Tel Aviv: 4 months to a sustainable future

05 November 2013 | Maor David-Pur, Government SSP, Microsoft Israel

Tel Aviv ranks as the world’s second most innovative city according to the Wall Street Journal and Citibank’s City of the Year contest. It’s the second-largest city in Israel and a major tourist destination for international travelers. As such, it serves the daily economic and governmental needs of its massive population as well as a significant shadow population of tourists.

The city used to rely on a complex computing environment that incorporated more than 400 information systems installed on hundreds of servers to deliver services to citizens. Tel Aviv needed a way to meet its growing needs without deploying new physical servers, a costly, inefficient, and often tedious path to growth. An important factor: mobile access for citizens, as well as remote city workers, had to be fully addressed and secure.

The city decided to build a multi-functional cloud based system that integrates several systems into one place. By increasing transparency and simplifying how data is organized, accessed, and delivered, Tel Aviv’s Project Management Office (PMO) was able to bring five important advantages to the city:

  • City workers can now work from anywhere, on any device. The same goes for citizens and visitors, who can access city services while on the go.
  • Information delivery is reliable and the systems are highly available, improving continuity of operations for the city of Tel Aviv as well as businesses that rely on city services.
  • The system can expand as needed, so city leaders know their investment is safe. Their information system can continue to grow, and keep up with the massive growth in population that most cities will see over the next century.
  • Faster time to market as opposed to on-premises deployment, which would have taken approximately one year.
  • Improved response time: IT departments can focus on the city’s needs and give better service to different business groups in the city.

Amazingly, the transformation took place over the course of just four months. Part of the credit goes to the IT team’s familiarity with Microsoft CityNext solutions including Windows Azure, Virtual Machines, and PaaS services including SQL Azure, Active Directory, and Cloud Services. But even more credit goes to the city of Tel Aviv itself, which once again has earned its reputation as one of the world’s most innovative and progressive cities. The city had a vision, and engaged its Chief Architect and Director of Software Infrastructure to drive the project forward under a tight timeline and an even tighter budget. They defined their priorities and a non-negotiable timeline upfront, then stuck to it.

Key success factors were:

  • Operational flexibility—any system they created had to be able to grow as population increased, and it had to support a range of policies for backups, availability, and unlimited storage.
  • ROI—this was an investment in the future of the city, and as such, city leaders expected a quick return, which they got thanks in part to the fast deployment schedule, which reduced upfront costs.
  • Device freedom—access must be assured from any device, from any location, anytime.
  • Time to market—project completed in four months.

As a result of this project, Tel Aviv has at least partially solved sustainability and livability issues in the face of rapid population growth. The city has also provided an excellent roadmap and has removed barriers for taking other services to the cloud. And they’ve sharpened the IT skills they’ll need to accelerate future projects.

It’s an exciting time for our cities as they pioneer new technologies to be more sustainable and economically competitive in the years to come. In Tel-Aviv, it’s clear that the cloud is a crucial resource for achieving those outcomes. Focusing on the evolving needs of citizens, businesses, and city workers rather than on the rigid details of infrastructure is an important step forward.

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Maor David-Pur
Government SSP, Microsoft Israel

About the Author

Maor David-Pur | Government SSP, Microsoft Israel

With more than 15 years of experience, Maor is focused on developing strategies that enable government customers to effectively leverage the latest technologies & helps them to develop solutions to address their unique challenges Read more