City invests in hardware to prepare for e-gov
Minneapolis has upgraded its technology infrastructure to better accommodate its desktop applications and to provide extensive online services. The low-maintenance servers will help the city streamline its computing environment.
Minneapolis’s impetus for updating its infrastructure grew out of its desire to provide residents with a flexible and accessible way to obtain information. Typically, if residents need information about vital records, public transportation, building permits, community services and hundreds of other government services, they need to visit the appropriate government buildings during normal business hours. That form of service delivery is prohibitive for many people, so the city wanted to move many of those services to the Internet.
About a year-and-a-half ago, the city began planning for an extensive e-government project, which will move as many services online as possible. During the early phases of planning, project developers realized that the city’s IT infrastructure lacked the power needed to put services online. Additionally, the city had more than 90 servers; if the city wanted to provide online services around the clock, the cost of supporting all of that equipment would be prohibitive.
Late last year, the city purchased two ES7000 servers from Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys to replace some of its servers. One server is dedicated to handling e-government transactions, and the other is consolidating City Hall’s applications, such as e-mail, data communications and desktop management, on a single platform. Now, the city’s IT staff will be able to access and manage between 10 and 20 applications on a single server.
“It was important for us to identify a hardware solution that could scale up to meet our online transaction processing demands as well as solve some of our real-life network infrastructure challenges,” says Chief Information Officer Karl Kaiser. “When looking at hardware alternatives, we searched for a versatile platform that could consolidate multiple applications, handle heavy workloads and provide 24/7 availability.”
The city has begun migrating applications onto the equipment, and it expects the city council and mayor’s office employees to be using the server’s desktop applications by the end of the month. In addition, the city is using the equipment to accept job applications and online payments for utilities, and it posts all property information on the Internet.
By the beginning of next year, the city will offer one-stop permitting through its Web site. It also is planning to create a 311 center for city information, which would be available via telephone and the Web.