City of Stratford migrates to improve security, save cash

For the City of Stratford it’s out with the old and in with thenew, as far as upgrading their IT infrastructure is concerned.

Stratford recently migrated from an almost decade-old MicrosoftWindows NT 4.0 Server to Windows Server 2003, in order to improvesecurity, long-term support and reduce operating costs.

The City worked with Mississauga-based Microsoft partnerMetafore IT Solutions to implement the upgrade, said Ron Roy,manager of information technology services with the City ofStratford.

“It’s something that you do once, and you don’t have to do itagain,” Roy said. “We brought Metafore on to use their expertise inthat type of migration work, and they helped get us started on howwe could administer and work with the system.”

Hilary Wittmann, product manager for Windows Server at MicrosoftCanada, said that about a year ago when discussions for the projectbegan Stratford wanted to optimize their existing servers, and theywanted to know what their options were to ensure city residentswere being served by the best technology that wouldn’t take as longto manage.

“They were running legacy systems, meaning they were no longersupported by Microsoft,” said Wittmann. “They had a number ofservers and it was quite expensive.”

“The number one reason why (Stratford) did the upgrade was thefact that we were an old NT 4.0 shop and support had run out,” saidRoy. “The concern about long-term support was part of what promptedthe upgrade, and one of the benefits resulting from the migrationwill be cost-savings.”

It’s not something they have an absolute dollar figure on, butbecause the municipality has a small support staff, going to a moreintegrated solution means they don’t have to worry about needingadditional staff, or even part-time assistance, according toRoy.

“That’s where we see a specific savings, with the upgrade aswell as going to the virtual server, we saw physical cash savingsof two servers basically,” he said. “That’s primarily where we sawa return on investments, because the servers have been consolidatedfrom three to one, and nothing had to be replaced as they were ableto work within the existing infrastructure.”

An additional benefit is the improvement to security, andWittmann said the key improvement was Active Directory, part ofWindows Server. “It enables a single directory for all their usersin their organization.”

Wittmann anticipates the next wave of upgrades in themunicipality space will come in the form of a migration fromWindows 2000 and Exchange 2000 to Windows 2003.

“If you look at municipalities, budgets are really tight andit’s all about improving quality of service,” she said.”(Municipalities) should follow Stratford’s lead and look atVirtual Server as a way to have a backup and recovery strategywithout having to go out and purchase the expensive hardware andequipment associated with it.”

Virtual Server is included in the City of Stratford’s upgrade,and it essentially virtualizes their environment, and was part oftheir disaster recovery strategy, she said.

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