"This configuration significantly improves business continuity capabilities: in the event of a primary server outage, the council's application environment can be switched easily to the redundant site or to any other third-party facility capable of receiving the virtual machine files.
"Rather than build disaster recovery over our old server environment, it made sense to virtualise and then develop disaster recovery over our new virtual centre.
"It's a lot smaller footprint; deploying new servers is now a drag-and-drop exercise, entire virtual machines can be backed up and restored in minutes."
Even in normal operation, James said the virtualised environment has paid significant dividends.
He said payroll, Web services and Intranet systems are running faster and changing out equipment is significantly quicker.
"New servers can be brought online in minutes when needed rather than days and having fewer leases will slash server leasing costs by 80 per cent over the next two years," James said.
"We've designed a lot of robustness, reliability and fallback into the solution. Our targeted tasks have been achieved successfully, with network administration staff working incredibly well and productively."
In the long-term, the council's ability to move its virtual servers easily from system to system may lead to an even more comprehensive disaster recovery environment.
"The City of West Torrens is considering setting up a physically distant secondary site where similarly configured servers would provide additional protection from disaster," James said.
"A shared services model, in which the City of West Torrens and neighbouring councils would jointly develop a central disaster recovery environment physically distant from their offices, would further reduce costs and help spread risk further."
The City of West Torrens is the second oldest metropolitan council in South Australia.
It covers an area of around 36 sq km and has a population of 50,500.
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