Asset/Work Management and GIS in the Cloud
The City of Longview, Texas, is situated in mideastern Texas, has a population of about 80,500, and is considered a major commercial hub in the region. Appealing to a wide range of residents, Longview was awarded the “Certified Retirement Community” designation and was also included in the “Top 100 Best Cities for Young People” in 2007.
"If our server used for ArcGIS Server applications is not performing because of increased usage, we can quickly modify specifications and improve its capabilities"
Longview has been using a fully hosted and managed Cloud computing service provided by NTB Associates, Inc. for almost three years. In a 2012 meeting with NTB Associates, Longview mentioned their concern with their aging server, which was old and unprotected against major power outages. If their server were to crash, they would have no access to their work management or GIS software, which could cause an onslaught of problems throughout the city.
NTB Associates explained the new option of hosting applications via the Cloud and how Longview’s software could be moved there to combat server issues and concerns. Longview expressed interest and almost immediately began making the switch. By September of 2012, Longview was fully up and running in NTB’s Cloud Hosted environment.
NTB Associates utilizes a private network in the Amazon Cloud to host a wide variety of applications for multiple clients. The City of Longview’s Cloud instance hosts GIS web applications, their asset management system, Cityworks Server AMS, as well as their permitting, licensing and land management system, Cityworks Server PLL, both of which are seamlessly integrated with Esri’s Arc- GIS. Cityworks Server AMS manages assets within the City’s Public Works department, Parks, Buildings and Facilities, Warehouse, and Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants while Cityworks Server PLL manages building permits, inspections, planning, zoning and code enforcement.
“The City of Longview has been using Cloud technologies since 2012,” said Justin Cure, GISP and CGCIO, Information Services Manager at Longview. “We have moved our email to Google Apps and our work management system and web applications on ArcGIS Server to the Cloud.”
With almost three years of operating in the Cloud behind them, Longview has had a chance to fully experience what the Cloud has to offer and to determine if the assumed benefits are authentic. As expected, there is nothing but positive feedback circulating about their move to the Cloud.
“Cloud computing gives us more mobility than ever before,” Cure continued. “We no longer need to access the city network to access our data. We can check email, enter work orders, and modify applications from anywhere with an Internet connection. In addition, it improves reliability. If a server fails in the Cloud, it automatically fails over to another server improving up time. That saves us money because we don't need to invest in redundant systems that could possibly never be used. Lastly, with Cloud computing, we have the opportunity to increase server performance if needed. For example, if we notice our server used for ArcGIS Server applications is not performing because of increased usage, we can quickly modify specifications and improve its capabilities.”
While NTB Associates fully manages and supports Longview’s Cloud instance, there is a small group of users at Longview with Cloud access to make customizations to templates and other items if needed. The users also the functionality of their cloud hosted environment.
Longview has been very successful with using the Cloud to host their work management and GIS solutions. Aside from all the saved resources it has provided, the Cloud has also given Longview a dual environment to use for testing and training without affecting the “live” site. Immediately putting the Cloud into production reduces time for fixes, lowers maintenance, and lessens environment changes. With the managed solution that Longview has selected, the City has realized a savings in IT resources and staff time because they no longer have to manage system setup, software upgrades, security, or day-today database management tasks.
While in this article, NTB highlights the City of Longview, within the three years of providing cloud hosting services, NTB has increased their hosted client base. NTB currently has the City of Kilgore, TX, Town of Prosper, TX, City of Monroe, LA and is under contract with the City of Midland, TX to host GIS, Work Order and Asset Management or both systems within the NTB cloud environment.