The City of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, has its sights set on being one of the most modern cities in Europe. To deliver world-class e-government services to citizens, and also to reduce operating costs,
Frankfurt built a new data center and has begun to successfully consolidate citywide IT services and equipment. As a result, the city expects to reduce IT costs by means of reducing parallel software investments and minimizing redundancies in development of
applications. By using standardized, centralized software, the city’s employees are more productive, and the IT organization is able to begin rolling out new online services for citizens.
Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt) is the fifth-largest city in Germany and a world center for finance, business, culture, and tourism. It wants to be a leader in e-government services and public sector technology. Toward that end, Frankfurt has begun to consolidate
its highly decentralized IT infrastructure and cost-effectively upgraded many Microsoft data center software products using its Microsoft Enterprise Agreement.
By creating a centralized source for city IT services, Frankfurt expects to reduce its software costs, increase efficiency in its processes, and, thus, significantly increase its economic viability. But that’s just the beginning. The city also has a far more
reliable infrastructure and can keep critical services such as email running without interruption. It has started to deploy several applications, such as Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, that help its employees work more collaboratively and efficiently. This
is critical in getting more work done without staff increases. ”We are convinced of a modular IT model, as the single components mesh very well. Thus, we do not need a countless number of various applications,” says Roland Berlauer, Deputy Director, Department
of Information and Communications Engineering, for Frankfurt am Main.
But the best is yet to come. Frankfurt has developed and continues to enhance a reliable, flexible IT foundation on which to roll out citizen-facing e-government services that simplify citizens’ interactions with their government and deliver more open, transparent
The Full Story
Decentralized IT Breeds Problems
Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt) is the largest city in the German state of Hessen and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a metropolitan area population of 2.3 million people. Frankfurt is an international center for finance, commerce, culture, transportation,
education, and tourism.
Until 2012, the city’s 62 departments and their respective IT agencies operated in a decentralized fashion where technology was concerned. Although Frankfurt had an official IT department, each city department and agency maintained its own IT staff, servers,
applications, and IT service desk. These IT “fiefdoms” resulted in redundancy, inefficiency, and high costs. As the first step to overcome this highly inefficient IT structure, the city migrated 15 of the 62 departments to a centralized data center, which
follows the city’s design plan and security architecture of the two locations principle: the centralized data center stores data in two separate locations so that the city can ensure business continuity. Further, the vast number of email servers has been centralized
into two locations. This move has helped to resolve the nearly weekly email failures that employees experienced in the past.
||We are convinced of a modular IT model, as the single components mesh very well. Thus, we do not need a countless number of various applications.
| Roland Berlauer
Department of Information and Communications Engineering, City of Frankfurt am Main
During the global recession that began in 2007, Frankfurt made sweeping budget cuts, and every department was asked to do more with less. The city knew that it needed to consolidate and update its technology holdings to help its employees be more productive.
A centralized, modern IT infrastructure was also necessary to deliver better citizen services. For example, although Frankfurt had a citizen hotline that citizens could use to ask questions about city services, the employee answering the phone had to look in
15 different systems to find the answer. “We had no centralized data model, so data was inconsistent across systems, and employees had trouble making sense of the information,” says Klaus-Dieter Altschaffner, Director, Principles and Contact Issues Section,
Department of Information and Communications Engineering, for Frankfurt am Main. “They could also get multiple answers, because it was very difficult to keep all these systems up-to-date.” Frankfurt’s lack of a centralized data model also made it almost impossible
to develop new e-government systems.
Now, the consolidation, centralization, and update of its IT holdings into two data centers in order to reduce costs, eliminate duplication, and deliver better web-based citizen services has become the direction that the city strives for. Its goal is to become
a public sector technology leader—the most modern city in Germany and possibly even Europe.
Consolidate, Standardize, Streamline
The city worked with Microsoft to outfit its new central data center with modern software and create a standardized set of operating practices that adhered to industry best practices. “We’ve been a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement customer since 2003 and had
used this license to create some level of uniformity in the city’s infrastructure, despite the decentralized infrastructure,” says Roland Berlauer, Deputy Director, Department of Information and Communications Engineering, for Frankfurt am Main. “It made sense
for us to continue our standardization efforts with Microsoft.”
To get support in establishing best-practice operational procedures and persuading city departments to move their servers into the new data center, the city turned to eGov Consulting and Development (eGov), a spin-off of Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication
Systems and expert for IT service management processes in the public sector. Three years ago, eGov began an ongoing project with the Frankfurt IT organization to implement the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a set of best practices for
IT service management that focus on aligning IT services with business needs. “Before city departments would entrust their servers and applications to us, we needed to demonstrate that we had standard, efficient processes for tasks such as deploying software
to a PC,” Berlauer says.
The city also engaged Avanade, a Microsoft Partner Network member, to help it create an e-government master plan. Avanade helped the city create a service-oriented architecture and single data model so that all city applications could talk to one another.
Through virtualization technology, the provisioning of Windows Server has been completely automated and optimized for data center operations. The city also created a central Active Directory Domain Services directory system to simplify employee access to applications,
and upgraded to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. Using the latter, it delivered modern email messaging capabilities, including email archiving for all departments. In the process, the city consolidated 80 Exchange-based servers scattered across the city down
to two locations. Moreover, the migration to newer email software has been a significant benefit since the direct archiving functionality now allows the city to actually deal with the mere data volume.
The city upgraded to Microsoft System Center 2012 data center solutions and used the Service Manager component to create a centralized ticketing and support system, giving employees an online portal for reporting IT problems and an online service catalog. The
IT staff also uses Service Manager to solve problems faster.
The city uses the Operations Manager component of System Center 2012 to monitor servers and network activities and preemptively catch problems before they bring down a service. It uses the Configuration Manager component to automate the deployment of software
and updates to all server and client computers. A citywide rollout would further reduce barriers whereas the economic value would be significant, as well.
Significant Software Cost Reduction, Anticipated Increase of Reliability
With its new centralized data center, Frankfurt’s IT department is able to do more work with fewer people and stay ahead of problems. “Once we have everything centralized, we anticipate a reduction of citywide software costs by 40 to 50 percent,” Altschaffner
says. The savings comes from a reduction in hardware, volume software licensing savings, consolidation of databases and other applications, and IT management efficiencies.
“We have streamlined processes, eliminated redundancies, and achieved economies of scale,” continues Altschaffner. “With the global recession, we’ve had to make do with our existing staff for several years. Having more modern IT capabilities built around Microsoft
software helps all departments work more efficiently so that the city can do more with existing staff.”
With its new infrastructure, the city is also able to keep internal and citizen-facing applications running more reliably. “By centralizing servers and applications, we have much better oversight of these systems and can deliver much higher levels of availability,”
Berlauer says. “Previously, when we had 80 Exchange-based email servers, we experienced failures nearly weekly, but with our new software and management practices, we’ve had no downtime in the last year, which is remarkable.”
Boost Employee Efficiency, Roll Out New Citizen Services
The city upgraded a number of employee-facing productivity applications, too. It used Microsoft Visio 2010 diagramming software to design documentation for the entire network. Employees now use Microsoft Project 2010 for project management and Microsoft SharePoint
Server 2010 for collaboration and to share documents, calendars, and schedules.
Now that its IT infrastructure is becoming more efficient and reliable, the city is able to begin creating all kinds of new online services for citizens. This strategy and focus is reflected by the recent decision of the Magistrate to encompass an eGovernment
plan. By means of eGovernment, the Frankfurt wants to improve civil and business services and increase the transparency of administrative action. Moreover, the city intends to optimize participation opportunities for citizens, increase cost reductions, and
take into account the overall sustainability aspects of green IT and resource-saving business processes.
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