Western Australia's Department of Education and Training has signed a $185 million contract with Perth-based IT services outfit Kinetic IT to continue to provide infrastructure services and support.
We have 200 schools that we manage fully end to end. We've got another 600 schools we're targeting.
The seven-year contract, including optional extensions, is worth $185 million to Kinetic and started at the beginning of February. It won't be unfamiliar territory for the Western Australian IT company, however, since it has held a similar contract with the department for the last four years.
Yet a lot has changed over the last four years, according to Glenn Veen, DET manager of infrastructure and telecommunications. When Kinetic signed on in 2003, the department wasn't managing the desktops in its 200 schools under management, he said. Kinetic has been carrying out this work as project work. Under the new contract, the management of these schools will fall under base services.
Veen said the number of schools Kinetic catered for would also increase as the department rolls out standard operating environments out to more schools. "It's got the capacity to grow into a more managed environment. As I said, we have 200 schools that we manage fully end to end. We've got another 600 schools we're targeting," Veen said.
In total, there are 93,000 desktops which fall under the Department's aegis over roughly 1,000 sites, 880 of them schools.
When the currently unmanaged schools have the standard operating environment, tools such as HP's Configuration Manager (which deploys patches and applications) can be rolled out. This saves teacher time which would have otherwise been spent doing the same job.
Kinetic has also offered as part of the contract to move the department onto HP Service Manager 7, a new HP release that integrates a lot of products which the department was already using and adds some additional functionality.
The five HP products that Veen had been using were Network Node Manager, Service Desk, Operations Manager, Performance Insight and Configuration Manager.
Veen knew he was interested in the whole suite of products when he first joined the department earlier this decade, but he also knew the department would have to roll them gradually or it wouldn't find the budget for them. "You needed to have the tools, and that was an argument I had to convince the organisation to do, to invest in the tools at the same time that you invested in the solutions," he said.
The first product Veen implemented was Network Node Manager after Veen rolled out fibre to 75 per cent of the state's schools. It keeps track of performance for the 881 routers and thousands of switches on the department's network — necessary since the department only buys bandwidth for the schools from Telstra, not managed network services. Kinetic manages the network with around six staff, Veen said.
Soon after, he adopted HP's Service Desk since the software the department had been using, Magic Help Desk (now BMC), didn't cover the department's ITIL needs. Service Desk logs calls and keeps track of things such as change and release management.
Thirdly, the department implemented OVO (now Operations Manager) which helped it manage servers and switches in schools. When devices hit their thresholds, Service Desk is notified. Currently the department has 2.5 thousand servers to manage and five major storage area networks, although Veen will be putting out a tender soon to virtualise the latter.
Veen has reduced the number of servers in the administration part of the department from 600 to 250 using VMware. His goal now is to reduce the number of servers in schools: instead of each school having a curriculum and administration server, each school will just have one server, not including media servers. This will bring down the number of servers to around 1,000, he said. There was also the possibility to completely remove servers from primary schools by centralisation made possible via good bandwidth management, Veen said.
Performance Insight came next, which looks into the application layer to see whether there are problems with the applications. The latest deployment was Configuration Manager for rolling out patches and application updates.
With HP Service Manager 7, these products will be more integrated, according to Veen, although he had not yet looked into the extra functionality it would provide.