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Kyoto Prefecture is one of Japan’s 47 prefectures―government bodies charged with the oversight of the region’s administrative functions. Kyoto Prefecture is composed of six districts and 26 municipalities. Approximately 2.6 million people live in the prefecture.
Since 2009, local municipalities in the prefecture have participated in a cloud computing trial instigated by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The initial goal of the local government initiative was to use cloud computing as the backbone for e-government and to streamline operations by sharing documentation systems. These systems would be housed in a common data center, and municipalities would access them using a governmentwide network.
As part of the trial, Kyoto Prefecture took part in a project to demonstrate data center functions, the interconnectivity between different data centers, and application integration.
The prefecture implemented Oracle GoldenGate, Oracle VM, and Oracle Database with Real Application Clusters to demonstrate how the document-support system could be backed up remotely and restored in real time within a virtual environment. Kyoto Prefecture proved it was possible to restart an operating system and application in 10 minutes in a virtual environment, and that critical business systems supporting document management and decision-making functions could be recovered within two to four hours of a disaster.
In 2004, the Policy Planning Division of Kyoto Prefecture created an e-government promotion department. The department developed 14 systems and relevant tools as part of a three-year plan to establish e-government practices. The project also involved extensive business process re-engineering, including staff training.
Almost all 14 systems became operational in 2007, and business reforms yielded concrete results, including greater transparency into procedures, such as tax processing and welfare payments; real-time status updates; and standardization of processes, such as human resources, payroll, and general administration. Gradually, the prefecture moved to a new style of management that enabled better staff development and improvements in the IT infrastructure rebuilding process.
In 2008, Kyoto Prefecture embarked on its next project: adopting a structured approach to data management. At that time, each of the prefecture’s divisions used its own systems, and this was inefficient, expensive to maintain, and prevented data sharing. By integrating systems and managing data in a structured manner, the prefecture hoped to invert conventional practices so that, instead of linking data to services, it would link services and activities to data.
“Managing data in this way enabled us to see a clear flow of services, and we currently run our systems in a structured manner,” said Masato Hirose, section manager, information policy division, department of policy planning, Kyoto Prefecture.
In parallel with the system integration initiatives in progress at Kyoto Prefecture, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications was working to establish a cloud computing environment for local municipalities. In 2009, the Ministry invited Kyoto Prefecture, Hokkaido Prefecture, and Saga Prefecture to participate in the cloud computing trial. Kyoto Prefecture was asked to demonstrate remote data backup, quick system recovery, and flexible system expansion within a virtual environment.
To do this, the prefecture used its data center in Hokkaido as a remote site, which is situated about 1,200 kilometers to the north of Kyoto. It then attempted to show it was possible to synchronize and back up data held in its document support system in Kyoto with the Hokkaido data center, and do it in real time. The experiment aimed to see if and how quickly business systems could be recovered during normal operating times, as well as in the event of a natural or manmade disaster, and to ensure disaster recovery sites could continue to function during and after the disaster.
Conventional backup practices require a one-to-one approach supported by large servers, as well as production systems, which is expensive and time-consuming in terms of building a database infrastructure.
In the data center proof-of-concept, Kyoto Prefecture ran multiple versions of Oracle Database on different versions of the Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Oracle GoldenGate was implemented to enable the prefecture to replicate business data (such as taxation information) in different environments, such as Oracle Database on Linux or Oracle Database on Microsoft Windows, so that fewer servers would be needed at the backup site. This created a way to back up heterogeneous environments in an integrated manner in real time. A virtual private network connected the data center in Kyoto with the facility in Hokkaido.
“We proved that it was easy to conduct integrated backup using Oracle GoldenGate,” said Kouhei Kawaguchi, assistant manager, information policy division, policy planning department, Kyoto Prefecture. “This enables us to back up data to a remote site in real time, ensuring we do not lose critical information―such as residents’ addresses, contact information, business data, and taxation details―in the event of an earthquake or a fire, and that we can assist citizens during emergencies.”
Kyoto Prefecture implemented Oracle VM and Oracle Database with Real Application Clusters at the Hokkaido data center to see if it was possible to scale databases in a cloud computing environment. The prefecture found that one physical server could scale up to run three virtual servers, ensuring additional servers could be easily provisioned if extra processing power was needed. Combined with the clustered database framework, this provides Kyoto Prefecture with a flexible, scalable, and highly available disaster recovery environment.
“We also discovered we could restart operating systems and applications in the virtual environment in just 10 minutes,” said Kawaguchi. “We were able to confirm that we can recover all our business systems within two to four hours, even in the event of a large-scale natural disaster.”
Virtualization has also provided Kyoto Prefecture with the ability to migrate and restart its database and systems in another physical location. This means the prefecture can quickly resume providing services to citizens following an earthquake or tsunami, as it can restore systems in a safe area if its main data center or backup facility is affected.
“Operating a backup site when conditions are normal may require double the investment,” said Kawaguchi. “On the other hand, a virtual backup infrastructure requires a small initial investment and minimum operating costs. This means we can keep costs down but still manage risk, as we can quickly deploy servers and scale up during emergency situations.”
Kyoto Prefecture was attracted to Oracle GoldenGate because the software enabled data to be replicated in different environments, enabling the prefecture to back up heterogeneous environments in an integrated manner. In addition, Oracle was a proven solution, with the vendor providing many cases in which Oracle VM and Oracle Real Application Clusters had delivered tangible results for customers.
“We believed Oracle could provide us with a one-stop service,” said Kawaguchi.
Kyoto Prefecture undertook the data center synchronization experiment in October 2010, after spending some months building the required infrastructure, implementing the Oracle technology, and completing the network connections between the Kyoto and Hokkaido data centers.
Advice from Kyoto Prefecture
• Ensure your IT team is knowledgeable about your implementation project, is fully trained at all levels, remains committed to completing the project, and works to resolve any problems, even if they fall outside the original project scope.