Town of Newington, Connecticut
Town government simplifies IT with OmniCube hyperconverged infrastructure to deliver mission-critical applications
The Town of Newington, population of 30,000, is located just south of Hartford, Connecticut. The town’s dedicated IT team of five provides 24/7/365 services for 21 different departments, including public safety. The IT department consists of two on-campus data centers, with 200 full-time users and multiple applications. Like many town IT departments, providing seamless, efficient service to police, fire, and EMS services, and transparent access to information for all citizens has always been a priority for the Newington team.
BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Technology Refresh, Data Protection, and Data Consolidation
The Town of Newington’s IT department faced an infrastructure that was becoming increasingly complicated. As the IT environment continued to expand, more ports, connectivity, interconnects, and cabling meant that the team of five was fighting a constant uphill battle when trying to diagnose system issues. In addition to this, the Town of Newington’s host count was growing along with the VM app and storage growth.
For a while, the team had been planning a technology refresh for the servers and storage of multiple HP servers and a HP LeftHand SAN (P4500). The team’s two data centers were quickly running out of space, and with nine out of 15 possible TB used up, it was only a matter of time before further scaling would be necessary.
The town’s backup and DR capabilities had grown outdated and required an upgrade. For years, Newington had been using IBM TSM and a complex, manual LTO tape rotation process for backup and DR. However, upgrading this system would have entailed a complete restructure of the backup solution and reconfiguration of all backup jobs. The IT team was tasked with finding the best virtualized, automated platform that would offer disruption-free backup and DR with minimized upkeep.
“We were in the process of planning a tech refresh, but like any IT project, there’s always something that comes along to derail that,” said Paul Boutot, CIO for the Town of Newington. When the Newington Chief of Police submitted an IT project request for a mission critical application for Computer Aided Dispatch and Records Management, the team found itself at a pivotal crossroad. In order to support the mission critical application, Newington would either have to expand its already complicated infrastructure or look for an alternative.
“We would have had to look at bringing [the Chief of Police’s] solution online which would have meant a lot of new servers, a lot of new services on the existing infrastructure, or move our timeframe for the tech refresh up to find a solution,” said Boutot. Also, the Town was facing other IT initiatives, such as a new Active Directory build out and a Windows 7 refresh, which would additionally strain and complicate the infrastructure.
After careful consideration, the IT department elected to look for a new, hyperconverged infrastructure that would provide disruptive-free backup and easy scalability, all while saving space and reducing complexity in the IT environment.
At the beginning of the search, Boutot and his team had agreed that the solution had to be easy to use and manage by the entire staff and have a small data center footprint. “During my research, I wanted to find something that we could install, setup and manage without having to have Cisco, HP or VMware certified engineers,” said Boutot. With the veteran staff consisting of one network administrator, two application/network specialists and a GIS technician, universal accessibility was a priority for Boutot.
“One of the things I wanted to find for my staff was a solution that would minimize troubleshooting and minimize data connectivity required in the data center,” said Boutot. “Even though we had been virtualized since VMware 2.5, you start adding components and creeping back up in terms of physical storage.”
Initially, the Newington IT team evaluated solutions from Tegile and Pure Storage, but was dissuaded by the additional equipment that would have to be purchased. To implement either solution would have meant buying additional servers and switches—the team was committed to implementing 10GbE connections in the data centers. The search was then narrowed down to SimpliVity and Nutanix. While Nutanix’ solution is similar to SimpliVity’s, it lacked inline deduplication efficiency and required managing the storage on a separate front—a caveat that the Newington team was not fond of. In the end, the team chose the OmniCube Data Virtualization Platform for its integrated VMware management features, hyperconverged infrastructure with data efficiency and easy scalability.
“One of the nice things we really liked about the SimpliVity solution was that all administration is done within VMware’s vCenter,” said Boutot. “The plug-in allowed us to not only view performance for each data center but also allowed us to view performance per virtual machine—a very nice, slick and clean interface.”
After a short, painless installation, the Newington IT team moved all of its production servers from the HP Server and LeftHand storage over to the new, hyperconverged OmniCubes within its data centers. In doing so, storage went from about 10TB used to 5.9 through inline deduplication and compression alone—a 40 percent automatic efficiency improvement. “We were basically at about 10TB of data used on our network on our existing environment,” explained Boutot. “I think we had the capability to go up to somewhere around 15TB—at which point we would have had to start looking to buy new hardware. We saw the advantage of deduplication and compression as we moved our data to the OmniCubes.” In addition, the IT team also managed to save a significant amount of space within its data centers. “We were able to minimize our data cabling,” said Boutot. “We went away from the traditional solution that we had, server and storage, and we collapsed over 36 data cables per data center and replaced them with the 10GbE connections back to our switching gear.”
For DR, the team now does rapid backups with the OmniCubes in addition to a Unitrends, disk-based system already in place—a major step up from the previous LTO tape system. This method will be easily scalable in the future. Additionally, the Town of Newington expects to leverage OmniCube support for cost effective, secure, off-site backup to the cloud whereby they can treat the cloud as an extension of the data center to reduce cost and increase agility.
Today, the Town of Newington is enjoying a smaller data center footprint and greater data efficiency as a result of OmniCube’s hyperconverged infrastructure. Thanks to the Data Virtualization Platform’s inline deduplication and compression capabilities, Boutot and his team are saving in storage and capital (almost 3TB and $5,000 in recovered network infrastructure) that contribute to an overall decrease in CAPEX.
Backup and DR are now seamlessly integrated and automated with Newington’s existing VMware setup and run with complete transparency alongside the town’s mission critical applications. Public safety departments are no longer forced to endure sluggish applications during system backups thanks to OmniCube’s sophisticated DR capabilities.
Key benefits include:
- Ease of use, simplified troubleshooting for Newington’s small IT team
- A reduced data center footprint for energy savings
- Ability to manage backup and DR through existing VMware setup
- Easy scalability in modular increments via scale-out
- Improved backup and DR performance for end users
- A streamlined, hyperconverged infrastructure
- Increased cost savings