VMware Brings the Cloud to the Drought

With California’s drought entering its fourth year, VMware technology is helping scientists and legislators gain greater understanding of the impacts and develop more effective public policy for land and water use in the state.

Increased Pressure, Tighter Budgets

The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) supports 33 departments and organizations, including the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), Parks and Recreation, Forestry and Fire Protection, and Fish and Wildlife.  Historically, each department provisioned and maintained its own hardware and software, leading to over provisioning and inaccessible silos of data.

Under pressure to deliver more as the demands on the state caused by drought, wildfires, and other environmental concerns increased, the agency still faced tight budgets. Doing more with less became an imperative.

The agency’s IT director and DWR CIO, Tim Garza, turned to virtualization and the concept of the software-defined data center (SDDC) as the first step to improving the capabilities of the infrastructure, and ultimately delivering greater value for California’s taxpayers. Creating a shared services provider model based on software-defined architecture that could flex across public and private clouds would reduce cost, improve performance, and scale to meet the expanding needs of the state.

“By consolidating 30 disparate organizations’ IT infrastructures into a single, robust, private cloud-based shared services environment, the agency can effectively provision computer resources, services, and information as departments’ business demands grow and change,” Garza says.

Moving to the Hybrid Cloud

The CNRA is creating a unified hybrid cloud on the vCloud Air platform with vRealize Automation to move workloads. It’s delivered through the DWR, which is providing the shared IT services model and multi-tenant data center for all of the agency’s departments.

Using SDDC architecture based on VMware vCloud Suite together with NSX, the DWR virtualized 5,000 servers, reduced storage complexity, and improved service levels by dynamically configuring the infrastructure.

The new cloud environment provides a common infrastructure for all of the departments, with easy customization to meet specific needs, delivered more efficiently and quickly than ever before.

“With the cloud infrastructure, we’ve been able to provision within days, if not a day,” says Michael Hom, data center chief in the IT Infrastructure Services Branch for the DWR. “And that typically beats most of the service tools that each of the organizations have had.”

Faster Provisioning for a More Agile Agency

Leveraging the SDDC has created a more agile CNRA, able to respond quickly to change and opportunity. Virtualization has also increased the data center capacity by 300 percent, giving the agency the power to scale effectively as the demands grow.

There have also been significant cost benefits. Eliminating redundant equipment has allowed the CNRA to cut capital expenditure by 42 percent. And because it no longer supports multiple different data centers, the agency has seen a drop in operating expenditure—by 35 percent.

Big Data Analytics

Managing and protecting California’s natural resources has never been so important. Virtualizing and automating IT infrastructure enables the agency to move forward with initiatives, including an open-source high performance analytics system slated to be rolled out over the next six months.

The system will bring together a vast amount (11 petabytes) of data previously stored in spreadsheets, web portals, and databases. Agency departments will use the cloud to archive, access, and analyze this information. This gives scientists and researchers all the power they need to carry out more sophisticated data modeling and improve decision making.

“Information technology has played a critical role in enabling California to develop and deliver solutions to help mitigate the impacts of the drought and help residents and businesses meet the state’s goal for water use reduction,” says Garza.

As demands on the CNRA’s data center capabilities grow, VMware’s technology and partnership is making a difference in how the organization functions, succeeds, and plans for the future while reducing overall IT costs and improving performance.