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Posted: 6/5/2012
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City of Barcelona City Government Eases Transition to Cloud Through Data Center Briefing and Tour

The City of Barcelona had concerns about moving to a public cloud scenario. Its Chief Technology Officer attended a Data Center Briefing, where he learned about the Microsoft strategy for security, scalability, and service in the cloud and took a tour that gave him a firsthand view of how Microsoft runs its data centers. The City came away with greater confidence in its technology direction and greater faith in its relationship with Microsoft.

Business Needs
The City of Barcelona has long been known as a technology leader in the public realm. The city’s government is at the forefront of IT excellence, using technology solutions to provide citizens with better access to services and extend the positive reach of city government.

In 2011, the City of Barcelona began to use cloud-based services to make information available to citizens to be easily accessed over the Internet. It then wanted to expand its use of cloud services by moving more information and applications to the cloud. However, the city only had experience with private cloud solutions, which were set up within its firewall. “Our strategy shifted to include the use of a public cloud service to share useful public data with our citizens,” says Eduard Martín, Chief Technology Officer at the City of Barcelona. “We determined that it made sense for us to use public cloud services both for economic reasons and for the ease of technological evolution.”

* Both the Data Center Briefing and tour confirmed our expectations about the care that Microsoft takes with everything from security and equipment to the way that it organizes data.
Eduard Martin
Chief Technology Officer, City of Barcelona
The city evaluated offerings from Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, but it worried about the security and scalability aspects of any public cloud scenario. “Our policy is to consider both cost and technology capabilities when looking for the best solution,” says Martín. “We needed to be certain that the cloud services solution we chose was not only affordable but could also provide the level of security that we needed to safeguard our information.”

To allay its concerns about both security and scalability, the city’s Microsoft account team recommended that Martín attend a Data Center Briefing (DCB) at a Microsoft data center. In December 2011, Martín traveled to a Microsoft data center in Dublin, Ireland, where he was joined by representatives from other organizations with similar objectives. “Although I had to be away from the office and travel to see the data center, I knew that it would be a good use of time. I’d be able to walk through the actual facility and see for myself how Microsoft handles security and quality assurance,” says Martín.

The DCB opened with a session that explored the use of the Microsoft cloud technology platform to deliver services. The discussion focused on the Microsoft vision for scalability, security, service, and connectivity in the cloud. The session also delved into the different options and combinations of on-premises, private, and public cloud services available to help the city design a solution that met its particular needs. The next session dealt with attendees’ shared concerns about privacy and service continuity in cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft Office 365. “The sessions gave me in-depth descriptions of the services that Microsoft offers, and the presentations were well-prepared and clear,” says Martín. “They fully answered my questions and satisfied my qualms about security.”

Following the sessions, Martín and the others toured the data center itself. “I was struck by the facility’s considerable size and capacity, how efficiently it runs, and how well-organized it is,” says Martín. “I was especially impressed by the ecological measures that Microsoft has taken with regard to data center cooling and energy savings.”

In March 2012, reassured about the Microsoft cloud services approach, the City of Barcelona began moving all of its City Hall information for citizens to a public cloud using Windows Azure. It also plans to move email and collaboration applications that are based on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 onto Windows Azure.

The City of Barcelona considers the Data Center Briefing at Microsoft an important factor in its decision to expand its use of cloud services, particularly its addition of a public Windows Azure–based solution. “I had a good, productive visit to an important data center,” says Martín. “That experience provided me with a different vision of the future of technology and helped the city begin to see IT as a service, rather than a series of products. It was definitely time well spent.”

The benefits of the DCB include:

  • Enhanced confidence. The City of Barcelona gained a higher degree of comfort in its cloud strategy and its relationship with Microsoft as a result of its visit to the Dublin data center. “Both the Data Center Briefing and tour confirmed our expectations about the care that Microsoft takes―with everything from security and equipment, to the way that it organizes data,” says Martín. “It quickly became clear that Windows Azure is a platform that offers the scalability that we want at our disposal, delivered by a company that has made a sustained commitment to its customers.”

  • Technical insight. The city found that the DCB provided valuable exposure to Microsoft strategies and capabilities that would have been hard to get elsewhere. “In addition to better understanding the Microsoft approach to security, I also got to learn about data center techniques that I had not witnessed before, such as the innovative refrigeration methods Microsoft uses in its data centers,” says Martín.

  • Shared experience. Another positive outcome of the DCB for Martín was the opportunity to interact with others from similar organizations that were interested in cloud services. “It was extremely helpful to include speak with other Data Center Briefing participants,” recalls Martín. “We talked about our practical decision-making considerations and our goals for adopting public cloud services. The ability to share ideas, concerns, and solutions was an unexpected but welcome benefit.”

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 14000 employees

Organization Profile

The City of Barcelona, the second-largest in Spain, provides numerous services to its 1.6 million residents, including city management, security, environmental, welfare, and cultural services.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft Technology Center

Vertical Industries