Building a City of the Future with a Reliable, Scalable Platform
Building any IT infrastructure from scratch is thrilling. You get to pick everything you want to use, and you don’t have the hassle of migrating data or phasing out old technology. But the same things that make starting from scratch exhilarating can also be challenges.
In building Egypt's new administrative capital, my team and I at Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) have to plan for the expected—and the unexpected as well. Doing so requires a reliable solution and partner that we can depend on as we scale.
Located 35 kilometers from Cairo, New Cairo will become Egypt’s new capital, including the country’s government and administrative functions, in addition to related operations such as embassies. This massive project aims to strengthen and diversify the country’s economic potential by creating new places to live, work, and visit. The city plan involves a series of key catalyst developments in the city core to attract residents. In addition to the new government administrative hub, these sites include a cultural district and a wide variety of urban neighborhoods. It is a vast space, covering an area of 186,000 acres.
Smart Infrastructure for a Smart City
As the Department Manager of Smart Infrastructure Planning at Administrative Capital for Urban development, my role has an extensive scope, planning all levels of IT infrastructure and overseeing their implementation. This encompasses everything from the physical layer—building the fiber optic infrastructure to connect and serve every building in the city—to the big data layer, including automation.
Automation will play a significant role in this project. We are building 28 different smart services within the city, including:
- Smart monitoring of traffic
- Management and operation of smart utilities
- Cameras and control sensors integrated throughout the city
- Smart management of resources, with a focus on green energy
All of these services will be integrated, and each will have different needs and methodology from an IT, connectivity, and automation perspective. Everything is to be managed from a centralized city operation center, which is a multi-control center aggregating all the information from the smart services and network processes into one place.
At the same time, each of the services will have individual operators act as service provider for the smart services—an operator for the smart grid, and a separate operator for smart parking, for example—and these operators will be distributed across the city. Having them access the centralized management system from various locations will require a reliable VDI solution.
The Search for a Robust VDI Solution
On paper, our requirements for a VDI solution were simple. We needed high efficiency, high visibility, efficient power consumption, and scalability. The solution provider had to be reliable, too, guaranteeing that 1,500 VDI users across the city could access the centralized backend. We also needed the solution to be easily maintained at a low operational cost. After undergoing several Proof of Concepts, HPE ProLiant came out ahead for performance and scalability for a robust VDI solution.
We recently had a positive experience with an HPE storage solution for our video management system. We will have more than 20,000 CCTV cameras in administrative buildings and some in the street, all feeding back to a centralized location. Again, we were looking for scalability, and we found it in the combination of HPE ProLiant servers, HPE Nimble Storage dHCI and Qumulo. The efficiency and utilization ratio of these solutions were very high, they took very minimal rack space, and they optimized power consumption, including the energy used for cooling. These factors impressed my team, as did HPE’s promising forecasting capabilities for future computing solutions.
We currently have mixed workloads running on HPE Nimble Storage dHCI including Citrix as our VDI platform, applications with GPUs for planning and 3D architecture, and big data computing workloads with SQL. The workloads are varied. We have applications that manage services, like utilities. We have applications that manage the data center itself. Our big data platform sits on top of everything, and HPE ProLiant servers host the elements of that platform that provide analytics of application and user behavior.
The Right Partners Help Us Navigate Hurdles Effortlessly
Our HPE partner, Masr ID & Click ITS, has been invaluable as we got the project off the ground. They’ve been by our side since the beginning, providing us with an optimized timeline and building flexibility into the agreement. They’ve always been quick to respond to concerns and work with HPE to update the design and address any modification we requested.
During deployment, we faced a stumbling block in the delivery of some materials, but Masr ID & Click ITS went the extra mile and had some material shipped by air to meet the timeline. Beyond having the technical expertise and knowledge of HPE products to do the job, they remain engaged and flexible throughout the process, which is critical in a project like this with so many stakeholders.
The most challenging part was integrating everything within our timeline. Most of the competition promised us four months’ delivery, but they did it in eight weeks.
Our Smart City Is Ready to Expand
We are still in Phase One of this project, but we have seen good results. Most of our tests have shown very high performance, and the HPE ProLiant servers are consuming less power and taking up less rack space than we anticipated. So far, we’ve hosted 1,500 users successfully, and we are confident that we have secured the scalability under data center conditions to be ready for our next phase, which will be to onboard 5,000 users.
Technology evolves so fast, and with plans for the city to grow to 2 million people within a few years, we have to focus on the future, on being ready for technologies that aren’t even on the horizon yet. Every day you have a new obligation, a new customer need. More than the merits of a solution today, we need to consider how it allows for expansion, modularity, and scaling without reinventing the wheel.
HPE storage does all this. HPE is a terrific partner, and we will continue to look to them for new technologies that can expand seamlessly as the city develops. They will continue to help us push the boundaries of what we think a city can be.