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Gaining A Better City View

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The city of McKinney, Texas, needed better tools for monitoring application performance and stronger integration of disparate systems.

The city of McKinney, Texas, needed better tools for monitoring application performance and stronger integration of disparate systems.

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  • 1. Business need The city of McKinney, Texas, needed better tools for monitoring application performance and stronger integration of disparate systems. Solution The city deployed Foglight Application Performance Modeling (APM) and Toad Data Modeler from Dell Software to increase application visibility, speed troubleshooting and improve integration. Benefits • Better visibility into the city’s critical web and legacy applications • More-modern applications and services for employees and residents • Faster diagnosis and problem resolution • Proactive troubleshooting • Stronger integration of disparate applications • Ability to get more out of existing infrastructure Solutions at a glance • Database Development & Management • Performance Monitoring Gaining a better city view The city of McKinney, Texas, is using software-monitoring tools to get more complete visibility into applications and give employees and residents more modern services Customer profile Company City of McKinney Industry Government Country United States Employees 900 Website mckinneytexas.org “We need to know about problems before they happen, because in our environment, with police and fire services, it could be the difference between life and death. With Foglight, we can be more proactive and get ahead of problems before they occur.” Marcus Coleman, Infrastructure Director, City of McKinney
  • 2. 2 “We save time on system monitoring with Foglight, and that will free up more time for us. So even though we have a legacy infrastructure, we can still do a lot of innovative things.” Chris Chiancone, CIO, City of McKinney There’s a big buzz about McKinney, Texas, these days. The city of nearly 150,000 was twice ranked in the top-five best places to live in the U.S. by Money magazine in the past four years, and people continue to move there in droves. “It’s definitely not a small town anymore,” says Chris Chiancone, the city’s CIO. Chiancone should know. He leads an IT department that’s tasked with providing an ever-increasing number of services for 900 city employees and all the city’s residents. “Our team supports more than 200 applications, including critical applications for the police and fire systems, as well as miles and miles of network fiber and hundreds of switches and firewalls,” he says. As that infrastructure grows, it’s more important than ever that IT has the right software to monitor applications and diagnose issues quickly. “We can’t afford to have critical systems and applications go down, because then we can’t deliver the core city services we need to,” Chiancone states. However, the department’s existing monitoring tools didn’t offer enough visibility into systems and applications, and it was challenging to determine the root cause of application problems. Another challenge was the lack of integration in the city’s growing IT environment. “As a CIO in a modern municipality, I’m responsible for the technology in 30 different verticals, including fire and police, public works, engineering and water. But all the applications were disparate, and it was very difficult to monitor everything in a unified way,” explains Chiancone. “If there was an application failure, we’d have to use multiple logging tools to try to see what was happening.” Application-monitoring tools and updated data center technologies As the city’s IT staff began to look for a new monitoring solution, Chiancone suggested they consider Foglight Application Performance Modeling (APM), a software tool that combines application and database monitoring and infrastructure-performance monitoring in a single platform. “I had used Foglight in my previous job, and it always gave us a good view of what systems we had, how they were working and how they integrated into the overall environment,” he says. The city was also preparing to refresh the hardware in its data center. “We were looking for more manageability overall,” says Marcus Coleman, the city’s infrastructure director. To get a closer look at Foglight and new hardware, Coleman and other city IT staff members visited Dell headquarters in Round Rock, Texas. “I had suggested Products & Services Services Dell Software Professional Services Hardware Dell PowerEdge M610 blade servers Dell PowerEdge M1000e chassis Software Foglight Application Performance Monitoring Toad Data Modeler
  • 3. Foglight, but the IT team selected it on their own because they saw the visibility it provides,” says Chiancone. The city chose Foglight APM for use in monitoring virtual servers, databases, web applications, middleware and overall infrastructure. The software offers a real-time monitoring dashboard and provides automatic alerts to notify IT administrators of network or application problems. Coleman and his team also decided to implement two new Dell PowerEdge M1000e chassis, populated with PowerEdge M610 blade servers. “We were very impressed with the efficiency and manageability of the M1000e architecture,” says Coleman. McKinney worked closely with Dell Software Professional Services to implement Foglight. “They were instrumental in helping us set up all the Foglight modules, and in the future they’ll help us set up additional modules for monitoring our .NET-based applications and some of our custom applications,” says Coleman. “Our team can’t dedicate 100 percent of their time to implementing solutions, so we need to leverage the solution experts at Dell Software Professional Services.” The city also chose to deploy another Dell Software tool, the Toad Data Modeler. Using this cross-platform database-modeling tool, the city can connect multiple disparate databases natively and can easily reverse- and forward-engineer databases. The software also provides detailed reports on database structures. For further integration, McKinney is also planning to use the Dell Boomi AtomSphere integration platform as a service (iPaaS) as an enterprise service bus, an architecture model used for integrations between different applications. “Boomi will help us integrate a lot of our disparate systems,” Chiancone says. 3 Better application visibility and fast diagnosis of problems The City of McKinney has increased its visibility into critical city web and legacy applications with the Foglight solution. “We have a central pane of glass to view all our applications with Foglight APM from Dell Software,” says Coleman. “We can more easily troubleshoot an issue to determine whether it’s actually an application problem or an infrastructure problem, because Foglight allows us to view all the event logs to see the exact location of the incident.” With a better view of all applications, the city can diagnose application failures faster than before. “If we have any systems go down, our ability to deliver core city functions is compromised,” says Chiancone. “With Foglight, we can diagnose issues very quickly. That’s essential for us in terms of providing better services to city employees and residents.” A proactive approach to troubleshooting critical systems The city can also be more proactive by using Foglight APM. “We need to know about problems before they happen, because in our environment, with police and fire services, it could be the difference between life and death,” Coleman says. “With Foglight, we can be more proactive and can get ahead of problems before they occur. Ninety percent of the time there are indicators that an issue is about to occur, and Foglight gives us the ability to monitor those indicators effectively.” City IT administrators also have improved troubleshooting capabilities with the new Dell PowerEdge solution in the city’s data center. “What separates today’s hardware solutions is manageability, and the Dell PowerEdge solution has unique management capabilities,” says Coleman. “We can take advantage of the separate control module and the software that comes with the PowerEdge M1000e chassis to easily determine issues within the blade servers. We can also easily swap “Our team can’t dedicate 100 percent of their time to implementing solutions, so we need to leverage the solution experts at Dell Software Professional Services.” Marcus Coleman, Infrastructure Director, City of McKinney
  • 4. out a blade when needed and pop in a new one. So we can better monitor and control our server environment with the PowerEdge M1000e tools, and that will help us be more productive.” Offering city residents modern services As the city continues to grow, residents will be able to access an increasing number of modern applications, because the IT department will have more time to focus on application development. “We save time on system monitoring with Foglight, and that will free up more time for us,” confirms Chiancone. “So even though we have a legacy infrastructure, we can still do a lot of innovative things. For example, we have a new land management system that allows residents to do everything from paying for permits to scheduling inspections online, and we are doing some innovative things like geocoding mosquito traps to determine the migratory patterns of mosquitoes in the area. And once we have Dell Boomi in place, we’ll be able to offer more mobile opportunities using our existing systems, so we can give residents the ability to pay bills from their mobile devices. Our ultimate goal is to put people’s dreams on a screen, and I believe applications can do that. We have a better ability to deliver cutting-edge applications to our customers now.” Integrating disparate systems and getting the most from existing infrastructure Chiancone and his team now have an opportunity to bring together different applications thanks to the Dell software tools. “We can actually integrate all View all Dell case studies at Dell.com/CustomerStories 4 our systems more effectively with the Dell Toad Data Modeler, because with it we can reverse-engineer a lot of our databases,” says Chiancone. And in the future, the city plans to use the Dell Boomi solution for additional integration. “I can integrate a lot of our disparate and legacy systems using Dell Boomi AtomSphere,” Chiancone says. “The tool allows me to build a service bus around the organization, so all I have to do is rewrite the connection between the new system I implement and the service bus. There’s no rewriting all the way to endpoints across the board.” These capabilities will help the city get more from its existing IT infrastructure. “I’m always competing for resources against the core functions of the city,” says Chiancone. “So I can’t convince the city that middleware is more important than hiring 10 new police officers, or that a new data warehouse is more important than a new training center for firefighters. I can stick with our legacy technology longer using Dell Boomi, and then budget accordingly until the money is there for new technology a few years down the road.” McKinney is confident that Dell technologies will be a part of the city’s growth for many years. “Dell is on the right track in terms of delivering solutions to customers, rather than just delivering products,” says Chiancone. “That’s an important distinction, and it’s one of the biggest reasons for my strong confidence in Dell.” Dell, the Dell logo, Foglight and PowerEdge are trademarks of Dell Inc. Other trademarks and trade names may be used in this document to refer to either the entities claiming the marks and names or their products. Dell disclaims any proprietary interest in the marks and names of others. Availability and terms of Dell Software, Solutions and Services vary by region. This case study is for informational purposes only. Dell makes no warranties – express or implied—in this case study. Reference Number: 10013404 © August, 2014 Dell Inc. All Rights Reserved “What separates today’s hardware solutions is manageability, and the Dell PowerEdge solution has unique management capabilities.” Marcus Coleman, Infrastructure Director, City of McKinney