Miami Dade County

Topic : Team Efficiency
2500+ Employees

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County-Supported Public Services Run More Smoothly with Fabric Networking

Business Value

  • Significant increases in network speed, capacity, and agility
  • High reliability with greater flexibility
  • Savings on equipment, power, maintenance time/expenses, and total cost of ownership vs. competitive systems
  • Investment protection (immediate 10 Gigabit Ethernet and IPv6 Routing, with future readiness for emerging 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet connections)
  • Short skills transfer time for technicians, simplified maintenance
  • Full virtualization across data centers, making all applications available at every center
  • Integrated IP Multicast capabilities to optimize video surveillance at the Port of Miami

Recently, the award-winning Miami-Dade County Information Technology Department began a major upgrade of its data network by opting to strengthen the core with the Avaya Virtual Services Platform (VSP) 9000.

The County operates three major data centers that provide IT capabilities for many public and quasi-public services such as Transit, Police and Fire Departments, Water and Sewer facilities, Public Works, Waste Management, Public Defender’s Office, State Attorney’s Office, Child Support Services, and other functional areas. The County also provides IT support for hundreds of video surveillance cameras at the Port of Miami.

What Miami-Dade County Needed to Achieve

Conscious of the need to minimize costs and maximize results, Miami-Dade County undertook a major initiative to consolidate a vast amount of IT resources, spread across hundreds of sites, to three central data centers. According to Erick Gomez, Systems Support Manager for Enterprise Network Support, this approach was designed to reduce costs and enhance services.

“It was and is an excellent strategy, but it required a new way of looking at the IT infrastructure.”

Erick Gomez, Systems Support Manager for Enterprise Network Support, Miami Dade County

“An entirely different situation emerges when you start bringing all of the IT resources from hundreds of sites into centralized data centers,” Gomez says. “Traffic patterns that were running out on the edge, or that you didn’t see at all in the wide area, are brought back into the central core, and that drives a need for increased bandwidth because the densities are so much higher.”

The County soon recognized the need to upgrade its network to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) for additional bandwidth in the data centers. Gomez explains that the County leveraged its Gigabit Ethernet-based Avaya Switch Cluster configuration as far as possible and had to increase the overall aggregate bandwidth per link. So at the most basic level, they needed to perform a ‘speeds and feeds’ upgrade in the data centers to accommodate consolidation and growth.

There were other factors to consider as well. Gomez comments, “Virtualization is a huge factor in data centers currently, and when you are large enough to necessitate multiple data centers, the question that always comes up is, how do you pool all the resources from your virtual server deployments so that you can move and allocate resources from any data center as needed?” An important aspect of this for Miami-Dade County would be the ability to make the same network appear at multiple data centers, so that it would be possible to move servers around without having to inconvenience users or reassign IP addresses.

There was also the urgent need to facilitate the provisioning of bandwidth for internal customers. One of the services that the Miami-Dade IT Department provides, in addition to the data centers and VMware®-type functionality, is connectivity for many of the County’s public and quasi-public facilities. In that space, they had been getting by with VLANs and Resilient Packet Rings over SONET along with their basic Ethernet solution, but a different approach was required for customers who also wanted to acquire services from within the data center.

Why Miami-Dade County Re-Committed to Avaya

Miami-Dade County has opted to strengthen its existing Avaya platform by implementing an upgrade to the network core, deploying two Avaya VSP 9000 systems in each of its three data centers.

The VSP 9000 is an agile, streamlined, future-proofed Ethernet Switching solution that delivers high-performance, high-capacity, and high-availability for mission-critical data centers and very large campus core networks such as the Miami-Dade County system. Architected to scale up to 27 Terabits of capacity, the platform enables hitless patching, in-service software upgrades, and deterministic sub-second recoveries from failures—making it well suited to a broad-based public service environment where network uptime is a must.

Miami Dade County

The VSP 9000 system supports the Avaya VENA Fabric Connect technology, an open and extensible fabric networking technology based on the Shortest Path Bridging protocols standardized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as 802.1aq and by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as RFC 6329. Fabric Connect helps to simplify network creation and management by empowering edge-only service provisioning. It saves time/effort and reduces human error by dynamically building and maintaining the network topology between nodes using a Carrier-grade routing system called Intermediate System to Intermediate System (ISIS). Establishing a multi-path, Multiservice ‘Fabric’ for traffic distribution, Avaya Fabric Connect maximizes bandwidth utilization on all paths and executes seamless, sub-second configuration changes. Using Fabric Connect in heterogeneous networking environments, and as a bridge between private and public Clouds, enables seamless service delivery between data centers.

Fabric Connect is a key aspect of Miami-Dade County’s commitment to continue building its long-term IT vision on Avaya technology. Currently, the first step in the County’s technology upgrade is to install VSP 9000 technology at the core of the network that serves both public and quasi-public customers, in a deployment that is scheduled to go live in the latter part of 2013. As a second-phase of the project, the County plans to leverage Fabric Connect’s fully integrated IP Multicast capability in support of the hundreds of video surveillance cameras at the Port of Miami.

On a due-diligence basis, the Miami-Dade IT group considered a number of competitive systems. According to Gomez, among the various technologies the County looked at, the Avaya VSP 9000 – in combination with Avaya’s Fabric Connect technology – was the one that best fit their needs.

“When I looked at the solutions most other companies proposed to us, I saw greater complexity and much larger challenges.”

Erick Gomez, Systems Support Manager for Enterprise Network Support, Miami Dade County

“For the most part, I don’t agree with their approaches in the same way that I relate to Avaya’s direction,” Gomez continues.

“I think the philosophy at Avaya is ‘keep things simple’ and add complexity only as you may need it. This is the same approach that I saw previously with Avaya’s Switch Cluster technology. That was very powerful because it allowed you to get aggregate bandwidth in the closet, so that at Layer 2 it’s fairly simple to configure. I was a bit awed at first by their Fabric Connect concept, but when I actually saw how simple it is to configure and build, it made good sense,” Gomez recalls. “I especially liked the fact that troubleshooting—the O&M piece—was built-in.”

Operational, Functional, and Fiscal Benefits

Gomez feels that Miami-Dade County will realize many benefits through the new deployment, including the following:

  • The base requirement for increasing speeds and feeds in the data center will increase the ability to provide additional services at a higher rate and a higher capacity. The new servers will also provide up to 40% greater memory availability.

    “These increases in speed, capacity, and storage will help solve the problems that arise when you consolidate resources in a central data center,” Gomez states. “They are essential elements of providing the right end result to the customer.”
  • The new system will also offer much greater flexibility and business continuity/disaster recovery capabilities. Gomez states, “We’ll be moving away from the situation of only being able to provide a particular service in a particular data center. Instead, we’ll have the capability to move services around to all the data centers seamlessly, with minimal effort. That was an important driver for us.”
  • According to Gomez, pricing was highly competitive, resulting in cost savings for the County.

“From the competitive perspective, the overall total cost of ownership for the Avaya equipment, including all the flexibility and agility that we are getting, is quite good.”

Erick Gomez, Systems Support Manager for Enterprise Network Support, Miami Dade County

Miami Dade County

  • Consolidation of resources and virtualization across the data centers and remote facilities will also result in operational efficiencies and savings on power and licensing costs, based on economies of scale achieved by essentially bringing all services under ‘one virtualized roof.’
  • Investment protection is ensured because of the future-proof nature of the VSP 9000. The system delivers optimal performance with immediate support for very high-density 1 and 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and a full, high-performance IPv6 routing capability. Additionally, the platform is future-ready for the emerging 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet options.
  • Gomez states that training and knowledge transfer to the existing County engineering staff is not as intense as it would be with alternatives. “There is just a small gap to bridge between the knowledge that our technicians have now and what they will need to work with the VSP 9000 and Fabric Connect.”
  • Reliability is part of the DNA, with unmatched resiliency powered by a hardware-assisted implementation of the Avaya Switch Cluster capability. The platform provides real-time protection for control-plane integrity, constantly monitoring system health. It also features protection mechanisms that help ensure uninterrupted business operations.
  • Moves, adds, and changes can be performed quickly, and minimum time to repair (MTTR) will be significantly less.

    Gomez comments, “You have to engineer networks with a recognition of the fact that one day you’ll need to be able to troubleshoot, isolate, and decide what the issue is; the key is to be able to do this as quickly as possible. When you make the network overly complex, you’ve got to wait for a number of things to converge before you can figure out what’s going on. However, if you limit the amount of things that must converge, limit the amount of layers, and minimize the amount of layers you build your service on—as we are doing with Avaya Fabric Connect—the time to restore service gets much shorter.”
  • The new system will also provide support for the IT group’s circuit business, enabling them to provide customers with connections between buildings more easily, which in turn will enhance the interactivity of various departments within the County structure and quasi-public services. “In addition to that,” Gomez says, “many of our customers who are acquiring these connections also want to use services in our data center. Fabric Connect allows us to do that in a simple way and dovetails quite nicely with the architectural system that we’re using.”

Next step: Video Surveillance

Looking ahead, Gomez sees the fully integrated IP Multicast solution that Avaya delivers as ‘a very nice play’ to solve the various business needs of those that utilize video surveillance at the Port of Miami. “It will require only a fraction of the effort that would be involved in any other solution that’s available.”

“Video Surveillance utilizing Avaya’s fully integrated IP Multicast will be a simple and elegant solution for enabling our customers to utilize video feeds in the ways they need to.”

Erick Gomez, Systems Support Manager for Enterprise Network Support, Miami Dade County

Miami Dade County
  • Headquarters:

  • United States

  • # Employees:

  • 32000

Miami-Dade County is located in the southeastern part of the state of Florida. It is the most populous county in Florida and the seventh-most populous county in the United States. It is also Florida’s third largest county in terms of land area, with 1,946 square miles. The county seat is Miami. Within the County there are 34 incorporated cities and many unincorporated areas. The northern, central and eastern portions of the county are heavily urbanized, while southern Miami-Dade County includes the Redland and Homestead areas, which make up the agricultural economy of Miami. The western portion of the county extends into the Everglades National Park. East of the mainland, in Biscayne Bay, are also Biscayne National Park and the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves.

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“When I looked at the solutions most other companies proposed to us, I saw greater complexity and much larger challenges.”

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  • Erick Gomez

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