Green IT Enables a Thriving Technology Center

By Chelo Picardal Print this article Print

The city of Bellevue strengthened its IT infrastructure and invested in storage consolidation and server virtualization technologies that could deliver content-rich services to its citizens.

By Chelo Picardal

Meeting the demands of a growing and thriving technology center requires a strong, efficient and agile IT foundation. Once a small suburb of Seattle, Bellevue is now the fifth largest city in Washington state, with a population of more than 122,000, and it has been called one of the most livable cities in America. Incorporated in 1953, Bellevue is a high-tech hub that delivers content-rich services to its citizens—from online access to permitting processes to video capture for community events to an online traffic-flow map—driving the need for a robust technology infrastructure.

As CTO for the city of Bellevue, my technical responsibilities encompass network and server infrastructure, technology strategies, enterprise architecture, technology standards and security. My ultimate goal is to use technology to solve tough problems, make operations more efficient, and help the people of Bellevue connect, engage and explore.

My team and I took a deliberate approach to strengthening our IT infrastructure and investing in technology that could transport the city into the future. The first step for my team, which consists of 10 full-time IT systems and network administrators, was to assess the challenges we faced.

The Challenge

As state and local governments continue to face tight budgets and demands for more or improved services, managing growing data volumes and meeting aggressive service-level agreements becomes a daunting challenge. We don’t have the budget to continually purchase new storage capacity and hire the IT staff to manage the growing infrastructure. On the other hand, simply counting on existing resources to meet growing needs was not a sustainable solution.

For the city, the transformation to a thriving high-tech hub required an optimized IT infrastructure to support online city services, an extensive application portfolio to manage city operations and 35 percent annual data growth—all while lowering costs to meet budget reduction targets and staying committed to green IT. To meet these goals, we embarked on a multiyear data center and operations upgrade that reduced environmental impact as part of the city’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI).

Bellevue’s ESI effort focuses on developing a community whose decisions and actions explicitly integrate and balance economic, ecological and social impacts with the stated goals of working toward sustainable operational practices; engaging employees, residents and businesses in sustainable practices; and building on the city’s reputation as an environmental innovator and leader.

To effectively support the city’s growth, we needed to replace a seven-year-old storage infrastructure that was maxed out on processor capacity and rethink our expanding server farm. Not only did the existing system make it difficult to expand storage and attach new systems, but performance requirements could not be met, causing the city to have less than a year of storage capacity left.

We outlined a storage consolidation and server virtualization strategy that required deduplication and other storage efficiency technologies, plus replication technology to meet the stringent recovery point objectives (RPO) of critical systems for our disaster recovery needs. 

This article was originally published on 2012-06-14
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