Microsoft Windows Azure - City Government Of Miami Improves Service Offerings Case Study


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Microsoft Windows Azure - City Government Of Miami Improves Service Offerings Case Study

  1. 1. Windows Azure Customer Solution Case Study City Government Improves Service Offerings, Cuts Costs with ”Cloud” Services Solution Overview “Windows Azure is the future for the City Country or Region: United States Industry: Government of Miami IT department.” Conrad Salazar, Project Manager, City of Miami Customer Profile The City of Miami encompasses approximately 36 square miles of land in southeastern Florida. Its The City of Miami, even when limited by a tight municipal government provides a range of services budget, looks for ways to improve the services it to more than 425,000 offers citizens. The city wanted to develop an citizens. online application to record, track, and report on Business Situation nonemergency incidents, but the application’s The city wanted to improve its applications that use powerful sophisticated mapping technology would require mapping technology. With significant computing resources. Further shrinking IT budgets, the city needed a solution that was constrained by long hardware-procurement cost-effective and scalable. cycles, the city needed a cost-effective, scalable Solution solution that would maximize its available The City of Miami chose the resources. The city developed its 311 application Windows Azure platform, along with Bing maps, to on the Windows Azure platform, taking advantage deliver to residents its 311 of scalable storage, processing power, and application, which takes advantage of sophisticated hosting provided by Microsoft. As a result, the city mapping technology. was able to reduce IT costs, improve the services Benefits it offers citizens, and deliver those services faster • Reduced IT maintenance than before. It also now relies on a cost-effective costs • Fast time-to-market disaster-recovery model, an important benefit in • Improved service offerings this hurricane-prone region. for citizens • Cost-effective disaster recovery
  2. 2. “[With Windows Situation Despite working with less The City of Miami in budget and fewer personnel, Azure,] we don’t southeastern Florida offers its the City of Miami’s IT citizens and visitors a tropical department prides itself on have to worry climate with beautiful beaches, improving services for citizens. about managing a a dynamic urban center, and a For instance, one service that wealth of cultural, historical, the city provides is the 311 costly and recreational attractions. nonemergency telephone line The city’s 3,600 employees used to record and track issues infrastructure and work in 83 locations and rely on reported by citizens. By dialing can focus on a centralized IT department to 3-1-1, residents can report provide reliable, cost-effective issues, such as potholes on the delivering new services. street, incidents of illegal dumping, or a missed garbage services that The IT department for the city collection. Residents are then positively impact has not been unscathed in the issued a service-request midst of a turbulent economic number to track progress of the citizens and our climate and must continue to issue to resolution. support the IT infrastructure To improve the 311 service, the and ongoing initiatives and IT department wanted to develop new applications, all of develop a Web application that which offer key services to would enable citizens to track Miami citizens. In fact, in three service requests online and years, the IT department went also see other requests in their from 104 personnel to only 80 area. The city had already and, by February 2010, saw its converted one of its zoning IT budget cut by 18 percent. In applications to Bing maps for addition, the city was asked to enterprise and wanted to further identify ways to cut replace some other outdated another 10 percent of its Internet mapping applications operating budget. Adding to this that disseminate the city’s challenge, the rest of the city is spatial data to the public. also operating under strict budgetary constraints, creating Mapping applications are a conundrum for the IT typically processing-power department. With its shrinking intensive, and the IT budget, the IT department has department was unsure that it witnessed a sharp increase in had the server load and the number of service requests computing power to handle it receives to deliver new new mapping applications. services, yet has fewer Compounding the issue, the resources to address them. City of Miami hosts and maintains its own servers and has a five-year life span on its
  3. 3. server hardware and necessary, considering its maintenance. The IT budget. department can only procure new server hardware once Adding to its server every five years and must procurement challenges, the predict server needs for five City of Miami IT department years in advance. must also take into consideration disaster However, it is difficult to recovery. In the hurricane- accurately predict load prone location, the IT requirements over a five-year department must ensure that it period with an IT department has enough server redundancy that regularly develops new to keep its infrastructure applications to support the city, running in the event of a leading to potentially under- disaster. supported applications and poor application performance. Furthermore, the IT department For example, the city previously struggled with an application purchased a storage area development process that was network (SAN) and originally time-consuming. Multiple estimated that it needed 4 environments ran on separate terabytes of storage for a five- servers for the building, testing, year period. Three years after debugging, and quality- the purchase, the SAN was assurance (QA) processes, and using 27 terabytes of storage— different team members were six times the predicted usage. responsible for each “We can’t always anticipate environment. To complete a what requirements will come project, developers had to up,” explains James Osteen, submit separate work orders to Assistant Director of each person in charge of an Information Technology for the environment. “To fix a few lines City of Miami. “As a of code—a task that should take government entity, we don’t 15 to 20 minutes—could take up have the luxury of upgrading to four days to complete,” says our infrastructure whenever Conrad Salazar, Project demand increases. We give it Manager at the City of Miami. our best estimate and hope for “Most of this time was spent the best.” At the same time just waiting for work orders to that the IT department was be resolved.” As a result, the IT concerned about under- department was occasionally performing applications due to slow to respond to business inaccurate estimates, it also needs. didn’t want to overspend and buy more server hardware than
  4. 4. To succeed at its mission to The city chose Windows Azure deliver improved services to over other cloud services Miami residents while remaining providers based on several a cost-effective, efficient factors. First, the city already organization, the IT department supports its infrastructure with needed a solution that would Microsoft products and offer enough processing power technologies, including the and storage to host Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5. applications with sophisticated “The bottom line is that we mapping technologies. Any have a very small budget and solution would also need to very few individuals supporting provide the ability to scale up our infrastructure, so we have and scale down—without to be very careful and minimize requiring near-impossible the number of platforms we use accurate predictions for to make the most of our processing power and server investment—and we do that load over a five-year period. In with the Microsoft platform,” addition, the organization says Osteen. Second, the City wanted a solution that would of Miami chose Windows Azure help simplify and speed its because the IT department had application development and recently evaluated the beta 2 deployment processes. release of the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 development Solution system and was impressed In an effort to address its needs with its seamless integration for a scalable, cost-effective with the development fabric in solution that would yield Windows Azure. (The significantly more processing development fabric simulates power, the City of Miami chose the Windows Azure the Windows Azure platform environment on a local from Microsoft. Windows Azure computer so that the city can is a cloud services operating run and test a product locally system that serves as the before deploying it.) Finally, the development, service hosting, city based its decision in part and service management on the pay-as-you-go pricing environment for the Windows model for Windows Azure, Azure platform. Windows Azure which it found attractive provides developers with on- considering the budget demand compute and storage challenges it faced. “The to host, scale, and manage pricing model is easy to Web applications on the understand and calculate, Internet through Microsoft data which was a huge advantage centers. over other cloud offerings,” adds Osteen.
  5. 5. powerful mapping applications Powerful Mapping Technology in a that require significant Scalable Solution computing power. The City of Miami teamed with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner The City of Miami used an off- ISC, a provider of rich, the-shelf product from ISC interactive mapping software called MapDotNet UX, which for geospatial visualization and provides rich, interactive analysis, to develop the city’s geospatial visualization and 311 application, which is hosted analysis. The latest version of entirely over the Internet. With MapDotNet UX is built the nearly limitless processing specifically for Windows Azure power offered by Windows and includes prepackaged Web Azure, the City of Miami can services and a template for the easily implement more Microsoft Silverlight 3 browser plug-in that integrates with Windows Azure storage services and with Bing maps for enterprise. The city uses Blob Storage to store spatial data, originally in a common shapefile or Keyhole Markup Language Built on Windows Azure, the format, which are both popular Miami 311 application enables formats for geospatial data. citizens to report and track nonemergency incidents. Easy Development and Deployment Developers at the City of Miami are excited about the development experience with Windows Azure. They can take the Silverlight template and compile it to a local development fabric. Then, they can extend application functionality or deploy it directly to Windows Azure. “With a local fabric, developers are able to quickly promote applications between development, staging, and production environments. They can do everything from their local instance, which results in quicker delivery of solutions to our clients: the citizens and businesses,” says Osteen.
  6. 6. “The pricing model positioning system location, and In addition, with the a description directly from their is easy to development fabric of Windows Windows phone or Apple Azure, applications are isolated iPhone. In addition, the city understand and from one another and could send status updates and calculate, which developers are not concerned notifications to users by e-mail about new applications or message or short message was a huge feature upgrades interfering service (SMS). “Windows with existing applications. This Azure is the future for the City advantage over also helps make for a cost- of Miami IT department,” sums other cloud effective solution when the city Salazar. is procuring server hardware. offerings.” “With our five-year purchasing Benefits cycle, we had to make sure to By using the Windows Azure put as many compatible platform, the City of Miami services on one server,” efficiently implemented its 311 explains Salazar. “When we nonemergency response made upgrades, it could cause application. The scalable us to spend more time solution, which has near modifying and fine-tuning our limitless storage and code because we’d find that processing power, enables the the applications interfered with city to reduce costs—critical to an existing production the department’s success in a application. Because Windows global economic crisis. In Azure isolates applications, we addition, the city is able to bring don’t have to worry about that new applications to market and have much cleaner more quickly and has improved deployments.” its ability to offer new, enhanced services to Miami Opportunities for Future Development residents. And by relying on The cost-effective solution and hosting at Microsoft data easy development and centers, the hurricane-prone deployment processes open city improved its disaster- the door for the IT department recovery strategy. at the City of Miami to continue enhancing existing services and Reduced IT Costs developing new services for With a tight IT budget that citizens. After the initial launch continues to shrink, the City of of the 311 solution in March Miami runs lean IT operations 2010, developers plan to add and relies on an easily more functionality to the managed IT infrastructure. With application, including the ability Windows Azure, the city can for users to submit service eliminate much of its need to requests with photos, global procure, host, and manage its
  7. 7. “With Windows own physical servers— Azure, developers can build and representing a 75 percent deploy applications from the Azure and the savings in the first year over same local instance, eliminating hosting the application on the need for an unnecessarily ability to deploy premises. It also does not need protracted testing, debugging, locally, we’re able to redirect valuable developer and QA process. As a result, resources or hire additional the IT department is able to to speed up our staff to deploy and manage the deploy new solutions to citizens server infrastructure. Instead, quickly. “We already had an time-to-market.” because the solution is hosted efficient development team, Conrad Salazar, Project by Microsoft, the city can rely and developing in Windows Manager, on enterprise-class service for Azure is equally as fast since City of Miami maintenance tasks. we already use Visual Studio 2010, the C# programming The ability to scale vertically language, and the .NET and horizontally also enables Framework,” explains Salazar. the IT department to reduce “However, with Windows Azure costs. Instead of running the and the ability to deploy locally, risk of buying too much server we’re able to speed up our hardware during its five-year time-to-market.” procurement cycle, the city can now forego an often inaccurate Greater Ability to Offer New Services to process for estimating storage Citizens and processing needs, and Citywide budget cuts mean that simply use, and pay for, what it fewer personnel are trying to needs to run its applications. accomplish more with fewer During peak traffic, such as resources, including looking for during hurricane season, the ways to automate processes city can increase its server while still improving services. capacity in the Windows Azure “Even though the IT environment and then scale department is equally affected down when the peak period is in terms of budget, everyone over. relies on technology even more in a budget crunch,” says Fast Time-to-Market Osteen. “With Windows Azure, Previously, developers at the we’re relying on a trustworthy City of Miami had to use several solution—everything is hosted at different development Microsoft in data centers in environments, each managed multiple geographic locations— by a different team member, to make things simpler for our causing delays in the amount of organization. We don’t have to time it took to deploy worry about managing a costly applications. Now, with the infrastructure and can focus on development fabric in Windows delivering new services that
  8. 8. positively impact citizens and Improved, Cost-Effective Disaster our organization.” Recovery The Miami area is often faced with destructive hurricanes, and while there is a recognized hurricane season, the storms are unpredictable. Previously, the IT department for the city had to ensure that it had enough servers for disaster- recovery purposes, resulting in a number of extra, underused servers during periods of low demand. With Windows Azure, the city is not only confident in its disaster recovery across Microsoft data centers, but it will also be able to eliminate the need for unused server hardware previously used in the event of catastrophic events, such as hurricanes, further avoiding unnecessary expenses for the city and its citizens.
  9. 9. For More Information Windows Azure Platform control for REST Web For more information about The Windows Azure platform services. Microsoft products and provides an excellent • Microsoft SQL Azure. Microsoft services, call the Microsoft foundation for expanding online SQL Azure offers the first Sales Information Center at product and service offerings. cloud-based relational and (800) 426-9400. In Canada, The main components include: self-managed database service built on Microsoft SQL call the Microsoft Canada • Windows Azure. Windows Azure Server 2008 technologies. Information Centre at (877) is the development, service 568-2495. Customers in the hosting, and service To learn more about the Windows United States and Canada management environment for Azure platform, visit: who are deaf or hard-of- the Windows Azure platform. hearing can reach Microsoft Windows Azure provides text telephone (TTY/TDD) developers with on-demand services at (800) 892-5234. compute and storage to host, Outside the 50 United States scale, and manage Web and Canada, please contact applications on the Internet your local Microsoft through Microsoft data subsidiary. To access centers. In addition, Windows information using the World Azure serves developers’ Wide Web, go to: connectivity needs through the following services. • Windows Azure AppFabric. For more information about Windows Azure AppFabric ISC products and services, enables users to build and call (850) 893-6741 or visit the manage applications more Web site at: easily both on-premises and in the cloud. For more information about 〉 The AppFabric Service Bus the City of Miami, call (888) 311-3233 or visit the Web site connects services and applications across at: network boundaries to help developers build distributed applications. Additional Resources: 〉 The AppFabric Access Control Download: Windows Azure Tools and SDK provides federated, claims-based access View: Architecting and Developing for Windows Azure Software and Services • Microsoft Visual Studio • Windows Azure Platform − Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 − Windows Azure • Technologies − Blob Storage − Microsoft .NET Framework • Bing Maps for Enterprise 3.5 − Microsoft Silverlight 3 This case study is for informational Partners purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO • ISC WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published February 2010