Company: OpenConnectCustomer: TMBCSubmitted by: BluegrassTrafford Metropolitan Borough Council is situated in an area of great diversity and contrasts, is home to 220,000 people and brings together a vibrant mix of inner-city, leafy suburban and rural communities. Trafford is also home to Manchester United, the world-famous football club which has its stadium at Old Trafford, while a short walk away is another much-revered sporting venue, Lancashire County Cricket Club, the home of Test Matches for more than 100 years. Trafford Council, which last year won the national accolade of Council of the Year, recently modernised its way of working to provide a local government ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century by integrating the legacy mainframe to the internet.
Trafford had to address the issues and problems that any IT Manager, aiming to integrate a Legacy IT system to the Internet had to consider, face and deal with. Steve Cheeseborough, System Integration Manager at Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council says: “The best strategy for approaching Legacy-Web integration is give your organisation plenty of time to assess your overall needs. Consider the functionality you need to achieve, and the timing for this implementation.Once you have identified your requirements it is important to assess the marketplace and consider the software and hardware options available to you. It is important to address issues such as: how user-friendly will the system be once it is operational? Will it create an additional Technical Support workload, and, if so, do you have the technical capacity? What are the cost variants across the solution? Can a cost-effective solution also be time-efficient? What is the software’s execution performance? Only once you have the solutions to all of these issues are you ready to integrate your systems.”Trafford were looking for a product that In terms of connectivity and found that it was far cheaper to use OpenConnect’s OC//:WebConnect Pro.
It was found that many products which are based on per-seat licensing could be very expensive: OpenConnect’s concurrent licensing policy means that the Council only paid for the connections that were use, not a fee for every PC in the Council offices.Trafford MBC has a small IT team which has to service the entire council. This heavy workload means that the ability to manage users centrally is crucial in avoiding time-consuming journeys to individual users spread across the borough. Server-based solutions such as OC//:WebConnect Pro not only provide all users with instant mainframe access, they also – says Gartner – save an average of $200 per desktop per year.In additional to conventional, telephone-based, support, OpenConnect also provide an Enhanced Support package that provides 24×7 backup over the Internet. This is essential for a small team in quickly diagnosing unforeseen – and unforeseeable – system problems that can occur from time to time.
Gerry Fredericks, UK Managing Director for OpenConnect, commented “We are very excited about the opportunity to work with Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council, and are keen to support the e-government initiative. Having already demonstrated our technical superiority in the Business arena, we welcome the opportunity to provide the same cost savings to Central and Local Government.”The best strategy for approaching Legacy/Web Integration is according to Steve Cheeseborough from Trafford is “It is important to know the peculiarities of your own system, so that technicians are aware of all potential problems in advance of the implementation process. In this way, you can avoid constant fire-fighting as issues crop up.””In Trafford’s case it was easy to anticipate some of the problems because we already knew that the setup was unusual, with every single user having their own mainframe TCP/IP port. OpenConnect were able to provide a utility to help us define users on the system, minimising the amount of time that we have to spend maintaining user profiles.
“Overall, the installation was relatively trouble-free simply because each problem had been identified accurately in advance. The only hurdle we had to face was a problem on one of the screens, when viewed using the AutoVista rejuvenation software. A particular field wouldn’t accept an input, so we ran a trace and e-mailed it to OpenConnect. They were able to run this through their simulator to identify the problem, and provided an immediate fix. The turnaround from problem identification to installed solution was five days.”