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November 17, 2008

City of Miami Moves to Windows Vista

I recently had the chance to talk to James Osteen, Assistant Director of the City of Miami’s IT Department about their Windows Vista deployment.  I thought that many of you could relate to his position and would appreciate his insight into what it takes to keep a major city like Miami up and running.

The Windows Blog:  Hi James, thanks for joining usTell us a bit about yourself.

James Osteen: I’m James Osteen, an Assistant Director with the City of Miami’s IT Department with Infrastructure responsibility.  I work with all aspects of our IT infrastructure, including desktops and mainframe, networking, storage, security, and the web.  The best part of my job is that it is ever changing…the pace of change in IT allows us to constantly provide more and better services to our citizens and internal clients- and at a lower cost.  Let’s put it this way, we certainly never get bored!

The Windows Blog: From an IT perspective, what are the top three challenges you face?

James Osteen: That’s easy: First is the security of our infrastructure – this isn’t something we’ve had issues with before, but it’s always something we’re thinking about.  We want to be sure our system is secure…our motto is that being prepared before an issue reduces the chance of it happening.

Next would be cost effectiveness of solutions.  IT departments can be the first place funding is scaled back, so when we invest in technology, it has to be top notch and show immediate value.

Finally, I’m concerned about the reliability and robustness of service.  This is pretty self explanatory, but our job becomes easier if the products we’re using are reliable.

The Windows Blog: How do you think Windows Vista can help advance your IT mission and address the challenges you described before?

James Osteen: The mission of the City’s IT Department is “to deliver high-quality, focused, aggressive business solutions to the City of Miami by offering consumer-centric services and cost-efficient communications and information technologies.”   

So to break it down, the security enhancements in Windows Vista have made the operating system one of the most secure options available today, with response times to new security threats that are some of the best in the industry.  For us, the deployment of Windows Vista is translating into direct savings for the City and our citizens: it’s enabling us to save approximately $80K in power savings through the deployment of GPOs available in Windows Vista, and by migrating from our current mainframe environment to a Windows Server infrastructure, its helping us eliminate approximately $1M in annual costs.  That’s just the start…these savings are projected to grow to $190K annually within 4 years!  And, we expect to see productivity gains through the use of new tools available in Windows Vista, such as desktop search and the snipping tool.

As far as reliability and robustness of service, I have been using the Windows Vista OS in a production environment for 10 months with zero reliability issues.  The OS has proven to be highly stable and reliable and one of the side benefits to us from a support standpoint is the “built-in protection of system files.”  From a robustness of service perspective, we are migrating to a centralized storage platform for our enterprise data. The depth provided by the Offline Files implementation in Windows Vista, including the bitmap differential transfer, makes this goal achievable – it would have been more of a challenge for our clients previously.

The Windows Blog: How many desktop and mobile PCs are you deploying on Windows Vista? In what timeframe? 

James Osteen: We plan on migrating approximately 900 desktops/laptops to Vista by end of August 2009.

The Windows Blog: In our current economy, what role does cost savings play in your IT strategy?   

James Osteen: Cost savings are becoming increasingly important to our operations with the current economic downturn.  We are constantly asked to perform higher levels of service with fewer dollars, and in today’s economy this has become even more important.  The $1M in mainframe cost savings plus the $80K in power savings alone make this project a no-brainer (not to mention that reducing our carbon footprint is extremely important to us in Florida).

The Windows Blog: Did knowing Microsoft is working on Windows 7 affect your choice to deploy Windows Vista? 

James Osteen: The impact of Windows 7 on our decision to move forward was zero.  We replace 20% of our desktop/laptop inventory on an annual basis, so that means that desktops we place in production today could have a production life of 5 years… we can’t afford to stand still and be rooted in the past.  In making our decision to deploy Windows Vista now, we looked more at the immediate benefits that Windows Vista can currently provide our environment – such as cost savings, security, reliability – those factors made the decision an easy one.

The Windows Blog: Would you recommend that other businesses take a look at Windows Vista and consider upgrading? 

James Osteen: Absolutely! Any organization concerned with delivering cost effective, secure and reliable services to their clients would be well served taking a hard look at the benefits that Windows Vista can provide to them.