. We knew that the solution was about much more than just a particular technology choice. It was about simplifying and consolidating the backup environment and establishing an IT infrastructure capable of driving modernisation, enhancing agility and improving services.”
“Softcat provided plenty of information, ran demos to illustrate capabilities and fundamentally enabled us to make an informed choice on the best backup technology to implement alongside our re-engineered IT architecture,” said Jules. “A solution built on Rubrik technologies would provide all of the functionality, resilience and performance we need going forward.
“Softcat was also aware of our ambitions to more effectively use data to improve services. It provided guidance around consolidating datacentre provision and ensuring robust data policies and protection would be supported by the Rubrik solution.”
A Rubrik specialist came on site to implement the solution and throughout the project, close contact was maintained with Softcat and Rubrik to help ensure a suitable configuration for NPTC’s specific needs.
“Although some on-site kit was needed, most of the implementation occurred remotely and was completed by Rubrik in a day or so with little or no disruption to services,” said Jules. “Softcat worked closely with Rubrik to establish a landing zone and designate ongoing activities. Both providers had a clear understanding of our existing application sets, SQL databases and O365 data. Extensive work went into configuring the solution to ensure all essential data could be easily and quickly recovered in a clean state if corrupted.”
The communication channels established during the project have been maintained through Microsoft Teams and other collaborative platforms. This helps ensure the solution configuration can be adjusted, if needed, in response to newly identified challenges and threats as part of the 60-month support package.
“Our service users demand robust security,” said Jules. “We hold a lot of sensitive data and with the Rubrik solution in place, we’re confident it can’t be compromised. It delivers immutable backups that guarantee data recovery in the event of an issue. It not only protects our data, but ensures we have uncorrupted information to help understand our residents’ needs and preferences. We can then use that data to inform and stimulate new innovations in service delivery.”
- Recommendations in line with wider digital strategy for Wales
- Rubrik professional services set up and 24/7/365 technical support
- Industry-leading Rubrik technologies: Eight Rubrik Nodes, Rubrik Cloud Data Management, NAS Direct Archive 30TB, O365 Backup.
“As data harnessing to improve digital service delivery becomes an increasingly embedded function in how we and other local government providers operate, having access to a resilient and secure IT infrastructure is absolutely essential,” said Jules. “Our CDO and the wider digital team are working to deliver a new model for digital services and the Rubrik solution provides the performance and capabilities we’ll need to make that aspect of it a success.
“From a reputational perspective, it’s critical that service users have trust in how we store, process and use data. We now have the robust security protocols in place to protect our systems from cyber threats, be compliant with National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) guidance and provide peace of mind to our users. The solution is just one part of a clearly defined strategy we’re putting in place for the future.
“A Rubrik solution was by no means the cheapest option, yet we view it as strategic investment. Softcat ensured that we achieved a great price on the deal. The total cost of ownership (TCO) over the life of the agreement is tremendous value in light of the capabilities it delivers and Rubrik will cover the cost of any disruption caused by cyber-attacks. Rubrik’s automated features free up valuable time to concentrate on other tasks. As a team, that combination of high-performance, robust SLAs and a productive vendor-client relationship means we can face the future with confidence.”
Benefits at a glance
- Robust data security solution to support future digital strategy
- Time-savings for digital team; peace of mind for users
- Great value TCO; productive ongoing vendor-client relationship
“Softcat brings a deep understanding of the local marketplace to every engagement,” said Jules. “It gave us confidence that its recommendations would deliver enhanced efficiency and security, while helping us align with the Welsh Government’s wider digital strategy. Its dedicated team have extensive technical and strategic knowledge, delivers on its promises and is always on hand when you need it.”