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Boise Displays How to Consolidate Data and Increase Efficiency

January 04, 2013

Boise Displays How to Consolidate Data and Increase Efficiency

By Shankar Pandiath
TMCnet Contributor

When one speaks about data centers, our minds immediately conjure up an image of a place stuffed with storage systems, wires, controls and racks of equipment. But Boise, Idaho has been showing us how data can be consolidated and efficiently stored.

Boise is consolidating data in an unsuspecting closet with a single server and an electrical panel in the city’s 13 data centers. Currently, these data centers are located all over the city in libraries, remote offices and airports. The plan is to consolidate these data centers spread across the city to just three designated data centers located in Boise, City Hall and City Hall West. The other remote locations will be able to access the central data centers and share files. All this up gradation is sure to increase efficiency and speed.

To make the transition easier the city of Boise has purchased raw, dark fiber from Zayo Group (News - Alert), which is a telecommunications supplier. Currently, the city’s 13 core facilities are connected with this dark fiber which helps create a faster optical network. It accesses strands of fiber optic cable between city buildings in Boise. 

The gear, which is apt to light the network, is chosen by the in-house network engineers. The engineers carefully maintain complete control of protocol, platform and bandwidth that improves flexibility, speed and efficiency.

Fran Cantwell, an IT project manager for Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department, noticed improvements immediately after using the city’s online mapping system.

"Before, staff would wait for the system to slowly paint the screen,” Cantwell said.

 “After the dark fiber implementation, the maps load almost instantly. This greatly increased the efficiency of teams like Community Forestry, who refer to the maps and aerial photos daily."

"Professionals in city departments have reported a 3,000 percent increase in speed. Transmitting a 30-minute video once took two hours, but can now occur in as little as two minutes," according to Adam Reno, a Boise IT infrastructure services manager.

"Leasing dark fiber ensures that the City is always connected at the fastest speeds possible," Reno said, adding that any necessary maintenance is handled by their vendor. "We don’t have to repair the fiber strands when they break. That’s up to our fiber provider," he said.

The project was launched in June and was completed in four months. 52 miles of dark fiber was leased for just over $500,000 from Zayo by the municipality of Boise. It would have cost an estimated $6 million if Boise had to configure and operate a similar fiber network by itself.

With the help of this new dark fiber, Boise has started consolidating its remote data centers.

"The City has been looking at connecting its facilities with high-speed communications technology for a number of years. This finally became reality this past year and has proven very beneficial for many of the remote sites. This ground work is the foundation of a clear vision to do disaster recovery, data redundancy and failover of processing for the next 15 to 20 years,” Boise’s chief information officer, Garry Beaty said.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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