Yorkshire Water drives sustainable agenda as it pursues digital transformation of utilities sector

Posted on 09/10/2019

By adopting VMware vRealize® Suite, Yorkshire Water is maximising the utilisation of its IT resource. Consolidation of its IT footprint reduces energy and estate costs, while improving IT agility

In 2018 Yorkshire Water published a framework outlining changes to its decision-making process. Dubbed the ‘Six Capitals’, the document argued the case for non-financial assets to be included on the balance sheet. Rather than judging a business purely on its financial capital, a more rounded approach would include human, manufactured, intellectual, natural and social capital.

‘Six Capitals’ is central to Yorkshire Water’s sustainability agenda. Gordon Rogers, Head of Sustainability at Yorkshire Water says this approach is being embraced by the firm and its supply chain as it looks to drive environmental and social outcomes, as well as purely economic and financial gains.

How will it impact the IT function?

The business has pledged to digitally transform the way it works. It favours ‘as a service’ technologies, greater automation, and a widespread use of cloud infrastructure. In addition, Yorkshire Water plans to deploy network sensors and IoT solutions to monitor and manage water systems. Robots are being used to carry out repairs and drones will conduct aerial surveys.

It is imperative that Yorkshire Water creates a more efficient, dynamic IT infrastructure, capable of supporting such innovation. But in doing so it must respect the ‘Six Capitals’ guidance.

The business is a long-term VMware customer, using VMware vSphere® as its server virtualisation platform. It is the adoption of vRealize Suite that is accelerating sustainable outcomes. By bringing its private cloud management under one suite of management tools, the business is able to optimise the utilisation of its resources. It can identify waste, spot duplication, and fix issues more promptly. In addition, VMware Skyline™ establishes an automated, proactive support technology. This helps Yorkshire Water avoid problems before they occur and reduces time to resolution. Paul Bayley, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Yorkshire Water says, “Skyline means we’re able to spot issues before they escalate and helps us adopt best practices.

The VMware solution is also in line with Yorkshire Water’s broader sustainable strategy. “By leveraging the in-depth capacity management capabilities of VMware vRealize® Operations we’re able to assess virtual workloads and look to consolidate where practicable,” says Bayley. “We’re more intelligent in our choice of hardware.”

In purely black and white terms, this means Yorkshire Water can switch off unused resource – saving heating, cooling and floorspace costs.

There are also softer, but equally sustainable, benefits. There is less downtime, meaning IT is more productive. And, thanks to greater automation, human resources are directed to higher value tasks. Staff are upskilled. Human capital becomes more valuable.

By creating a more agile IT infrastructure (server provisioning times are down from seven days to two hours, says Bayley), the business is better able to support digital transformation. It can be more efficient in the ways it tests new ideas or scales up Proofs of Concept to production.

Ultimately, Bayley says, the adoption of vRealize Suite is as much cultural as operational. It is part of a continuing mission to drive out any infrastructure wastage: “vRealize Suite makes it easier to identify wasted resource, to combine pools of resource, and to turn off when no longer needed. By having a narrower footprint we can focus IT resource on the things that matter to the business.”

About Yorkshire Water

Yorkshire Water is a UK utilities business. It manages over 62,000 miles of pipework connecting water systems across England’s largest county, providing 1.24 billion litres of drinking water each day.


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