Fairfax County Achieves Savings and Performance Migrating to Nutanix
Nutanix reduces CapEx and OpEx while ensuring dependable citizen services
Public Sector, Manufacturing
- Flexible hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) enhances performance and scalability of county databases and services
- Centralized management replaces five monitoring tools with single pane of glass
- Nutanix Life Cycle Manager (LCM) accelerates patches and upgrades
- Nutanix Hybrid Cloud Platform
- Nutanix Prism management solution
- Nutanix LCM
- SAP ERP
- Tax Department Systems
- Public Safety Applications
With 1.2 million residents, Fairfax County, Virginia is the largest jurisdiction within the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Its IT team relies on its infrastructure to deliver the public services that citizens expect, from tax payments to business licensing, public safety, county records, and more. For years, the County had maintained separate compute and storage infrastructures, which provided adequate performance but were inefficient—and expensive to maintain. When the County’s IT leadership changed, the new CTO saw an opportunity to improve operations and invest in technologies that would future-proof the organization. The County migrated its siloed infrastructure to a Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure solution and realized immediate savings of 60 percent on power and cooling, while enhancing the performance of its SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
Nutanix lets us greatly reduce the complexity of managing storage and infrastructure separately. Once we retire our separate storage platforms, we will also be consuming much less rack space and power, which will result in significant cost reduction as well.— Gulzar Khan, IT Program Manager, Fairfax County
The Fairfax County infrastructure supports a workforce of 12,000 employees, providing access to the most critical applications and tools needed to respond to its constituents’ needs. However, its existing three-tier infrastructure from Cisco and NetApp was beginning to show its age, and infrastructure management required administrators to switch between different tools and consoles. In 2020, the County faced significant budget challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while experiencing escalating demands for IT services.
The County’s secondary disaster recovery (DR) data center also lacked the capacity needed to ensure maximum availability and 24x7 performance. After considering a variety of alternatives, the Fairfax County IT team chose the Nutanix Hybrid Cloud Platform.
Fairfax County replaced its existing network solutions with a dependable, highly available solution encompassing over 1.5PB of storage and 1800 VMs.
“We have a co-located deployment, with 34 nodes hosted on two platforms,” said Khan. “The move to the new environment went smoothly, and Nutanix LCM helped us configure it in three or four days. The automated process has freed up our administrators’ time, allowing them to focus on other tasks.”
The new Nutanix infrastructure provides a streamlined, high performance foundation for the County’s SQL server and Oracle databases. “Our SQL server environment is 100 percent on a virtual environment,” said Khan. “We have approximately 2000 databases running on SQL, and several Oracle databases as well. They utilize 100 percent solid-state drives (SSD), which accelerate read/write performance for our critical workloads.”
“The vast majority of applications are virtual,” adds Khan. “We have applications from 60 different agencies running on Nutanix, including our SAP ERP applications, ArcGIS, tax department systems, public safety applications, and more running on the new platform.”
To maximize the resilience and availability of these essential tools and resources, Fairfax County utilizes the Zerto disaster recovery solution running on Nutanix. The organization can easily replicate all its data to the secondary site, to support rapid failover and nonstop availability of services if an infrastructure issue arises.
Migrating to the Nutanix solution quickly unlocked real benefits in performance, ensuring that database administrators could consistently deliver the power needed to support the County’s most important services. “Our SAP team was very happy because they noted a significant performance increase in the system after migrating to Nutanix,” said Khan.
Deploying the Nutanix HCI also enabled the County to consolidate its server, storage, and fiber channel SAN network to a single, unified platform. The result was approximately a 35 percent reduction in hard costs, with an estimated 60 percent savings in power and cooling.
“Our Nutanix platform consumes only 3RUs, which saves us a great deal of data center space,” said Khan. “For us, many of the biggest efficiency improvements have been in simplifying storage management and deployment. We had 50 or 60 data stores in place before. Merging separate storage components with the host replaces that footprint with a consolidated, simplified solution.”
The Nutanix solution also enables Fairfax County to dramatically reduce costs as it frees up administrative resources. “We are using about half the resources that we used to use to manage the old infrastructure,” said Khan. “That’s quite a bit of savings.”
The unified storage infrastructure was especially helpful in enabling Fairfax County to migrate its employees to remote access when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.
“We are using Zscaler remote access solutions, and we had to rapidly spin up additional VMs to support more employees working from home,” said Khan. “The process was not time-consuming. We had a template, cloned it, and deployed it fast. The simplified storage configuration was a big difference, and saved us a great deal of time in provisioning.”
Ongoing management is smooth and nearly effortless, because Nutanix LCM has made software patches and upgrades simple. Instead of manually shutting down a Nutanix Controller VM and installing an update manually, LCM fully automates the process, and saves administrators time—while keeping the environment fully up to date.
If an issue with the solution does emerge, Nutanix support engineers are just a phone call away. “The Nutanix support team is excellent,” said Khan. “We work with support teams from Microsoft, VMware, and other major vendors, and Nutanix is extremely efficient, and one of the best we have.”
Fairfax County has established a strong foundation to drive new efficiencies and smart growth. The organization has recently begun a massive project to digitize its physical paper records and migrate many existing records to OpenText, clearing out multiple storage spaces and making its documents more accessible. Discussions are under way to move more than 10PB of files to the Nutanix platform.
Fairfax County is also taking the first steps to move its SAP applications from Oracle and SQL databases to an SAP HANA environment. The initiative will help the County further modernize its database operations, and Nutanix stands ready to support this initiative and many more in the years ahead.