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Published: 2011-11-29 00:00:00

A Waikato Regional Council information technology manager who has helped generate “very significant” cost savings for councils nationally has won this year’s Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM) leadership award.

Billy Michels was instrumental in coordinating a joint licensing arrangement - between VMWare software of the United States and more than 40 councils - which has helped generate a big overall reduction in councils’ costs.

At the same awards ceremony at the ALGIM conference, Waikato Regional Council also won the VMWare award for the way VMWare’s virtual server technology has been applied.

VMWare approached ALGIM four years ago with a view to establishing a joint licensing arrangement with councils for the use of its “virtual server” technology.

Mr Michels, who was already utilising VMWare and saw significant benefits in a joint licensing arrangement, volunteered to lead ALGIM’s discussions over the issue. Initially 42 councils signed up to the subsequent deal – now 48 are on board.

“VMWare has meant big changes to the way council IT teams operate,” said Mr Michels.

“The technology allows users to run multiple ‘virtual’ servers on one piece of computer hardware, leading to cost savings on hardware, much greater overall system reliability and greater flexibility in the way systems operate.

“For example, if one server isn’t working properly there is no need to shut down the hardware it is on while the problem is fixed. Problems can be worked on in normal business time rather than having to be remedied after hours. If someone requires a new virtual server this can be created in 10 minutes – normally ordering a new ’‘physical’ server can take up to eight weeks.”

Waikato Regional Council won the VMWare award by demonstrating how it had used the software to implement better internal systems reliability, in house cost savings and greater operational flexibility.

“In these cash constrained times it’s always good to be able to deliver cost savings, especially when we’ve been able to boost efficiency at the same time,” said Mr Michels.