Montgomery County Boosts Network to Assure Public Safety


  • Cisco 4500X and 3850 switches
  • Cisco Nexus 5500s and 2200s


Assessed requirements, identified best technology, met budget, increased service outcomes for county services, reduced time to market for new solutions within the county.

Montgomery County

  • Industry: State and Local Government
  • |
  • Location: Montgomery County, TX

Client Snapshot: Montgomery County was facing a perfect storm that had been forming for some time. Increasingly leveraging technology to provide better service levels, combined with an explosion in population, the county found itself with rapidly increasing network demand and an aging infrastructure. With little time to spare, they called NWN in to help them architect and implement the best solution for the next ten years.

Business Challenge

Between 2000 and 2010, Montgomery County’s population had grown by 55% — placing it in the top 25 fastest growth rates of any county in the country — with no foreseeable end in sight. A perfect storm had been forming for some time. County departments were automating and leveraging technology to provide better service levels. When combined with the explosion in population, the county found itself facing rapidly increasing network demand.

More specifically, voice over IP, ERP, and voice requirements had become more prevalent across the network, forcing the county to face problems with bandwidth between major sites – not to mention the impact that video conferencing would soon have on the network. At the same time, nearly 30% of the county’s current infrastructure was end-of-life and nearing end-of-support as soon as 2014 and 2015.

Knowing it had to get ahead of the demand curve, the county had been trying to determine the best method to increase bandwidth between all of its hub locations throughout the county. In short, a refresh that would swap out the older systems, for new technology that would not only meet demand, but also grow with the ever-expanding county over the next ten years. Ideally, Montgomery County was also looking for a reliable, local partner with national presence to assess, recommend and set up their infrastructure.


Bobby Powell, Montgomery County’s Network Operations Manager, had only been on the job for about a year, having inherited the existing network from his predecessor. He had turned to the provider of record for the previous years to perform an assessment and prepare a proposal for the recommended upgrade. Upon receiving the proposal, Bobby was “shocked” with its $7.5M price tag. He needed a second opinion and time was running out to get started. That’s when NWN was called in to provide their own assessment and recommendations.

NWN’s representative and architect responded quickly, setting up an immediate meeting where they presented their own take on the assessment data. With the old network a lot of things had not been configured optimally, NWN believed this was an ideal opportunity to clean it up. Primary consideration was given to the limited budget public entities typically have to work with. NWN wanted to provide the biggest return on the investment that was possible.

Under a considerable time crunch, partnering with Cisco, NWN put together a proposed solution that exceeded the anticipated ten year requirements and met the county’s budget goal of $1.5M. Recognizing that what NWN had proposed amounted to a “massive difference” in price and performance, Bobby and his team now had to move quickly in order to get the project into the current budget cycle. The elapsed time from the initial meeting with NWN to the start of implementation was less than three months.

The project encompassed six separate sites across the county. NWN’s solution first called for several ancillary improvements. For example, the county was relying on a 1 Gb dark fiber ring that would bottleneck easily and wasn’t set up for growth. An upgrade to 10 Gb was implemented around the entire county.

The core technologies proposed and implemented included Cisco UC Catalyst 4500X and 3850 Series Switches for 10GbE connectivity between sites. In addition, NWN assisted ICTX in providing the correct fiber type and wavelength between the locations. Cisco Nexus 5500s and 2200s were deployed in the data center to increase virtualization capabilities (VMware). In the time following the initial implementation, NWN has since increased the data center footprint.

In addition, NWN provided implementation services that were truly hands-on, and responded quickly when needed. Elapsed time from start to finish was just four months.


Business Results

To fully appreciate the results, it is important to understand the critical nature of the services the new network has positively impacted. In addition to large amount of county and citizen-driven business, all of the county’s public safety relies on the network. All access to 9-11 emergency services; over 500 police officers with mobile data computers who are dispatched and manage their operations 24x7x365 through the network; the entire court system, including twelve criminal courts, and all of the proceedings, paperwork and records; the Sheriff’s Department and the massive jail they run, including all the fail operations, phones, video cameras, and computers, as well as, all marriage licenses, death certificates, and more, all rely on the network.

First and foremost, as a result of the network strategy NWN proposed and executed, Montgomery County achieved its ultimate goal of significantly improving network performance, while laying the ground work to expand band-width intensive services over the next ten years. In the time period prior to the upgrade, the main data center for the county was saturated, with crashes occurring twice. In the time since the upgrade, the network has demonstrated more than sufficient capacity, with no interruption.

More specifically, with the new technology, Montgomery County has been able to increase in service outcomes and capabilities for county services, including: video conferencing; faster response to internal resources including email, voice, and ERP; as well as increased throughput to internet.

Second, there has been a noticeable reduction in time to market for net new solutions within the county. No longer must bandwidth impact be assessed when new services need to be added, effectively removing the network as a bottleneck within the county.

Finally, the county has a proven technology solution that is easily upgraded and extended as additional requirements are needed. For example, NWN and the county are already discussing more than doubling the number of video cameras in use across the county for traffic, prison and infrastructure surveillance. Ultimately the entire network infrastructure will be duplicated to accommodate the increase.

To Bobby, the one thing most important to him is the relationship both he and NWN have built together. Bobby recently told us, “NWN has become a valuable resource for me – a partner – one that I trust and admire”. “I cannot use strong enough language to express the value of the working relationship we share together”, he added.

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