Hydro Tasmania overhauls legacy IT and moves 1,400 staff to remote work

Giving all staff the capability to work from home proved to be beneficial when faced with COVID-19 lockdown-like restrictions in Australia and India.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

State government electricity generator Hydro Tasmania has been undertaking a digital transformation for the past two and a half years, completely overhauling everything it thought it knew about IT.

The organisation-wide transformation included modernising its data centre, implementing a new backup and recovery solution, and equipping its entire 1,400-person workforce located in two countries with the capability to move to 100% remote working.

Hydro Tasmania IT operations manager and architect Fletcher Davidson told ZDNet the IT overhaul laid the foundation for future IT strategy, as well as helped manage risk within the organisation's IT environment.

"I'd call it modernising and mobilising our workforce, while minimising risk in our environment," he said.

Davidson said Hydro Tasmania realised its plan would require two to three years of work, so it started with moving its systems from legacy server rooms to software-defined data centres, and modernising all the infrastructure, storage, and backup along the way.

"At the same time, we began a complete refresh of our end-user computing environment. This included PCs, meeting room equipment, networks, and WAN devices.

"Everything started with that data centre refresh though. It kicked off the migration we needed to get everything up and running for the business."

See also: Global IT spending forecast to drop this year but rebound in 2021 (TechRepublic)

Hydro Tasmania went to market for a data centre solution and a backup platform, which resulted in migration to Dell Technologies' VxRail.

Davidson said the overhaul delivered the foundation of private cloud that forms part of the organisation's hybrid cloud play. He called it the foundation for the rest of the digital transformation and Hydro Tasmania's next phase of investment.

"The Dell EMC VxRail forms the backbone of our internal video conferencing solution, so when it became a critical part of everyone's day-to-day with our entire workforce relocated to their homes, we were confident we'd be able to easily handle the extra load," Davidson said. "We've been able to relocate our entire call centre to work from home too, something we wouldn't have been able to do previously."

Davidson said the ability for staff to pick up their laptops one day and be working from home the next was a "massive change" and a welcome one in the face of COVID-19.

"We've had a lot of positive feedback coming from the CEO down, letting us know how happy people have been with the experience," he added.

The modernising and future-proofing of the IT infrastructure had already been put to the test unexpectedly, through a fire in the organisation's India office data centre. The new data backup and recovery solution replicated mission-critical data to the data centres in Hobart and Melbourne and all of its data was fully accessible again within two hours.

Now that Hydro Tasmania is "free from low level risk remediation and keeping the lights on", Davidson said the next steps for the organisation includes taking the challenge of adopting cloud practices and changing its delivery model.

"This includes delivering public and private IaaS platforms ... we're also looking at the opportunity of adopting Kubernetes and a Docker-based solution for new workloads to further simplify and modernise the IT landscape," he said.


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