The City of North Las Vegas almost disappeared during the financial crisis of the early 2010s that resulted from the Great Recession. A $152 million budget deficit threatened to strip the city of its charter. When a new mayor took office in 2013, he saw technology as one of the solutions to this enormous problem. With cost savings and efficiencies from virtualization, the city now serves its citizens better and has seen stellar growth in jobs, new businesses and new capital investment.
Doing More with Less
During the recession, dwindling IT staff had to support 100 square miles of territory, multiple offices that were 30 minutes or more apart, and a wide range of services from police to fire protection to public Wi-Fi. The city knew it needed radical solutions.
“We’re virtualizing everything,” said Adam Cohen, the city’s IT manager. “That makes us more agile and acts as a force multiplier” so that the city can accomplish more tasks with less staff. “VMware enables a 22-person North Las Vegas IT division compared to 70 or more IT staff at similar-sized municipalities.”
The city began by virtualizing most of its servers with VMware vSphere, running nearly 300 virtual machines (VMs) on Dell PowerEdge servers. VMware vSAN provides enterprise-grade storage on less expensive commodity hardware.
Mobile Data & VDI Helps City Staff in the Field
Virtual desktops based on VMware Horizon and vSAN enable enterprise virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). In the city’s fire department, for example, all firefighters have personalized VDI desktops, cutting paperwork and simplifying computing tasks such as training. “All of our apparatus have mobile data,” said City of North Las Vegas Fire Chief Joe Calhoun. “Those computers are linked with our dispatch center. On those computers we can get all the up-to-date information about previous calls to those locations. If we’re responding to a fire, we know where the hydrants are on the streets or near that house. That enables us to attack those fires more quickly and save a lot more property, and lives.”
“The technology has gotten to the point where it’s cost efficient and labor efficient. It’s a force multiplier for us. It’s a thing of beauty.”
—Adam Cohen, IT Manager, City of North Las Vegas
Dell EMC VxRail appliances give the city a pretested foundation for virtualization in critical environments such as the fire department. To simplify profile management and give users access to applications faster, the city uses VMware User Environment Manager (UEM) and VMware App Volumes. VMware vRealize Operations monitors the infrastructure and sends proactive alerts. Cohen noted that “Using VMware Horizon with UEM made an immediate impact where we could centrally manage the workstations. The firefighters had very fast and efficiently working desktops.”
High Security That’s Easy to Use for Government Data
To improve its security posture and save time for administrators, the city deployed VMware NSX for network micro-segmentation and uses VMware vRealize Log Insight to analyze network traffic and build effective firewall rules. “Being a government agency we’re under constant cyber attack,” said Cohen. “We need to be HIPAA compliant, PCI compliant, CGIS compliant. VMware NSX really helps us out in all those areas.”
Download the case study: City of North Las Vegas Transforms Itself Into a Hub of Economic Growth with Help from VMware.
Helping Businesses & Citizens Get Ahead
By the numbers, virtualization technology helped the city see an impressive 7,000 percent increase in jobs, a 2,000 percent increase in new business space, and a 4,000 percent increase in new capital investment. But library computer tech Joe Russo explained how VDI and new computers – many donated by power company NV Energy – are helping citizens, too.
City residents can do a number of online tasks on library computers, from web browsing to research for school projects to using Microsoft Office applications. Their information is secure with non-persistent desktops, and software can be managed centrally. “It’s so important to serve this community that may not have a computer at home, may not have a way to print at home,” said Russo. “I see a lot of the same people every day, and they tell me their stories, how this technology helped them. They say, ‘Hey, Joe, I found a job!’ This technology is just so much easier. We’re in love with it.”