San Diego steps up cloud, remote support, IT service management
- By Stephanie Kanowitz
- Sep 20, 2021
The city of San Diego is beginning an IT revamp with a new managed services contract that focuses on data centers, cloud, help-desk support and a security operations center (SOC).
The new contract, which the city signed with Zensar Technologies last month, replaces managed service provider contracts from 2012 that reached the end of their term. Because technology and new business requirements had evolved significantly since then, the city saw a chance to apply lessons learned from the previous contracts and work with stakeholders to develop requirements for a new request for proposals for enterprise compute and workplace services, San Diego CIO Jonathan Behnke said.
“The new RFP provided an opportunity to increase customer satisfaction, increase the IT services redundancy and agility, reduce the city’s risk exposure, drive ongoing technical innovation -- and we really were looking to receive the best services for the best value,” Behnke said.
Specifically, his team sought to increase help-desk self-services, better support remote workers and mobile devices, centralize IT services management and cloud use and modernize infrastructure as a way to address the city’s expanding digital footprint. Since 2012 its help-desk calls have increased by about 67% to 60,000 calls annually; the number of laptops, desktops and other devices have grown by almost 30% to 19,000 units; servers spiked 68% to about 1,300; databases have increased by 70%; and storage has ballooned almost 280%.
The scope of the new contract, valued at $122 million and good for four years, is two-fold, said Harjott Atrii, the company’s executive vice president and head of its Digital Foundation Services and Hi-Tech and Manufacturing segment. One aspect involves enterprise compute services (ECS), which is the migration of workloads to the city’s data center or to the cloud and bringing in models such as pay-as-you-go, as-a-service and outcome-based pricing.
Through ECS, the company will deliver support for public cloud that will provide new services such as disaster recovery and data storage and support more than 1,000 city servers and associated storage and software hosting more than 300 city applications.
The second part of the contract covers digital workplace services, including technical help-desk support. The city wants to create more secure, effective, responsive technology services that can respond to all the IT needs, Atrii said.
To accomplish this, Zensar will provide a central contact point for all IT services, end-user device support and enhanced mobile device support for about 6,000 city- and employee-owned devices. San Diego added 2,200 laptops and 3,000 virtual desktop instances in 2020, Behnke said, so the support team must be faster at resolving issues for remote staff.
“The pandemic has driven all organizations to rely more on virtual collaboration and meeting tools, and it was critical to us to ensure that the new contract had excellent support from those areas,” he said. “New user experience-monitoring tools will detect issues more quickly and provide opportunities to resolve them before the user notices or calls the help desk. It will also provide appointment scheduling for help-desk services to make it more convenient for staff to address issues within convenient time windows.”
Although Zensar is headquartered in India, it will provide these services through its U.S.-based delivery operations management center in Westborough, Mass., and a command center in Dallas that will monitor devices, data centers and the cloud.
Partners include Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Hewlett-Packard, Atrii said.
More transparency, accountability and security are additional goals for San Diego. Because all managed service providers, or MSPs, will work in a centralized system, “the city will have more expanded data to do deeper dives into the service fulfillment, incident response [and] service levels,” Behnke said. “Expanded data helps us drive more accountability for services, and new tools give us greater visibility across the technology ecosystem…. The new contract also makes security a priority and integrates it across all services to hold our MSPs more accountable for security best practices and delivery across all of the services.”
The work aligns with the city’s fiscal 2022-26 IT Strategy. San Diego split IT services among three groups: City staff will handle service management and digital strategy, CGI is taking on enterprise application development and management, and Zensar will assume help-desk, network and phone as well as data center and cloud work from Atos, which had been providing services since 2012.
The work also builds on a contract Zensar won from the city in 2018 to assist with security, knowledge management, operations management and the addition of next-generation technology such as software-defined architectures.
“Security is a major component of all IT services, and they’re really going to be able to build on that work that they’ve done on the network and SOC contract,” Behnke said. “[They’ll] help us continue to drive best practices into cloud transformation and refreshing our data center hardware.
Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.