- Norwegian municipalities are facing major challenges. Many of the challenges are about how more tasks needs to be solved within scarce budgetary. IT is, next to experienced people, one of the most important tools we have in the search for modern and efficient solutions. Digital transformation is the keyword.

Ski Kommune - Datacentre
Photo: Ingar Sørensen

No municipality can think about the future without dealing with the possibilities modern technology brings, says CIO of Ski Kommune, Eivind Stensrud. When he began this job in 2013 his mandate was to take an old IT-platform localized in the basement of the Town Hall and prepare Ski Kommune for a comprehensive digital transformation. Then it all failed.

Residents and employees online

- A digitalization strategy for Ski Kommune is about offering the residents good services in an efficient and rational way, says Stensrud. - That involves automation and streamlining of several processes. The contact with the municipality will at the same time happen in online based channels.

- We’ll start with looking at the internal processes with focus on streamlining with help from digital solutions. That will make the residents notice the change. I can vision a digital application process from building projects to kindergartens and schools. The use of paper will be reduced and it will be easier to check status on a case under process. We are already introducing computers and tablets for all pupils in primary school and is going for digital teaching aids. None of this would have been possible two years ago.

Local datacentre with the cloud’s abilities

In May 2014, the data systems in Ski Kommune failed during a submission of an exam. The students failed to get online and the exam tasks failed to download and submit. The limited Internet sites the students were supposed to have access to, were not reachable. Several functions and solutions failed at once, and in a period later the entire data system in the municipal were down for over a week.

The challenge was an old IT-platform which was the result of a lag in investments over several years. The solution was to start all over in cooperation with Ski Kommune’s partner, Lumagate. - Before this cooperation, we ran around with scissors and glue to hold together an IT-solution that was falling apart. After exchanging almost every machine, networks, and clients with modern technology and solutions, we’re now ahead.

We now avert the problems before they appear and think strategic around the digital transformation of Ski Kommune.

Ready for Follo

As a central part of the IT Follo-cooperation, Ski Kommune can now easily host both municipality’s services and a line of intercommunal companies (IKS’s). – The decisive test was the establishment of a Local Medicine Centre in the new solution. This was a project we were supposed to spend 9 months on, but it had to be completed in 3. We did it! The technical process of case/ archive-solution for four Follo- municipalities was recently transferred to us, without any issues. Stensrud is telling us that they will be able to host more municipalities on the platform they have established, if there should be need for it.

A modern cloud on the ground

The new platforms are built around Microsoft’s System Center portfolio. Six physical servers are divided into around 350 virtual. Both the capacity and the licenses can be adjusted up and down as required.

- Even if the datacentre is localized in the basement of the Town Hall we will have secured the automation, flexibility, and scalability like a cloud based centre could offer. The solution is also facilitated for a rapid integration with the cloud, and we have already started using some of these services. Office 365 is for example delivered in this way.

Eventually, it will be natural to consider moving the servers out of our basement and over to an Azure- and cloud based hosting environment, says Stensrud.

In line with the building of a new and modern datacentre, many computers and the actual network in the municipal will be switched out. Users today experience increased stability and speed in combination with modern solutions, like Office 365, concludes Evind Stendsrud.