Like a lot of American cities, the City of North Las Vegas (CNLV) was hit hard by the Great Recession of 2008. Looking to slash costs, improve operational efficiency and support a recovering but still fragile business ecosystem, the CNLV turned to VMware to modernize and virtualize its IT infrastructure, providing a force multiplier to overburdened government employees and helping the city complete a full economic recovery.
Cost-Efficient + Labor Efficient = “A Thing of Beauty”
That process started with virtualizing the city’s servers using vSphere backed by vSAN, a software-defined enterprise storage solution that powers VMware’s industry-leading Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) solutions. Run on commoditized x86 servers, vSAN reduces both complexity and cost, eliminating the need for expensive disk arrays and controllers as well as the time-consuming configuration of specific storage LUNs or volumes. Instead, admins can utilize storage policy-based management for a level of flexibility and efficiency impossible with traditional SANs. “[vSAN is] really powerful, really easy to manage. You don’t have to worry about LUNs and mapping things out,” says Ken Todd, a Senior Systems Engineer for the CNLV.
vSAN is also simple to scale up or scale out as needed, an important feature for a city attracting new companies and residents every day. And because it is designed to work with vSphere, it provides enterprise-grade performance with consumer-grade simplicity, enabling faster delivery of services with reduced staff overhead.
“Because it’s part of the VMware ESXi kernel, vSAN is very fast with little overhead. Compared with competing products, it is very easy to administer and provides great cost savings,” says Todd.
vSAN’s simplicity helped the CNLV virtualize much of its infrastructure, which included a move from desktop hardware to VMware Horizon 7 virtual desktops that offer better performance and easier maintenance and upgrade. That put an end to the backlog of over 100 desktop trouble tickets that regularly consumed the city’s IT department—all without forcing the recovering municipality to hire additional desktop technicians at a cost well into the six figures. Instead, the CNLV actually achieved six-figure savings. Over a three-year lifecycle, the city saved $100,000 for every 125 PCs replaced with virtual desktops.
With VMware vSAN, the CNLV IT department was able to cut costs, improve performance and increase infrastructure security despite being over three times smaller than IT teams at comparable metropolises. “We need to virtualize to be able to be agile, to meet these needs. And the technology has gotten to the point where it’s cost efficient and labor efficient—that it’s really a force multiplier for us,” says Adam Cohen, the CNLV’s IT Manager. VMware enables “a 22-person North Las Vegas IT division compared to 70 or more IT staff at similar sized municipalities,” he added.
Improve Service Offerings and Attract New Investment
The CNLV’s digital transformation not only cut operational expenditures but also attracted new residents and increased capital investment by streamlining processes like developer permitting and licensing. “Our digital transformation with VMware allows our employees to serve our citizens much more efficiently and with quicker time to market. When we need to roll out a new application for business licenses or building permits, for example, we can do that very quickly,” says Todd.
Simplified IT management has led to new and improved service offerings, including the expansion of computer access via virtual desktops to public libraries and recreation facilities for students, seniors and other residents without computers. Emergency services have similarly benefitted. “Virtualization has been so important in enabling us to get out from behind our desks and into the community, yet still securely access information when we need it,” says Joseph Calhoun, fire chief for the City of North Las Vegas. “We can access floor plans from our devices in the field and quickly strategize about how to attack a fire, saving more property and lives.”
All told, the CNLV’s digital transformation in partnership with VMware has helped the city rebound with a fully-funded, fully-balanced budget and no long-term deficit—the result of a 7,000% increase in jobs, 2,000% increase in new business space and 4,000% increase in new capital investment. In the future, the city plans to transition all of its virtual desktops to VMware Horizon and all storage needs to vSAN.
“We get more value by going with a single vendor for virtualization, and VMware is the clear leader,” says Cohen. “They’ve also demonstrated a strong commitment to our city and a belief that we would succeed, which you can’t put a price on.”