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How Berkeley, Calif., Pivoted to Remote Work & Telehealth

As part of a larger plan to modernize its IT systems, Berkeley, Calif., has partnered with Nutanix to revamp its IT infrastructure to support upwards of 700 remote employees and provide telehealth opportunities.

by / January 27, 2021

As part of an effort to revamp its IT infrastructure, Berkeley, Calif., in partnership with Nutanix, has implemented new software to increase scalability, opening up new doors for remote work and telehealth options.

Prior to implementing the new technology, the city’s infrastructure consisted of a three-tier platform that was unreliable and unscalable, according to Savita Chaudhary, the city’s IT director.

“The legacy infrastructure was complex to troubleshoot, sometimes resulting in long-lasting outages,” Chaudhary said.

Those outages would then impact various departments, including police, fire, public works, planning, health services and housing and community services.

To prevent this from happening, the city implemented a new system last year, not long before the pandemic hit the U.S.

Before implementing the system, the city had zero remote workers, according to Chaudhary. Since its implementation, that number has grown to approximately 700 employees.

“This project indirectly impacted the remote working problem for us,” she said. “Our servers and storage were more than seven to eight years old, and we were due for a replacement.”

Not long after deciding to replace these systems, she said, the city found and started working with Nutanix.

“We had just completed this project right before the pandemic hit,” Chaudhary said. “When COVID happened, our infrastructure was stable, so we were able to just focus on implementing remote work options for employees.”

After that, the process of going remote happened fairly quickly.

“We activated our emergency operations center, which was given funding pretty quickly,” she said. “We then focused on purchasing equipment and software for Microsoft Teams, as well as deploying Citrix to make cybersecurity changes to allow our employees to work remotely.”

Tapan Mehta, the company's director of industry solution marketing, said Nutanix's role was in simplifying the city's old three-tier infrastructure so it could work in a single appliance.

“The analogy I use a lot of the time,” Mehta said, “is just like you have iOS for Apple users or Android for Google users as an app developer, you have the beauty of developing apps that can run on any Apple or Google devices.”

Nutanix, he said, tries to follow the same line of thought in terms of providing consumers with the ability to run their applications or workloads in an environment of their choice, whether that includes a private cloud, public cloud or a combination of the two.

The city's found other benefits in the partnership as well.

"We have been able to significantly reduce the amount of physical hardware we were using by switching to a single system, resulting in energy savings of up to 50 percent,” Chaudhary said.

The city also set up an off-site disaster recovery system for events such as earthquakes.

"As we continue to go through major system transitions and adapt to this changing world, we now have the capability to scale up our infrastructure and support the new initiatives and solutions for our growing needs and services," Chaudhary said.

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Katya Maruri Staff Writer

Katya Maruri is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University, and more than five years of experience in the print and digital news industry.


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