For Hartley Holtzhauzen, infrastructure services manager, Auckland Council, is moving mountains of his own.
Voted as the Future CIO of the Year and ICT Manager of the Year at the inaugural Computerworld NZ IT Leaders Award 2014, Holtzhauzen is meticulously leading Auckland Council’s major infrastructure services transformation program.
Promoted into the IS enterprise services infrastructure manager role in May 2013, Holtzhauzen has 20 years of IT experience to draw on, and has spearheaded Australasia’s largest council into modern era with a mixture of technical nous and strong leadership.
He received the special commendation for his role steering the City of into a new era of technology - combining the ICT functions of the previous regional council and the region's seven city and district councils into one ‘super council’.
Overseeing the implementation of a new telephony service for Auckland Council’s Customer Services Centres, Holtzhauzen also delivered an 8,000-plus desktop Windows XP migration as well as overseeing the transition of over 2000 servers from 13 legacy data centres to a third party IaaS platform.
All, as Mike Foley, Head of Information Services, Auckland Council attests; “without significant outages or customer impact”.
Holtzhauzen attributes the gains of this team in the past 12 months to an unwavering focus on the “big rocks” of Auckland Council’s ICT infrastructure.
“We need to focus on the big rocks,” reaffirms Holtzhauzen, who joined Auckland Council in October 2011 following his role as EMEA regional head of IT at investment bank firm Babcock & Brown in the UK.
“We’re transforming the Council from eight legacy environments and to do this we need to build the foundations, much like laying the groundwork for a multi-storey building.
“Any efficient IS organisation needs to possess a solid foundation and operate on a network that is robust, scalable and agile enough to deliver on the new cutting-edge technology and business opportunities coming into the workplace.”
Stepping into a challenging role from the offset, Holtzhauzen was tasked with supporting multiple legacy council environments across varied domains and unsurprising given the magnitude of the shift, the transition created notable challenges within the infrastructure arena.
Taking charge following a top-level transformation of Auckland Council’s IS, led chiefly by Foley and his operations team, Holtzhauzen guided the much-publicised migration away from Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system, onto the supported Windows 7 platform.
Working to an end-of-support deadline imposed by Redmond, Holtzhauzen admits that on the day of April 8, 2014, it “simply wasn’t an option to still be operating on Windows XP.”
Any efficient IS organisation needs to possess a solid foundation and operate on a network that is robust, scalable and agile enough to deliver on the new cutting-edge technology and business opportunities coming into the workplace.
“It was non-negotiable,” Holtzhauzen recalls. “We acknowledged the deadline and understood the significance of exposing the Council after this date, and considering Microsoft’s end of support bills ran into the millions we were under great pressure to initiate a smooth transition to Windows 7.”
Alluding again to the Council’s key “big rocks” consisting of desktop, data centres and telephony, Holtzhauzen admits that on a personal level, transitioning from the global investment banking industry to local government triggered a much-deeper impact on his decision making processes.
Aside from the complex nature of the IS transformation, the nature of Holtzhauzen’s previous role in the UK was a role, in comparison to Council, luxuriated around little funding limitations and crucially, little public scrutiny.
“To try and achieve a world class IS transformation with a limited budget is of course a new challenge for me,” says Holtzhauzen.