How the City of Melrose Reached the Clouds with VMware on NetApp FlexPod


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Located approximately seven miles north of Boston, Melrose is a small
city with a population of about 28,000. Since its settlement in the 18th century, Melrose has offered residents a desir- able compromise between a crowded metropolis and rural Massachusetts. Predominantly residential, with exqui- site Victorian homes dating from the late 1800s, the city has a long-standing tradition of self-sufficiency, with excel- lent schools and cultural attractions.

However, the city’s IT infrastructure had become outdated. To achieve the growth and sustainability necessary for a more promising future, Chief Infor- mation Officer Jorge Pazos began to investigate what innovations were pos- sible within IT that could leverage exist- ing technology investments yet find new ways to generate revenue.

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How the City of Melrose Reached the Clouds with VMware on NetApp FlexPod

  1. 1. Technical Case Study How the City of Melrose Reached the Clouds with VMware on NetApp FlexPodAbstract This case study, written by Pazos and occurred. The fire department neededLocated approximately seven miles Colby Cousens, technical manager of mobile data terminals and GPS tracking,north of Boston, Melrose is a small the city of Melrose, describes how a and the police launched a crime analy-city with a population of about 28,000. NetApp® FlexPod® deployment enabled sis program with a back-end databaseSince its settlement in the 18th century, this small Victorian town in Massa- and automatic license plate reader thatMelrose has offered residents a desir- chusetts to connect 18 sites with a required storing thousands of compromise between a crowded regionalized private cloud that delivers We also had to make room for recordingmetropolis and rural Massachusetts. services to more than 300 municipali- all phone calls to public safety dispatch.Predominantly residential, with exqui- ties. The regional IT blueprint developed Adding more than two dozen securitysite Victorian homes dating from the by Pazos was prominently featured in cameras throughout the city requiredlate 1800s, the city has a long-standing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 8TB of disk alone. We weren’t confidenttradition of self-sufficiency, with excel- regionalization plan for IT (www.mass. in the reliability of our communicationslent schools and cultural attractions. gov/governor/regional). infrastructure, yet over 30 departments in more than 20 buildings depended onHowever, the city’s IT infrastructure Business Context it for daily operations.had become outdated. To achieve the In the fall of 2009, Melrose’s IT depart-growth and sustainability necessary for ment was managing a mix of 20 HP We began to focus on five key areasa more promising future, Chief Infor- and Dell servers locally and another 25 of concern:mation Officer Jorge Pazos began to spread throughout the schools. Each The age and dependability of ourinvestigate what innovations were pos- server had its own individual tape- switching/link speed between build-sible within IT that could leverage exist- based storage drive. Not only were we ings. The switching equipment ining technology investments yet find running out of space in our server room, place was nearing end of life, andnew ways to generate revenue. but also a tangle of cables was con- buildings were all connected to it necting everything together, and powerUltimately, Pazos was inspired to create with a coaxial I-NET maintained by and cooling resources were stressed.a regional IT center that could deliver Comcast. As a result, our network— Organizational challenges and dailyvalue-added services to several towns and in turn our productivity—was maintenance tasks were overwhelm-and cities surrounding Melrose by shar- affected by the weather. Without true ing. For example, we had to physicallying resources. The new model would ownership of the infrastructure, we change tapes and move them off-site todecrease costs and accelerate growth, had to rely on Comcast for diagnosis secure our backups.while enabling reinvestment of unused and repair.funds in programs for the citizens of At the same time, an explosion of inter- The rate of increase in our storageMassachusetts. est in technology and demands on IT demands. A newer generation of
  2. 2. Figure 1) Configuring backups in vSphere with NetApp VSC. workers brought a strong interest in did the need to house equipment in a solidating equipment that was previ- technology, and a desire to imple- secure, central location with network ously duplicated in multiple locations. ment numerous products required access and adequate power and additional data center resources. cooling to protect it. Looking toward We turned to ePlus Technologies for Products were sometimes purchased the future, it was apparent that the a recommendation on a data center without a full understanding of the cost of expansion in our facility would solution allowing us to bring our exist- costs associated with their deploy- become a burden equal to those we ing data, equipment, and services ment. Storage and backups were already faced with procurement and more efficiently into a single location. somewhat dispersed and therefore support of the equipment itself. The initial deployment was to fulfill our not entirely reliable, and many of needs internally and provide a basis the database applications required Meanwhile, budgets for state and local for the service of city and school tech- a level of performance that was governments around the country are nology requirements but had to scale hard to achieve given the resources under a great deal of pressure. As a and support the vision of a municipal and funding we could expect on an result, both state and local govern- cloud that could host the same for any annual basis. ments have taken a fairly aggressive of the surrounding cities and towns in Disorganized use of compute approach to squeezing out efficiencies, Massachusetts. resources and support agreements. sharing costs, and regionalizing ser- vices. All of those factors prompted us The project began with the consolida- In a rush to deploy services, some tion of two technology departments servers became overloaded, while to explore how we could consolidate operations intelligently. between the city and the schools and others ran almost idle. The percent- building in dedicated fiber to connect age of equipment with four-hour sup- As a first step to creating a workable all of the buildings back to a central port was not large enough to handle shared infrastructure, we initiated core switch. Next, we consolidated the all the critical applications our depart- the development of a private cloud, server infrastructure. ePlus introduced ment was required to manage. which provides the flexibility, scal- us to NetApp FlexPod, a predesigned Duplication of equipment and effort. ability, and security required to deliver base configuration built on the Cisco Technologically, the city’s infrastruc- a broad set of services efficiently and Unified Computing System™ (Cisco ture was divided into various areas: cost-effectively. UCS®), Cisco Nexus® data center independent head ends, network switches, NetApp FAS storage compo- cores, storage, and backup between New Infrastructure nents, and a range of software partners. city and school departments. Equip- The opportunity arose in Melrose to FlexPod is a baseline configuration, but ment purchasing, support, and com- upgrade the city’s network infrastruc- also has the flexibility to be sized and mon maintenance tasks were often ture; we replaced an aging, unreliable optimized to accommodate many dif- duplicated, simply because of the system with high-speed fiber optic ferent use cases. It would allow us to way our infrastructure had been laid links to 33 departments in 23 buildings increase capacity rapidly without having out over the years. within a land area of 4.8 square miles. to rip and replace expensive equipment No room to expand. As demand for This upgrade allowed us to begin con- down the road. services and support increased, so
  3. 3. Figure 2) FAS2040FlexPod for VMware® is built on the blade server system and is mirrored in in production out of three active tenantsFlexPod infrastructure stack with a redundant configuration in case of on FlexPod. All of our critical apps runadded VMware components, including equipment failure. Twinax cabling con- on this system, including Microsoft®VMware vSphere® and vCenter™ for vir- nects the 6120 to Cisco Nexus 2100 SQL Server®, our financial system, Webtualized application workloads. fabric extenders in the Cisco UCS 5100 servers, domain controllers, police blade chassis. We currently run two dispatch, and Microsoft ExchangeCompute Environment B250 M1 blades with 96GB of RAM 2010. Test environments are not dif-A Cisco Nexus 7010 provides core apiece and are in the process of install- ficult to configure, and we make use ofrouting at the data center in City Hall. ing an additional blade. the infrastructure for this purpose asHaving all of our links passing through well. We maintain one physical domainthis core NetApp agile data infra- VMware controller with all of our essentialstructure provided a pivotal storage The blade server connects to our stor- management tools in case of failure orresource for segmenting, securing, and age environment on the back end, and downtime.deduplicating a diversity of data. This the VMware hypervisor and manage-combined with virtualization technology ment software sits on top, allowing NetAppfrom VMware allowed the city to further us to configure and administer virtual Our deployment currently consists ofreduce operational costs by consolidat- machines. There is a strong integra- a FAS2040 dual-controller HA con-ing compute resources onto Cisco UCS tion with both Cisco UCS servers and figuration with two shelves and a FibreB250 M1 blade servers. NetApp storage through the vSphere Channel–connected DS14MK4 and client. NetApp provides a virtual stor- SAS-connected DS4243 for a total ofCisco age console plug-in for vSphere that 12TB of space (see Figure 2). PlansThe core of our network routes through allows us to configure backups, mir- exist to add a FAS2240 and cascadea Cisco Nexus 7010 with 32 single- roring, and alerts very quickly from the FAS2040 to a disaster recoverymode fiber optic small form-factor plug- the same interface, where we perform location we are in the process of popu-gables (SFPs) and multiple virtual routing most daily tasks with virtual servers and lating to completely support the primarytables to securely segment networking desktops (see Figure 1). site in the event of failure or serviceaccess and keep data center tenants interruption.separate. Connections pass directly into The organizational structure of our vir-their respective tenancies using VLANs tual environment in the vSphere client Significant storage management isor individual physical connections, makes it easy to denote servers, virtual provided through the vSphere client,but no tenant has access to another’s desktops, and infrastructure virtual but NetApp OnCommand® Systemresources using the network. Server traf- machines or appliances across multiple Manager is a very popular tool in ourfic passes through VLANs on a 10GB tenants and assign management per- data center as well. Our shelves are alink through a data center switch into the missions using role-based access. We mix of SAS and SATA disks, and weCisco UCS 6120XP fabric interconnect. are currently running close to 40 virtual tier our storage based on performanceThis device provides all the management servers and have deployed about 30 requirements. CIFS shares sit in anand configuration for the Cisco UCS thin clients that access virtual desktops aggregate full of dedicated SATA disks,
  4. 4. Figure 3) Example dedupe rate on a small virtual machine datastore.while VMDKs and database LUNs get other equipment to arrive. It was helpful participated in the deployment as partthe higher performance SAS drives. to have the freedom to deploy parts of of a training program to gain familiar-Storage efficiency is extremely valu- the solution and begin to migrate our ity with the equipment and processesable, and we use it extensively, observ- environment on a flexible schedule as it required to manage the system. Ciscoing up to 67% deduplication on virtual aligned with maintenance windows. provided training credits, and duringmachine datastores (see Figure 3). the third week of deployment, Cisco Week 1: NetApp FAS2040 Installation offered a data center training courseThin provisioning adds some breathing The physical racking and cabling of the focusing on Cisco UCS blade serverroom as well, allowing us to overcom- hardware and integration of our envi- management. The removal of old serv-mit volumes to meet application system ronment took two days. Another two ers and cabling significantly decreasedrequirements and monitor and alert days were spent configuring software data center footprint and powerwhen actual physical size approaches and installing management clients. At consumption.limits. We manage our storage tightly; this point we began to migrate storageflexible volumes with autogrow configu- to the iSCSI volumes and CIFS shares. Week 7: Training and Familiarityrations and detailed alerts on abnormal ePlus stayed on after the deploy- Weeks 2–3: Cisco Switchingrates of increase allow us this luxury. ment to help the technical staff gainA system like this really highlights the As we implemented FlexPod, we familiarity with our new private cloud.inefficiencies of storage in a direct- installed our new fiber optic network, Administration of a virtual environmentattached scenario (see Figures 4 and 5). replacing all core switching and deploy- was new here, but participation in the ing a number of Cisco® edge solutions deployment and valuable instructionWith FlexPod in place, the city of Mel- to bring buildings onto the new net- that followed brought our team up torose can act as a managed service work. ePlus set up multiple VRFs and speed quickly. Nearing two years post-provider, delivering IT infrastructure VLANs on our Cisco Nexus 7010 core implementation, our staff members areand applications to nearby towns. By router to separate internal network traf- as comfortable with the new infrastruc-regionalizing IT infrastructure, the city fic from the traffic generated by the ture as they ever were with the legacyof Melrose will save the county a lot school department. infrastructure.of money. The town of Essex, about Weeks 4–6: Cisco UCS25 miles away, has already reduced IT Current Use Cases Implementation and Trainingexpenditures by about 33%. Melrose With FlexPod in place, the city of Mel- Installing and getting the Cisco UCShas reduced costs by 40% annually. rose can act as a managed service blade server system online took about two weeks. ePlus performed all of the provider, delivering IT infrastructure andImplementation Process installation and configuration of ESXi™ applications to nearby towns. In earlyOur storage needs were more critical October 2011, the city signed its firstthan other parts of the FlexPod design servers as well as the Cisco UCS ser- vice profile creation. Physical-to-virtual regional partner, Essex, the time we were considering it. By outsourcing its IT services to the cityePlus technologies put our FAS2040 (P2V) conversions of our existing serv- ers brought them into the new virtual of Melrose, it is anticipated that Essexin place right away while we waited for will reduce IT costs by 33% annually. environment. Technical staff in Melrose
  5. 5. Figure 5) VMFS datastore overprovisioned.Figure 4) aggr0 157% committed with25% still available.Meanwhile, Melrose has reduced costs of remote locations. The schools in Best Practicesby 40% annually. Melrose served as our first multi-ten- Following are best practices we have ancy pilot and allowed us to leverage learned from our own experienceFollowing are the current use cases the benefits of internal communication, implementing a FlexPod architecture:for the FlexPod solution in the city of and the close proximity to test andMelrose and surrounding partners: gain feedback we could apply to future Mix SAS and SATA disk shelves andInternal Hosting and Services deployments. Our user base consists manage your data according to per- of about 3,700 students and 1,000 formance requirements to save cost.Our data center hosts all the files and staff members. About 1,300 worksta- Consider Flash Cache or Flash pool-services for roughly 300 internal users. tions use the network daily to access ing to accelerate read and write timesAll file storage resides in CIFS shares resources in our cloud. We have since on less expensive disks.on the SAN. Virtual machines serve added a tenancy for the town of Essex, Build virtual templates. P2V conver-domain services, applications, and Massachusetts, and currently host both sions help to quickly migrate yourdatabase products to all city depart- files and virtual servers for the local environment onto new infrastructure,ments, from engineering to public government of an 8,0000-citizen com- but virtual machines deployed from asafety. We manage and deploy virtual munity. A consolidated infrastructure single template that was developedmachines through the VMware vSphere and economies of scale allow us to in a virtual environment achieve muchclient and storage using NetApp reduce IT costs and improve the level of higher deduplication rates.OnCommand System Manager. service for all partners involved.Public-Facing External ResourcesMany of the services performed by SOLUTION COMPONENTScity employees offer resources for the NetApp Products NetApp FilerView®community’s citizens, such as assess- NetApp FAS storage systems Management Softwareing or inspecting data, GIS mappingonline, permitting online, recreation NetApp Data ONTAP® 8 NetApp FlexClone®program enrollment, Web sites, NetApp Snapshot™ NetApp RAID-DP®blogs, and other social media. Those NetApp SnapMirror ® NetApp Rapid Cloning Utilityresources are hosted out of our data NetApp FlexVol ® NetApp vFiler®center and help to provide information,enjoyment, and efficiencies to help NetApp Thin Provisioning NetApp Snap Creator™members of the community operate NetApp Deduplication NetApp DFMcomfortably and effectively. NetApp MultiStore® NetApp SnapRestoreMulti-Tenancy and Municipal Cloud NetApp SnapManager ® NetApp Flash CacheThe FlexPod architecture allows us to for Virtual Infrastructureprovision resources securely and host Protocols NetApp Virtual Storage Console 2.0 NFS, CIFSfiles and virtual machines for a number
  6. 6. “We are reinventing the way local government does business in the state of Massachusetts. This will enable us to speed the delivery of IT services, generate new revenue streams, and reinvest profit in programs for the citizens of Massachusetts.” Jorge Pazos Chief Information Officer for City of Melrose Maintain a backup physical machine ABOUT THE AUTHORS that is accessible remotely and has all of your management tools Jorge Pazos Colby Cousens installed. You should be able to con- Chief Information Officer, Technical Manager, nect to this machine using VPN and City of Melrose, Massachusetts City of Melrose, Massachusetts investigate any e-mail alerts or other Jorge Pazos is a public sector Colby Cousens has studied Business concerns about your virtual infra- CIO, with 17 years of experience, and Computer Information Sciences structure at any time. interested in emerging technologies at Bentley University and BostonFor More Information and their application in education University. He has been involved in a and government. He is always number of startup projects and sitsRead the business brief: striving to change the “business as on the board of directors for a small usual” mindset and is recognized as Boston-based corporation. With overour-story/customer-showcase/city-of- a leading figure in the drive to reduce eight years of experience in Munici-melrose.html government expenditures through pal IT, he has contributed to severalLearn more about city of Melrose: the effective use of technology. online publications, including Cisco Pazos has been quoted in numerous Blogs, and regularly pursues testing industry and business publications, and pilot opportunities for unreleasedLearn about ePlus: and market-leading technology. including a CIO Magazine white paper and the Boston Globe. HeRead more about FlexPod: also speaks at industry conferences, including the METAA/COSN CIO Cloud Conference and GovTech’sFind out how NetApp can help you build Digital Government Summita private cloud or buy cloud services: NetApp creates innovative storage and © 2012 NetApp, Inc. All rights reserved. No portions of this document may be reproduced without prior written consent of NetApp, Inc. data management solutions that deliver Specifications are subject to change without notice. NetApp, the NetApp logo, Go further, faster, DataFabric, Data ONTAP, FilerView, outstanding cost efficiency and accelerate FlexClone, FlexPod, FlexVol, MultiStore, OnCommand, RAID-DP, SnapManager, SnapMirror, SnapRestore, and Snapshot are business breakthroughs. Discover our or registered trademarks of NetApp, Inc. in the United States and/or passion for helping companies around the other countries. Microsoft and SQL Server are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. VMware and VMware vSphere are registered world go further, faster at trademarks and ESXi and vCenter are trademarks of VMware, Inc. Cisco, Cisco Nexus, and Cisco UCS are registered trademarks and Cisco Unified Computing System is a trademark of Cisco Systems, Inc. Go further, faster ® All other brands or products are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders and should be treated as such. NA-142-0812