Wellington City Council Uses AWS to Modernize its IT Infrastructure and Better Serve Citizens


As New Zealand's center of government, Wellington City Council’s (WCC) mandate includes finding new ways of working and improving the lives of its citizens. The council relies on technology to deliver many of its municipal services and to facilitate collaboration with different stakeholders within the government. With this mandate, WCC wanted to upgrade its IT infrastructure to ensure it could support its goals.

“It’s demanding to cater and meet the needs of a local government agency. Our services are always on demand—citizens need to be able to access them 24/7. If we upgraded our infrastructure, it would have to be done in a careful and calibrated manner,” said Hein Beukes, manager of information and communications technology (ICT) services, WCC.

Cable car, Wellington, New Zealand

There is bound to be trial and error along the way, but working with AWS and Consegna has given us the peace of mind to focus on delivering better outcomes to our citizens, backed by a robust infrastructure and sound counsel."

Hein Beukes
Manager of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Services, Wellington City Council

Finding a Partner for Better Service Delivery

Before migrating to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, WCC outsourced all of its IT requirements to an external vendor. In 2018, WCC decided to examine how it could bring the management of its IT services back in-house, so that it could have more control over IT provisioning. This formed the foundation of the council’s broader plans to upgrade its infrastructure.

WCC planned to carry out an all-in migration of its core IT systems to the cloud, but was committed to a smooth transition—the city’s services depended on it. Its small, in-house IT team was not well-versed with cloud operations and would not be able to handle the migration without additional support.

Beukes also shared that some of WCC’s applications were highly integrated and dependent on other databases and services, making it more risky to migrate to the cloud.

WCC reached out to different cloud consulting agencies to understand what its migration journey could look like and whether it could work well with the respective agencies. Ultimately, WCC chose AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, Consegna, to help migrate its operations to the cloud.

“While most clients prioritize experience and technical know-how, the council made it clear that it was also looking for a partner to help grow its in-house capabilities and competencies, so that the in-house team can manage its own infrastructure post-migration,” said Michael Butler, chief operations officer, Consegna.

Freedom and Control of Data in the Cloud

To prevent any unexpected hiccups during the migration for WCC, Consegna and the council set up two isolated cloud environments—a production environment, where the applications are provisioned; and a staging environment, where the council could learn to provision services and try out different configurations, without affecting any live workloads.

WCC immediately saw the benefits of migrating to the cloud, starting with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). It relished the control it had over its computing resources and appreciated how quickly it could obtain and boot new server instances. WCC also no longer has to worry about the security of the underlying infrastructure, or in this case, of AWS. With the shared responsibility model, it could focus the team’s efforts on securing the workloads it wanted to deploy on the AWS Cloud.

With every application migration, Consegna also worked with the project lead to ensure that the team of developers could learn how to set up and maintain AWS services on their own.
“It used to take up to two weeks to stand up a server. It was also difficult to guarantee consistent delivery and provision of services, as no two servers were the same,” commented Beukes. “With scripting and services from AWS, we can immediately configure and set up identical servers, in the matter of hours.”

Through Amazon EC2 and the use of on-demand instances, the council no longer worries about planning, purchasing, and maintaining hardware. Before the migration, WCC had to pay a fixed cost upfront for its hardware. Today, WCC can set up test server instances and shut them down at any point in time—only paying for the compute used.

Making the Right Call

Before WCC fully migrated to the AWS Cloud in 2020, the council used a managed contact center service to help operate its public hotline and internal telephony network. The service was unreliable, and there were multiple instances when callers were not able to reach customer service representatives. As the council looked to replace the service as quickly as they could, Consegna suggested WCC to carry out a proof-of-concept with Amazon Connect.

“Even though it was a self-service contact center, we were blown away by the functionality that was available with Amazon Connect and how simple it was to change voice scripts and to add users, among other features. The team didn’t need any specialized skills or additional training, making it a breeze to onboard,” said Carol Wahrlich, contact center manager, Wellington City Council.

The investment in Amazon Connect, along with the migration to the AWS Cloud, has proven to be invaluable in other ways. When New Zealand entered into its first COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in early 2020, WCC could support the remote operations of its entire workforce.

Providing public services doesn’t stop during a pandemic, and since 2020, WCC has experienced an increase in requests from residents. Today, WCC can support 1,800 remote users connecting concurrently. Without AWS, WCC could not have supported a remote workforce—a key benefit in providing continuous service to the public, while also keeping users safe.

“Our journey to the cloud is ultimately a project to improve our service delivery and not just an IT transformation. There is bound to be trial and error along the way, but working with AWS and Consegna has given us the peace of mind to focus on delivering better outcomes to our citizens, backed by a robust infrastructure and sound counsel,” Beukes concluded.

About Wellington City Council

Wellington City Council is a territorial authority in New Zealand, governing the country's capital city.

Benefits of AWS

  • Ensures that applications are highly available
  • Enabled remote working for 1,800 users concurrently
  • Reduced time to launch new servers, from 2 weeks to a few hours

AWS Services Used

Amazon Connect

Amazon Connect is an easy to use omnichannel cloud contact center that helps you provide superior customer service at a lower cost.

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Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS)

Amazon EBS is an easy to use, high-performance, block-storage service designed for use with Amazon EC2 for both throughput and transaction intensive workloads at any scale.

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Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS)

Amazon RDS makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.

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Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC)

Amazon VPC is a service that lets you launch AWS resources in a logically isolated virtual network that you define. 

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