Yarra Valley Water announces email upgrade to improve its disaster recovery

Moves from Microsoft Exchange 2003 to 2010, partners with Thomas Duryea Consulting

Yarra Valley Water has announced it will make major upgrades to its email system due to its Microsoft Exchange platform becoming outdated.

Manager of client services at Yarra Valley Water, Anthony Hickling, spoke to Computerworld Australia about the project, saying that it is part of a major overhaul at Melbourne’s largest provider of water supply and sewage services.

“We’re in a transitional period at the moment,” Hickling said. “We’re in the process of in-sourcing all of our IT and it was previously outsourced to a tier one partner, so we’re building up our skills in-house at the moment.”

With 50 support staff and 25 project managers currently working in Yarra Valley Water’s IT team, Hickling said the aim of the email upgrade was not only about increasing staff email storage capacity from 200 megabytes, but also about improving the business’ approach to disaster recovery (DR).

“Our aim is to provide disaster recovery responses within 10 days so it is quite a high target,” Hickling said. “Our Exchange 2003 system just couldn’t handle that — it is not what it was designed for.”

Rather than going to market for a specific solution, Hickling announced an open tender, with Google, Microsoft and Thomas Duryea Consulting (TD) being shortlisted.

“We went to market via open tender and basically said our requirements were 99.9 per cent availability, we need disk capacity and we needed to provide the DR features,” he said.

“We also spoke to Google about Gmail accounts and Google Apps, and we also spoke to Microsoft about its 365 solution.”

Hickling said Yarra Valley Water chose to partner with TD for the low cost and practicality of the offering.

“When they responded to the tender they actually provided us with a solution in the tender which was high availability and a cheaper cost than all of the other providers,” he said.

The solution, built on Microsoft Exchange 2010 and delivering mail across four servers, includes the integration of edge servers, Cloud filtering and unified messaging for voicemail which enables easier access to voicemail messages.

Construction of the infrastructure is currently in progress with the business aiming to complete a test run in the coming weeks.

“We’ve begun the build of the infrastructure now and we look to have that up and running close to Christmas so we could do a DR test,” he said.

“The proposed design looks to give us a lot of benefits around the amount of data we can provide people.”

Next on Hickling’s IT agenda is dealing with the high cost of water across Victoria, saying that Yarra Valley’s business case is built around this aim.

“The cost of water has gone up over the last couple of years and continues to go up,” he said. “So the focus for us and our IT department is to ensure that what we’re delivering is efficient and that our business case is really stacked up and that what we’re doing is actually delivering the benefits.”

Follow Lisa Banks on Twitter: @CapricaStar

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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