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Suffolk County Council Case Study

"It’s an absolute credit to Claremont’s ethos that support has continued in such a professional way."

Mike Jackaman
IT Business Manager, Suffolk County Council

Suffolk County Council is a long-term user of Oracle technology, with established and mature databases supporting many of its critical systems.

BACKGROUND

Suffolk County Council (SCC) is the administrative authority for the county of Suffolk, in East England. The council provides support and services to approximately 750,000 residents in areas such as education, care, culture, leisure, public safety and transport.

Suffolk County Council is a long-term user of Oracle technology, with established and mature databases supporting many of its critical systems. In the last ten years, the public sector has been subject to demanding budget cuts and Suffolk County Council has been faced with significant challenges to maintain support for critical services to the local community. In 2017, it was clear that under-supported systems required a Managed Services approach and technical support from an experienced external provider. 


THE BUSINESS CHALLENGE

Suffolk County Council’s Oracle infrastructure was extremely complex requiring specialised support. Along with Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS), over 50 Oracle databases underpinned critical applications. These not only supported Finance and HR, they also supported nearly 5,000 students of the University of Suffolk and Highways Management. Maintaining a highly qualified in-house IT team continued to present challenges, resulting in the Council making the key decision to outsource the support needed from an experienced Oracle specialist who could work with critical live environments and provide a stable Managed Service soluti on.


THE SOLUTION

Claremont was recommended to Suffolk County Council and the relationship delivered both short and long-term benefits. During the first few weeks, Claremont took a flexible approach to the engagement and transition process, fast-tracking certain aspects to ensure instant support under challenging circumstances. Understanding the urgent nature of the project, the team swiftly and efficiently provided the necessary technical support to maintain continuity of critical databases.

A phased “ramp-up” and pragmatic approach meant that Claremont and the Council’s staff could work together and ensure essential services, supporting the people of Suffolk, remained uninterrupted. Throughout the following year, an experienced team of Oracle Database Administrators (DBAs) began to analyse the existing Oracle infrastructure and identify ways in which it might perform even more efficiently.

During the onboarding period in 2017, SCC also had an urgent requirement to undertake a full database version upgrade across all Oracle systems. Claremont successfully worked with the council enabling them to manage and complete the upgrade, a project which had to run in parallel to onboarding.


THE BUSINESS BENEFITS

The public sector has to respond to constant change. Therefore, any long-term partnership with a service provider has to be flexible and add value. For the last two years, Claremont’s team of DBAs have continued to support the Council’s critical systems through the Managed Service, attaining over 99% compliance with the service level agreements (SLA), which also included an SLA for incident resolution.

Within the last year, a project has also simplified the over- engineered and complicated Oracle architecture, unpicking layers of complexity and upgrading out-of-date technology. One of the key aspects of this project involved migrating approximately 50 databases, both live and test environments, off Oracle RAC (Real Application Clusters) and onto single node instances.

While Oracle RAC has its place in ensuring high availability, it had become unnecessarily complex for SCC and needed to be simplified. As a result, Claremont provided Suffolk County Council with a more efficient and cost-effective Oracle infrastructure, while also enhancing flexibility and scalability.

While this project is a large undertaking in the short-term, in the long-term, decommissioning RAC will make managing critical systems far easier. Importantly, a simpler infrastructure costs far less to support and gives the Council an opportunity to review software licencing costs; in some cases, this has the potential to halve current licensing spend. As the project progresses, Claremont continues to adapt to Suffolk County Council’s business needs.

Rather than using the existing servers, a brand-new server solution was built; on it, Claremont took the opportunity to re- architect the Council’s Oracle databases for further efficiencies and at the same time providing even smoother integrated support.

From an urgent need, Claremont has built a lasting relationship with Suffolk County Council. Current essential services remain uninterrupted thanks to an efficient and flexible Managed Service solution. Yet in the background, projects are underway to ensure the infrastructure is future-fit. Claremont and Suffolk County Council continue to work together, saving costs and improving services to make sure the people of Suffolk are supported for years to come.

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