NSW government owned corporation Hunter Water has managed to save $50,000 per year on Microsoft licences since deploying Microsoft Systems Centre 2012.\nHunter Water provides water and wastewater services to more than half a million people in the lower Hunter region of NSW, with more than 227,000 properties connected to its water network and 215,000 to its wastewater network.\n\u201cBecause we use a significant number of Microsoft applications, and we were under a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, we saw the most cost effective way of doing that was to utilise the licensing we already owned,\u201d said Glendin Franklin-Browne, ICT operations manager at Hunter Water.\nFranklin-Browne, who worked with Dimension Data on the deployment of the project, wanted to avoid having to pay for unnecessary licences, so he needed to be able to track which applications were not being used often.\nFranklin-Browne used Microsoft Service Manager Cireson to track the use of applications such as Microsoft Visio.\n\u201cIt aligns itself with the financial system, and is a way to track all of our components of software or hardware, making sure maintenance agreements are kept up to date and valid, licences counts are managed properly,\u201d he said.\n\u201cWe are going to be able to start rationalising how much we spend on licensing. For example, we have 50 Microsoft Visio licences, but we might find there are only 10 people who have only used it once in the last six months. So with those sorts of tools and that sort of information we are able to uninstall it off those 10 people\u2019s computers and we\u2019ll assess it again in six months\u2019 time.\n\u201cIf it appears some people don\u2019t use it on a regular basis, why are we paying money to hold that licence?\u201d\nFranklin-Browne is also looking to automate the process so the system will track the use of applications, and uninstall as necessary.\nIn addition to saving money on licences, Franklin-Browne said the system allows him to better report back to the state government on the amount of time invested into new IT projects and daily operations.\n\u201cIt was very hard for me to get picture of what my team does on a day-to-day basis when some of them are working on projects and some working on operations. So the more we integrate, the bigger picture we get of what each individual is doing and how they are using their time.\n\u201cIt\u2019s very important for us to be able to acknowledge, understand and report on how much time we are spending operationally and how much time we are spending in a capital sense.\u201d\nBefore consolidating all its system management tools with Microsoft, Hunter Water was using FrontRange IT service management. Not only has support ended for this application, but there were also data integrity issues, Franklin-Browne said.\n\u201cIt was regularly failing on us; it was regularly providing us with poor data. There were times where for no apparent reason it would just switch the date format from UK\/Australian to American, so all of our statistics were completely inaccurate.\n\u201cThe data quality issues were really hurting us as an IT department because often in IT you need prove your worth and value to the organisation, and we weren\u2019t able to do that.\u201d\nMobile workforce\nMicrosoft System Centre 2012 also supports Hunter Water mobile field workers, with more than 100 ruggedized Motion tablets out in the field.\n\u201cThe workers out in the field use our GIS or spatial system to locate jobs, pipes, infrastructure in real time,\u201d Franklin-Browne said.\nThe next step is to use Microsoft Lync so that field workers can video conference with their supervisors for help handling a particular repair or maintenance job.\n\u201cIn April this year, we are moving the whole corporation to Windows 8.1, and Microsoft Lync will be deployed as part of that,\u201d Franklin-Browne said.\n\u201cThey will be able to get right down inside a pit or water main and show their supervisor what exactly is going on and talk to them.\u201d\nERP upgrade\nHunter Water is in the middle of an ERP upgrade, moving from an old version of Ventyx Ellipse to the latest version, 8.4. Franklin-Browne refreshing Hunter Water\u2019s ERP system is complex because it is based on a highly customised tools that are difficult to change.\n\u201cWith these custom built tools, it was hard and expensive to upgrade. So moving forward they are going to be with little customisation as possible so we don\u2019t run into this problem again.\n\u201cFor example, for an engineer to import a timesheet into the system they used a custom build Excel based connector; they would enter their time into what looks like and Excel spreadsheet. There would be macros that would then take that information and import it into our Ellipse system.\u201d\nTo support the ERP upgrade, Hunter Water is also replacing its storage infrastructure, moving from IBM to Dell.\n\u201cWe went out to tender and Dell won the tender. We had ageing equipment, we had multiple storage technologies because of our ERP system and customer care billing system needed to be run on a particular storage technology, and everything else was run on a different storage technology.\u201d\nFranklin-Browne said he is aiming to consolidate Hunter Water\u2019s several storage technologies down to one by the end of the year.