VMware Brings the Cloud to the Drought

With California’s drought entering its fourth year, scientists and legislators are gaining a greater understanding of the impacts and developing more effective public policies for land and water use.

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. Meanwhile, the CNRA was under pressure to address mounting environmental concerns, including droughts and wildfires, without additional budget. 

Agency CIO Tim Garza turned to virtualization and the software-defined data center (SDDC) as the first step to improving the capabilities of the infrastructure. Ultimately, this strategy delivered greater value to California’s taxpayers. The Agency could reduce costs, improve performance and scale to meet the expanding needs of the state with a shared services provider model based on software-defined architecture that could flex across public and private clouds.

“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 made a move to hybrid cloud computing to move workloads.

This is 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 technologies, the DWR virtualized 5,000 servers, reduced storage complexity and improved service levels by dynamically configuring the infrastructure.

The new hybrid 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 manager for the DWR. “And that typically beats most of the service tools that each of the organizations have had.”

Hybrid Cloud Benefits for CRNA

  • Agility: With the SDDC, a more agile CNRA is able to quickly respond to change and opportunity.
  • Scalability: Virtualization increased data center capacity by 300 percent, giving the agency the power to effectively scale to meet growing demand.
  • CapEx Savings: The CNRA cut capital expenditures by 42 percent by eliminating redundant equipment.
  • OpEx Savings: Because the Agency no longer supports multiple data centers, IT has seen a drop in operating expenditures by 35 percent.

Big Data Analytics

Managing and protecting California’s natural resources has never been so important. Virtualizing and automating the IT infrastructure enables the Agency to move forward with initiatives, including an open source, high performing 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 makes a difference in how the organization functions, succeeds and plans for the future while reducing overall IT costs and improving performance.