For Jorge Pazos, CIO for the city of Melrose, Mass., a turnkey data center configuration offers flexibility the city never had before. The FlexPod system features Cisco Systems’ Unified Computing System servers and Nexus switches, NetApp storage and VMware server virtualization.
For example, Pazos found it fairly easy to establish temporary mobile communications in a trailer while Melrose renovated its police dispatch center. “We set up temporary communications in less than a day using virtual desktops in a UCS environment,” Pazos says. “If I had to do that again, I’m fairly confident we could come in and leave at the end of the day with everything set up.”
The unified infrastructure also enabled the city to quickly upgrade its public-safety system, which includes police and fire computer-aided dispatch and records management.
Ordering a server and getting it online used to take several days, says Pazos. “Now, we can upgrade our servers in less than 15 minutes.”
After the Melrose IT department deployed FlexPod in 2010, the city was able to virtualize more than 95 percent of its servers. “We got a really good server consolidation rate — about 20:1. Our host CPU utilization is about 15 percent and memory utilization is about 50 percent, so we have plenty of resources,” Pazos says.
Mark Bowker, a senior analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group, says these types of management efficiencies move IT departments toward turnkey systems such as Exinda WAN optimization devices.
“Data centers are expensive and complex, so anything that can take out the guesswork and save time is most welcome,” Bowker says. “Put all of that together, and it becomes very compelling for IT managers.”
Making Life Easier
In addition to unified computing systems, there’s an array of appliances that integrate software and management to make life easier for IT managers.
Jerry Vogel, IT network supervisor for the city of Lynnwood, Wash., says his team opted for a Barracuda Networks Message Archiver several years ago when the state mandated that electronic documents were legal public records. The city needed a more effective way to manage records and opted to focus on its expanding email traffic. At roughly $12,000, the price of the Message Archiver was more affordable than $59,000 for a full document management system.
“The Barracuda device makes copies and stores the emails in an easy-to-search medium; it’s a capability we’ve never had before,” Vogel says. “It took us four hours to get up and running with our Microsoft Exchange server, and the management interface is really easy to use.”
Lynwood upgraded two years ago to a Barracuda appliance that has 6 terabytes of capacity. Vogel says the unit should last the city at least three more years.
Where Turnkey Works
ESG Senior Analyst Mark Bowker says turnkey appliances have gained the most traction in these three IT areas:
- Line-of-business applications: Organizations that have large deployments of specific business applications can benefit from a solution that’s designed to optimize those applications. These optimized systems apply hardware and software patches and revisions, leaving the IT department to focus on monitoring infrastructure.
- Virtual desktop infrastructure: Many fully integrated systems now come deployed with VDI. Preconfigured solutions remove the burden of maintaining, tuning and troubleshooting the desktop delivery technology.
- Private cloud: A fully integrated turnkey system also suits IT organizations that have a clear, well-defined cloud computing strategy. Deploying this type of back-end appliance can boost service levels and efficiency, and improve resiliency and scalability.