California Contractors State Licensing Board gets Virtual Virtualization helps CLSB become more efficient.


Solution: Workspace and Datacenter Services

Benefits:  Fully Virtualized IaaS Infrastructure; Remote Access to all locations; Consolidated Software Licensing. Significantly reduced travel expenses; Drastically improved uptime and processing speed; Knowledge transfer.

California Contractors State Licensing Board gets Virtual

  • Industry: State and Local Government
  • |
  • Location: Sacramento, CA

Client Snapshot: The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) protects consumers by licensing and regulating construction contractors in the State of California. CSLB administers examinations to test prospective licensees, issues licenses, and investigates complaints against licensed and unlicensed contractors.


Business Challenge

The Contractors State License Board protects consumers by licensing and regulating construction contractors in the state of California. In addition to educating consumers about contractors and construction law, CSLB administers examinations to test prospective licensees, issues licenses, and investigates complaints against licensed and unlicensed contractors.

Headquartered in Sacramento with 13 offices spread across the state, CSLB was relying on a ten year old distributed IT infrastructure that in pockets lacked virtualization and remote access capabilities. By the numbers, there were 13 sites, 8 testing centers, 17 hosts and 50 virtual servers running on VMware 5.1.

The IT group, comprised of just two individuals, faced a variety of challenges related to the older infrastructure. For instance, when systems went down, they would have to travel to the remote locations to make necessary repairs – in some cases taking up to two days in travel and downtime.

One of the more important aspects of CSLB’s mission was to license contractors. The licensing process included online testing conducted at several of the Board’s locations. If the systems were down, then the contractors were turned away and the tests rescheduled for another day. To make matters worse, if the system was up, it usually ran slow, frustrating both those administering and taking the tests.

CSLB recognized the need to move from their ten year old legacy structure to an updated approach that would include complete virtualization and the ability to manage all sites remotely from Sacramento. At the same time, IT recognized the value of an experienced outside firm to guide them through the sourcing and implementation. Finally, they were also painfully aware of the budget limitations that came with being a state government entity.


Approach

In May of 2013, CSLB engaged NWN to develop a solution for upgrading their datacenter and assuring complete remote access. As a first step NWN conducted a Site Recovery Manager (SRM) trial period of one month in an effort to collect more data to identify key pain points. This allowed CSLB to fully understand what was possible, from an array of solutions available. It also facilitated the introduction of VMware’s vCloud Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) as the preferred solution – one that CSLB had not even considered initially.

In architecting the virtual datacenter solution, NWN consultants focused on vCenter licenses for each of CSLB’s main sites in Sacramento and Fresno. They also recommended installing and configuring VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat to provide high availability support for the two vCenter implementations. A formal VMware Site Recovery Manager deployment planning effort was also included.

At the request of CSLB, NWN was also instrumental in providing a full knowledge transfer to IT staff throughout the engagement. The knowledge transfer was not intended to replace formal technical training and certification, but instead to provide a more meaningful level of engagement and customer understanding for the decisions made and the implementation steps taken.


Business Results

The complete virtualization of its datacenter infrastructure has dynamically changed the way CSLB is able to service its customers, and even the way it thinks about the added value their IT team can deliver in the future.

For starters, the IT team is no longer always on the road. They’re now able to stay put and focus more on delivering more resources and services to internal and external end users. All of the disparate old licenses have been consolidated under one contract for better management and control moving forward. And there’s just one renewal notice, again freeing up valuable time.

For IT it’s just a better working environment, with drastically improved performance and control. There has also been a significant improvement in performance, with far greater data speed that shows up in testing throughput, ease of scheduling, and more. Not to mention, no more cancelled contractor testing appointments due to lengthy downtime cycles. Beyond the testing and licensing, CSLB is responsible for enforcement of complaints, they too are benefiting by being able to access data quicker, and recently cited a big difference in their work throughput as a result.

The knowledge transfer was chief among the benefits CSLB felt they received. They appreciated the unintimidating way that NWN shared their expertise along the way. As a result, the IT team is fully self-sufficient in managing the new infrastructure.

Most importantly, it has fundamentally shifted the way CSLB is doing business. IT is looking at other ways in which virtualization can be expanded to create more efficiencies and cost savings. They’re also looking further out into the business to address business problems such as speeding up and assuring greater compliance in the license renewal process – the Board’s primary source of funding.

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