Search
Close this search box.

Case Study

City of Borås

How the city employed modern, hyperconverged infrastructure to save money and the environment

Share now

Industry

Solution provided

The City of Borås had a robust, cost-effective virtualized infrastructure for its enterprise IT operations. There was a need for a future-proof solution to keep up with growing data volumes, while maintaining on-premise operations. The City of Borås manages most of its IT internally, using its own premises. This choice is not dictated by strategy, but rather treated as a financial matter.

Challenge

The City of Borås has extensive and positive experience from using hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) to power its on-premise IT operations. To ensure a future-proof solution, a technology refresh was called for, but without giving up the well-proven HCI concept.

The City of Borås manages most of its IT internally, using its own premises. This choice is not dictated by strategy, but rather treated as a financial matter.

The most notable difference is that the energy bill has become so much smaller.
Christer Katus, IT infrastructure team leader at the City of Borås.

Solution

“We can offer the same services to the city administrations as any cloud provider, but at a significantly lower cost,” says Christer Katus, IT infrastructure team leader at the City of Borås.

The city used to have traditional IT infrastructure, with numerous physical servers and standalone storage units. This essentially worked flawlessly when considering service delivery, but the team felt that daily operations had become too much of a burden.

In 2018, when a major infrastructure upgrade was due, the city encountered hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). This was a fairly new concept at the time, which promised to facilitate administration, and more benefits.

Hyperconvergence means that essential data centre devices are software defined, enabling them to be easily integrated. An HCI device can thus replace an array of products that have traditionally been dedicated to single functions: servers, storage units and network switches.

“We felt it was time to step up to a modern solution, and we noticed that there were hyperconverged solutions available that offered what we were looking for,” says Christer Katus.

 

Great power savings

The city settled for VxRail, a Dell Technologies HCI solution, delivered and deployed by Proact. One advantage is that it employs the same virtualization platform (VMware) that the City of Borås already used. Essentially all enterprise applications now run in this environment, which currently includes some 300 virtual machines. The solution composed of dual clusters with servers and storage, located in separate data centres to ensure failover capabilities.

A difference from the legacy server deployment was immediately apparent – that the new infrastructure requires much less space. In one of the data centres, which the city has used for many years, there are 12 cabinets for rack mounted equipment. Following migration to the very compact HCI devices, just three of these are used for operations. But the most notable difference is that the energy bill has become so much smaller, according to Christer Katus.

Switching to more energy-efficient infrastructure also counts as a sustainability effort – and the benefits from power savings multiply, as the latest generation of devices will operate without the extensive cooling traditionally associated with data centres.

Everything worked well from the start and the city’s positive experiences from operations meant that the new infrastructure could be further utilized over time. It has proved practical to virtualize more critical functions and offload them to the HCI cluster.

 

Proven redundancy

The City of Borås now has a fully virtualized enterprise IT environment. There are a few exceptions, such as systems that are not compatible with the server cluster load balancing. These need to be designated to run on a particular node.

“We have a strong focus on redundancy, and this applies all the way down to connectivity. So if one site were to fail, the virtual machines will automatically restart on the other,” says Christer Katus.

In one instance, the fibre connection between the two data centres went dead, an event which turned into a test: if the connection is broken, the servers should be automatically restarted at the other facility. It turned out that the failover procedures were indeed carried out precisely as intended.

Redundancy involves more than fault tolerance. It also enables maintenance and replacement of components during operation, without the users noticing any disturbances. The City of Borås has thus had no unplanned downtime for the IT infrastructure for six years.

 

Smooth change to new technology

Like most organisations, the City of Borås has experience from constantly growing data volumes. After six years with their first HCI setup, it was therefore time to future-proof the IT infrastructure. The concept of hyperconvergence was well proven by then, and the same could be said of the vendors. A major upgrade was conducted where one of the HCI clusters was replaced by a new Dell VxRail configuration, also delivered by Proact.

That the upgraded solution offers better performance may be obvious, but this is not solely due to the availability of faster silicon chips that we take for granted. A key difference is that the new storage architecture using the NVME interface is much better matched with the performance of SSD devices with extremely fast solid-state memory. Previously, memory management had to account for magnetic hard drives that could not handle data transfer at nearly the same speed.

A similar improvement can also be found in new storage area network based on ESA (Express Storage Architecture) which is optimized to take full advantage of the latest hardware. In addition to higher performance, it also enables better utilization of available storage capacity.

Coinciding with the infrastructure update, the City of Borås also acquired a NAS (Network Attached Storage) system as a complement to the hyperconverged environment. This offers lower cost storage, which is used for applications with large data volumes, e.g. video content from security cameras. The NAS solution is also very flexible and can easily be expanded as more capacity is needed.

“We experienced a painless transition. The new devices work flawlessly, and they are clearly built to a higher standard. We never had any real concerns about the environment,” says Christer Katus.

Benefits

  • Availability
    Extremely high availability through redundancy. Zero unplanned downtime.
  • Sustainability
    Small physical footprint and low energy costs.
  • Cost effective
    Hyperconverged solution with integrated functions simplifies infrastructure operations and maintenance.
  • Future-proof
    Infrastructure can be updated with the latest technology, within the framework of a proven architecture.

Key components

We experienced a painless transition. The new devices work flawlessly, and they are clearly built to a higher standard.
Christer Katus, IT infrastructure team leader at the City of Borås.

About City of Borås

With more than 114,000 citizens, Borås is the largest town in the Sjuhärad region in West Sweden, and the second largest municipality in the Västra Götaland region. www.boras.se

Explore more success stories

#ThePowerOfData

Proact helps City of Ostrava provide its citizens with faster and more reliable services
City district relies on Proact to improve its data processing
Powerful storage platform and convenient self- service portal boost productivity

Let’s start something great together!

By clicking Submit, I agree the terms and conditions outlined in the Proact Privacy Policy.

Get in touch

We would love to hear from you. Visit us, call us, join our social media community or send us a message.

By clicking Submit, I agree the terms and conditions outlined in the Proact Privacy Policy.