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Server Consolidation Saves County Millions

A county GIS department in Washington state is increasing the number of CPUs while cutting down on the number of physical machines. By leasing—rather than purchasing—these blade servers, Pierce County will save more than $2.5 million and meet its computing needs for the next three years.

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Pierce County GIS serves users in 25 county departments and 10 subscribing agencies.

Pierce County GIS is performing server consolidation. With more than 600 users in 25 county departments and 10 subscribing agencies, managing Pierce County's existing installation base of 14 UNIX servers and 14 Windows NT servers was an overwhelming task. The county also needed additional capacity to support ArcGIS 9. Pierce County estimated that 68 more CPUs were needed to support the existing user base on the Windows NT platform.

Pierce County considered eight-way server configurations, but the estimated hardware replacement/upgrade and additional capacity for three years for the county's GIS would be $2 million and would also require a full-time equivalent (FTE) staff person to manage the 20 machines and 98 CPUs.

To solve this dilemma, Pierce County leased an IBM BladeCenter System that will change the system configuration from 28 machines with 45 CPUs to 15 machines with 98 CPUs. The strategy reduces the number of physical machines that must be maintained as well as limits the software licenses, power, and floor space required while providing a system that will serve the county's needs for the next three years without upgrade or expansion. The benefits of this consolidation include

  • Increasing capacity while lowering the cost per CPU
  • Providing more cost-effective software licensing
  • Simplifying software architecture
  • Securing GIS database and Web map services inside a firewall
  • Adding GIS database redundancy
  • Avoiding annual capital expenditures through three-year leasing
  • Improving reliability through the use of standard hardware
  • Expanding support without enlarging current support staff of 1.5 FTE
  • Pierce County GIS will lease an IBM BladeCenter, a new storage system, and a new tape backup system.

The strategic importance of leasing the server consolidation is a three-year cost savings of more than $2.5 million in total GIS/IT expenditures as compared to purchasing an eight-way server configuration with equivalent capacity.

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