News Release

Durham County Upgrades Data Center Network with Cisco ACI to Speed New Services and Applications for County Residents, Businesses, and Employees

New data center network will automate data center processes, reduce costs and enhance security
Nov 29, 2016

SAN JOSE, Calif.—November 29, 2016– Cisco today announced that Durham County Government of North Carolina has designed and implemented a new data center network fabric based on Cisco® Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) as part of a long-range plan to create a highly efficient and automated application-centric data center. In phase one of the plan, all data center services will be migrated to the new ACI network, which is designed to provide greater visibility into the network fabric and the applications that run on it, ensuring that all applications and services will run at peak performance. 

With more than 280,000 residents in Durham County, the new Cisco ACI™ solution will allow the Information Services & Technology (IS&T) staff to quickly develop and deploy new digital services, and provide a strong technology foundation to support County facilities and services including public safety, health, social services, and administrative functions.

“With the deployment of Cisco ACI, Durham County will serve as a public sector model for a leading-edge Software Defined Network and an application centric data center,” said Greg Marrow, CIO, Durham County. “This aligns with the County’s goal for accountable, efficient and visionary government: streamlining our operations, saving energy and improving security for the services we provide residents and our business departments.” 

Durham County Strategic Goals

The data center plan reflects the County’s strategic goals and “managing for results” program which translates to specific objectives.  Goals for the technology strategic plan include:

  • Improve data security, business continuity and disaster recovery to ensure the availability of services, applications and data.
  • Enhance development and implementation of new services and applications such as the new time-saving digital mobile app developed by IS&T department that allows residents to take a photo of a document and submit it via mobile phone. Apps such as this will be delivered more rapidly in the future.
  • Move toward “green technology” that decreases environmental impact, lowers energy costs, and reduces operational costs.

To achieve these goals, the Enterprise Infrastructure and Operations Division is implementing a multi-phase plan to create a state-of-the-art data center with automated processes and enhanced security that will support a development and operations (DevOps) model for the rapid delivery of new services and applications. 

“Working at a forward thinking organization like Durham County is extremely fulfilling because they understand the value of technology and support innovative employees,” said Seth M. Price, Senior Network Engineer for the county.  “When I began the process of redesigning our data center and chose the ACI platform, I had the full backing and trust from my management to design what will truly be a next generation data center.  The freedom to be innovative and create positive change is what brought me to Durham County and what keeps me here today.”

Better Management with Cisco ACI

When the data center improvements are completed in 2017, Durham County expects the following benefits to be realized:

  • An application centric data center able to deploy or redeploy network infrastructure rapidly to support new or changing applications and services.
  • Advanced security, load balancing, and monitoring providing a more reliable, more secure and easier to manage network.
  • Application and services integration where previously complex daily tasks can be automated processes.
  • An innovative and highly skilled team prepared to meet new challenges.

“Right now we spend 80 percent of our time and resources maintaining the network, and 20 percent on new projects or improving services and innovation,” said Joel Bonestell, Network Services Manager.  “Moving forward, we will be able to flip that around and have more time for new and innovative projects that will benefit our residents and businesses with new capabilities and services.”

As part of the ACI network deployment, Durham County will add ACI extensions to its dark fiber ring in downtown Durham.  Network engineers will install ACI remote leaf switches, creating a 40Gb fiber ring downtown that will provide capabilities at other county sites, and which can be managed holistically. The extended dark fiber ring will lay the foundation for “Smart City” services such as a video surveillance system, enhanced library network access and services, and the opportunity to create more services to better serve the residents and businesses of Durham County.

Public Technology Institute Tech Savvy Award

To underscore the county’s commitment to technology excellence, Durham County Government was honored with the prestigious Public Technology Institute Tech Savvy award for 2016, one of only six local governments in the nation to receive the award, which recognizes local governments that use technology to address issues, challenges and future opportunities. According to PTI, the winners were selected because they demonstrated exceptional talent, great ideas, a spirit of teamwork and collaboration, creativity, technology leadership and proven technology best practices across the entire enterprise. 

An example of Durham County’s innovation is their joint project with the City of Durham called OpenDurham, which hosts an site for application development. Currently the project supplies developers with open APIs for over 150 data sets, and OpenDurham developers are creating applications that benefit citizens and businesses, such as a food safety application.

Additional Resources

Learn more about: Durham County

Learn more about: Durham County Information Services & Technology

Learn more about: Cisco Data Center and Virtualization

Learn more about: Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI)

Learn How Cisco ACI delivers business outcomes

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