The NSW Rural Lands Protection Board (RLPB) has splurged A$300,000 (NZ$385,700) on sweeping communication and datacentre upgrades, including a state-wide IP network and a fleet of servers with virtualisation software.
The RLPB is funded through land rates and provides services including animal health and pest and disease control to the state's farmers and monitors regulation compliance.
Its work in the locust plagues of 2004 saved millions of dollars in crops, while it minimised the spread of Equine Influenza in 2007, and the Newcastle Disease in poultry at Mangrove Mountain in 1999.
Some A$8 million was saved last year after the NSW government rolled the 47 RLPBs into 14 area authorities, following revenue declines, and appointed some directors to each on advice from an analyst report. The RLPB shop supports about 600 users spread across the 67 sites.
The board's slashed operating costs and improved ease of management, according to RLPB IT manager Joedy Frape, by consolidating its physical servers with virtualisation and replacing each site's separate internet connection with a centralised 20Mbit/s Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network.
Frape says the project improved network services for the board's 600 users, and reduced server power and maintenance costs.
"We had more than a 60 percent reduction in helpdesk calls by consolidating the internet connections into the MPLS network immediately after the upgrade," he says.
"The group policy that we introduced meant that all PCs were the same, and if someone called up [helpdesk] we knew it wasn't because of some foreign software.
"I was a little worried about using [Microsoft's] Hyper-V because I'm a VMware person, but we haven't had any problems."
The four Dell R805 servers run 32 virtual servers "without breaking a sweat" and two 12TB Equalogic SAN boxes are managed centrally from Orange through Terminal Services 2008, including eight terminal server farms with a broker server that hosts the board's .Net financial and rural management system (FARMS), and core rural management applications.
Frape says the four Cisco 3750 switches run the SAN and network as a master and slave and about 8Gbit/s is piped out of each server.