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Fire and Rescue NSW inks cloud deal with IBM

IBM will be helping Fire and Rescue NSW move its corporate workload to the IBM cloud infrastructure, which is based in the NSW government's datacentre.

Fire and Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) has signed a "multimillion-dollar" five-year agreement with IBM, which will see its mission-critical workloads that support 100,000 staff and volunteers across five agencies in NSW deployed to IBM Cloud.

Up until now, the organisation has hosted all of its mission-critical workloads in-house in two datacentres. But under the new terms of the agreement, IBM will design, build, and run the as-a-service platform, as well as manage the migration of FRNSW corporate workloads, including the emergency services SAP system, Oracle RAC, and its geospatial information to the IBM cloud infrastructure based in the NSW government's datacentre.

Fire and Rescue NSW chief information officer Richard Host said that given FRSW is one of the key agencies involved in the response phase to emergency or disaster events in NSW, it's necessary that the organisation's systems and applications are reliable, scalable, and flexible.

"We understand to leverage scaled efficiencies off someone else, we'll get more bang for buck. Our general trend is to leverage external organisations wherever we can so we're getting the best value for money, obviously for the government and citizens.

"What we didn't want to do [was] the same old thing and go out and buy another bucket load of hardware, and then have a whole lot of people manage that in a fairly complex environment. We — being an emergency services — need to have very strong 24/7 support, and without a moderate-size team here, it can be quite difficult sometimes to cover those hours."

Host added that the other part of the Fire and Rescue NSW business, the triple zero emergency systems, will not be moving across to IBM Cloud at this stage, and will remain on-premises because it's integrated with radio and voice, which would be "quite complicated" to move.

As a result of the migration, FRNSW will be one of the first NSW government agencies to transform its business to an "as a service" model, addressing the NSW government's datacentre reform initiative , which focuses on consolidating 130 government datacenters into two mega-datacentres, and a whole-of-government ICT strategy aimed to drive better services in the state.

Host also revealed that the organisation is working with Pipe Networks to improve the speed of its networks by installing a fibre ring around its metropolitan locations. This will mean that by next month, a 10GB fibre ring will exist between its major offices and run 100 times faster, according to Host.

"The great news is it's slightly less than what we were paying before, but we're getting 100 times improvement, which is phenomenal. We've more than doubled our internet bandwidth for the same price, and then on our other network, to all of our fire stations, we're saving 75 percent," he said.