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Real-time data streams boost WaterNSW network

Real-time data collection from 4600 measurement devices is set to improve water availability in communities across NSW thanks to a new partnership between WaterNSW and cloud OS provider Nutanix. 

Nutanix software will allow WaterNSW to process the collected data by first capturing and storing it, before using it for customer-centric applications, including the recently released Water Insights Portal.

WaterNSW CIO Ian Robinson said operating the largest surface and groundwater network in the southern hemisphere, monitoring data for one of Australia’s most important assets. 

“We’re a data management company when it comes down to it,” Robinson said. 

“Everything we deliver for our customers depends on the visibility of what’s happening across our water network. Whether that’s river flows, storage levels or water quality, every decision we make is data-driven.”

Data-rich network

The monitoring network uses 4600 measurement gauges and sensors, installed in waterways across NSW, which deliver data critical to operational decisions. 

Furthermore, the data is also available to communities, farmers and irrigators, helping mediate responses to drought, floods, and bushfires, Robinson said. 

“Our water data is critically important, and it needs to be shared. Making it accessible is a core part of our role,” Robinson said. 

“From the Bureau of Meteorology investigating weather patterns, to government departments making policy and population decisions, to farmers and irrigators who need to know when there’s enough water available for them to start pumping — all these decisions are influenced by our data.”

WaterNSW first engaged Nutanix as part of a data centre refurbishment, working with IT partner HCL Technologies. The software involves a hybrid cloud environment with SaaS or IaaS, as well as business-critical and operational applications, which are hosted at a government-run data centre. 

Robinson said Nutanix plays a key role in the way WaterNSW operates its network. 

“All our SCADA and telemetry systems sit on the platform, which acts as the engine room for gathering all that data from the field in real-time,” he said. 

“Our infrastructure allows us to move our data between the point it is captured and the output location with integrity and automation so it’s consistent and meets our customer promise.”

Robinson said the hybrid approach underpinned by Nutanix offers WaterNSW a number of key benefits.

“Nutanix represented better value for money than going to a cloud-only strategy. Not only would we save a further 50 percent, Nutanix’s consolidated approach means we can emulate the cloud capabilities in-house without a huge amount of effort,” he said. 

Upgraded applications

Since the implementation, 400 applications have been transitioned to the new environment with a large number of those modernised to the latest Windows and SQL server versions, resulting in the need to upgrade many of the underlying applications.

Upgrades to the business-critical applications have removed system security vulnerabilities and enabled automated failover to an alternated data centre, giving the critical infrastructure provider stronger disaster recovery capability.       

Nutanix Australia New Zealand Managing Director Lee Thompson said hybrid cloud was emerging across enterprise and government as the preferred operating model.

“While some applications and data are suited to public cloud, the risk of handing others over to a third party is just too immense, particularly in the case of critical infrastructure such as water, utilities, and government services,” Thompson said.

“WaterNSW understands the incredible value of its data. Through an innovative approach to its architecture, it has retained ownership and control over its most important asset, while simultaneously having the flexibility to share it in real time with those who matter most — its customers.”