Moving a Thriving Mexican Metropolis into the Future
Léon is a thriving metropolis and the most populous city in Mexico’s Guanajuato province. We are renowned for our leather and footwear industry, with 70% of shoes made in Mexico originating here. We are also an emerging international shipping, rail, and automotive industry hub, with a vibrant arts, entertainment, and culinary scene. Our municipality is one of Mexico’s most environmentally friendly cities, thanks to our modern public transit system and network of bike lanes.
To move our city into the future and better serve its 1.7 million inhabitants, the municipality of Léon upgraded our IT infrastructure five years ago. The primary rationale for the change was to implement a centralized traffic management system, but updating our data center had an intentional ripple effect on all municipal services and how the city interacts with its citizens.
As Léon’s Director of Information Technology, my duties include sourcing and maintaining the solutions that power the municipality’s internal operations and citizen-facing services, so it was up to me to steer our data center upgrade. It was the biggest project I oversaw in my 15 years with the city.
A Massive Project Lay Ahead
Our traffic center project was massive in scope, involving 671 intersections managed through 501 electronic regulators that activate traffic lights according to different schedules, based on foreseeable events and historical road flow data. We also needed a system that integrated with our public transit management tools, connected to existing municipal security systems and sensors, and was IoT and intelligent-mobility ready.
However, the city expanded the scope of this upgrade to include the municipality’s internal IT systems and citizen-facing infrastructure. This wholesale transformation would also create a single platform to centralize the bulk of our operations, including our tax department and municipal services portal. We wanted to create a holistic IT strategy that eliminated the chaos of every department having separate IT plans and policies.
Our Hardware Wasn’t Up to the Task
Centralizing our IT policies was only half the picture. Our data center was in a state of disarray and anything but robust. Our hardware was obsolete and lacked the firepower to run modern applications.
We had run out of server and storage space and had climate control issues. Our servers would overheat, our mechanical hard drives would crash and result in data losses, and we were constantly patching old equipment. The slightest problem brought everything to a halt, preventing internal and external users from accessing our systems and services for hours or days, there was a lack of access control to enter the data center, and therefore the integrity of the information was at risk.
We needed to build more capacity, and the best way forward was virtualization. We wanted a system that would allow us to spin up virtual machines at will. We also installed discrete power and climate control architecture to minimize the risk of outages due to overheating and electricity supply issues and we implemented access controls to enter the data center. It was a lot to tackle, but we had a lot of help from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and their channel partner, Data Solutions.
Relying on a Long-Term Partner for a Much-Needed Upgrade
The municipality has been an HPE shop for many years. In that time, we have gone from Gen7 and Gen8 ProLiant servers to the current Gen10 line. We’ve always been pleased with HPE’s performance and service, so when it came time to upgrade, I first sat down with HPE and Data Solutions. We discussed various technologies and they made some recommendations. Even so, I also looked at the competition, including AWS, Dell, and Nutanix.
In the end, won out. Its composable, software-defined hybrid cloud technology fit our needs the best. HPE Synergy is easy to manage, has an intuitive user interface, and seamlessly integrates with our internal processes. It was the right solution for the City of Léon and had the added benefit of outstanding support from both HPE and Data Solutions.
We spent six months architecting our new solution and five years scaling it across our entire operations. It was a complete technological and operational transformation, so we had to ensure that our systems and processes were robust.
HPE and Data Solutions helped us along every step of our journey. They started with discussions and demos leading up to choosing HPE Synergy. Then they worked with us through the implementation process. We couldn’t go wrong because HPE and Data Solutions worked on-site to make sure everything went smoothly. Having the support of these two organizations allowed us to focus efforts on such an important change, maintaining the peace of mind that we are in good hands.
This level of support proved to be invaluable and helped secure our initial budget. Technology isn’t about the upfront costs. It is about enabling you to accomplish more. HPE and Data Solutions helped my engineers install our new infrastructure and gave us the tools to overhaul all our systems and processes. Once the foundations were in place, we worked to make everything right on our end.
Overcoming Internal Hesitancy
On top of our technical challenges, we had to deal with some hesitancy within the organization. For a number of reasons, municipal bureaucracies can be slow to change. Our infrastructure project completely transformed our IT landscape, so we had to deal with the human element and get people on board with our new tools.
HPE and Data Solutions trained my IT team on the ins and outs of HPE Synergy. Many are now HPE certified and receive ongoing training to stay up to date with the platform’s latest features. Continuous learning provides expertise that helps them create a positive mindset around HPE Synergy and our new infrastructure. City workers and the citizens they serve know they can count on my team’s support to keep systems running.
The mayor and senior city managers have also congratulated my team. New technology rarely works as well as expected, so it took a leap of faith to fund this massive infrastructure upgrade project. When they saw the new solution in action, city officials understood that we’d made a good investment, and HPE and Data Solutions are trusted partners who delivered on their promises. The successful transition has paved the way to fund future infrastructure improvements.
Five Years On, Everything Works
Five years into the project, our overhaul is a tremendous success. We have migrated our systems and centralized 90% of our operations, with 10% of our environment remaining separate for security reasons. Hardware failures and cooling issues are a thing of the past, and our maintenance window is down to 20 minutes.
Our maintenance posture has gone from reactive to proactive. Instead of putting out fires every time our data center goes down, we’ve learned to trust our infrastructure and focus our attention on making improvements to our internal operations and citizen-facing services.
Our colleagues no longer complain that they’re losing information, and residents of Léon don’t call us anymore complaining that the city portal is broken. We’ve also made it easier to book appointments and pay taxes, fines, and city service fees online. In fact, online property tax payments alone have increased 600%.
A City That’s Prepared for the Future
Transforming our infrastructure has increased our capabilities. My team is building an internal cloud solution to power future web projects and move their development entirely in house. We are also working on a smart city project that will consolidate our traffic light systems with IoT sensors and a camera system called Citizen-I. We hope to leverage AI to further improve traffic flow and enhance citizen safety.
None of this would be possible without HPE Synergy and Data Solutions. These two companies guided the city of Léon through a transformative IT infrastructure upgrade that has paved the way for the city of the future.