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County Government On Demand

Scale and Scope

And goodness has indeed been the result. After deciding on the pSeries platform, Miami-Dade County began the consolidation effort, moving 50 discrete servers onto the pSeries systems, which have a total processor capacity of 96. "Not only have we displaced those servers," Oelkers says, " but we've also added quite a bit of additional capacity and capabilities without having to increase our computer-room white-floor space. In fact, we got rid of a lot of racks."

The county has also been able to curb IT costs, using its IT personnel in more efficient ways. Instead of working with a plethora of discrete servers, they're now tasked with managing only the pSeries and zSeries servers (plus the few remaining stand-alone servers). This, according to Petisco, allows Miami-Dade County to "have a greater depth of support for a centralized enterprise complex. And in today's environment, acquiring traditional dollars for human resources is a very difficult challenge for any IT group."

In addition, the county can now experience economies of "scale and scope," as Petisco puts it, by leveraging enterprise-like complexes rather than the independent processors. This includes using the zSeries servers to host virtual instances of Linux*, moving additional applications from one-off servers to larger, more flexible boxes. " We're trying to get to the point where we don't have any of these independent, discrete servers on the floor anymore," Petisco adds.

Concurrent with this consolidation effort, the organization also began re-engineering its online applications to better serve its customers. This was done using a variety of tools, the most notable of which are part of the WebSphere* suite. These include the WebSphere Edge Server, WebSphere Portal, WebSphere Translation Server and WebSphere MQ. (The county is also using IBM HTTP Server, Tivoli* SecureWay Policy Director, DB2* Universal Database*, Lotus* Sametime and Interwoven TeamSite for content management.)

As Petisco explains, "We wanted to create ways for county citizens to process a lot of requests by themselves over the Internet. This tied into our consolidation effort, allowing us to leverage the hosts to run these applications in a very cost-efficient environment. Had we not gone through the consolidation effort, we might still have re-engineered these applications, integrating them with one another, but it might have been cost prohibitive for us to create the type of hosting environment necessary to put these applications together and present them on the Web."

As it turned out, however, the re-engineering has already begun to pay for itself, with the number of overall visitors to the Miami-Dade County portal having increased more than 50 percent in the past year to nearly 10 million. For example, the county has processed more than 11,000 building permits and re-inspections online, generating nearly $2 million in revenue. The county has also processed more than 60,000 electronic payments totaling more than $4 million in revenue.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at



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