Ever Wonder What It Takes to Be Recognized as a Top-100 IT Organization?

IDG’s CIO, the executive-level IT media brand providing insight into business technology leadership, recognizes 100 organizations each year that have distinguished themselves by creating business value through the innovative use of IT. This year’s winners were recognized during a gala awards dinner and ceremony held at the CIO 100 Symposium & Awards Ceremony on August 19–21, 2012, at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. One of the honorees was Jorge Pazos from the City of Melrose, Massachusetts, who used a NetApp® solution to make a creative and cost-effective change.

 

What did Jorge do to win this prestigious award? The award recognizes Melrose IT for a unique and innovative municipal cloud project that is truly transforming the way governments provide IT services. It brings together local governments to cut costs, improve efficiencies, and deliver better, more professional IT services.

 

Pazos’s goal is to turn Melrose into a regional IT hub for other cities and towns in Massachusetts, allowing them to run technology services such as e-mail and file storage out of the new data center in Melrose. This would reduce the time and money municipalities spend managing IT and shift the focus from managing infrastructure to consuming IT services. The regional IT blueprint developed by Pazos was prominently featured in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s regionalization plan for IT.

 


 

It’s been quite a journey for Pazos. In 2009, Melrose found itself running short of space to store servers. It also had stressed power and cooling resources and was overloaded with daily maintenance tasks. Alongside these challenges, requirements for IT had increased dramatically: Fire departments wanted mobile terminals and GPS tracking, the police launched a crime analysis program that required storing thousands of images, and there were many other such demands. If you’re wondering just how Pazos and Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan cracked the problem, read on.

 

The city tackled five key areas of concern: the dependability of the switching/link speed between buildings, the rate of increase in storage demands, the disorganized use of compute resources and support arrangements, the duplication of time and effort, and the need for room to expand. Here’s what happened.

 

  1. The old, unreliable network infrastructure was replaced with high-speed fiber optic links. Technology departments were then consolidated and all buildings were connected to a central core switch. The NetApp FlexPod® data center platform was used to consolidate server infrastructure, which permitted swift increase of capacity without the threat of expensive equipment replacement in the future.
  2. The core of the network was routed through a Cisco® Nexus® 7010 with 32 single-mode fiber optic SFPs and multiple virtual routing tables. Networking access was securely segmented since VLANs or individual physical connections were used.
  3. A Cisco UCS blade server system connected to the storage environment. Along with the VMware® hypervisor and management software, virtual machines could be configured and administered. Daily tasks with virtual servers and desktops were made easier by a NetApp Virtual Storage Console plug-in.
  4. The configuration of the city’s virtual environment made it easy to operate across multiple tenants. To account for a failure or downtime, one physical domain controller was maintained.
  5. Twelve terabytes of space came from a FAS2040 dual-controller HA configuration with two shelves and a Fibre Channel–connected DS14MK4 and SAS-connected DS4243. Storage management was taken care of by the vSphere® client and the NetApp OnCommand® system. With tiered storage that was a mix of SAS and SATA disks, up to 67% deduplication on machine datastores, and thin provisioning, storage was tightly managed.

[For more details, take a look at the technical case study written by Jorge Pazos and Colby Cousens, technical manager of the City of Melrose. We also wrote a blog post previously on Forbes.]

 

The town of Essex has now outsourced its IT services to Melrose to save 33% in costs. Virtual machines serve all city departments, resources hosted out of the data center assist citizens, and schools gain by accessing files and virtual machines remotely. Melrose’s choice to reimagine IT not only reduced its own annual costs by 40%, but also dramatically reduced expenditures for towns nearby.

 

That’s what it takes to win a Top-100 award. Tell us about your innovation and/or tweet to #AskTheCIO to join the conversation on innovation.