Founded in 1841, Kingston Police is among the oldest police services in Canada, employing 273 staff members with a budget of over $44 million. Kingston Police serves, supports, and protects the safety of over 135,000 residents of the southeastern Ontario City of Kingston.
- Ensure 24x7 network and application availability to E911 first responders, police officers, and support staff
- Maximize resources with a small IT staff and a limited budget
- Do more with less by reducing the complexity and cost of existing VMware IT infrastructure
- Implement automated failover solutions to ensure critical systems remain operational during outages
The Scale Computing Solution
- Simple to use and configure, SC//Platform enables the IT team to optimize resources efficiently
- All-inclusive hands-on Advanced Training accelerated the technical proficiency of the internal IT team on all facets of the SC//Platform
- Free integrated HyperCore software allows them to avoid paying expensive, recurring VMware license fees
- Seamlessly supports off-the-shelf applications (i.e., SQL, Exchange, etc), specialized law enforcement applications as well as the next wave of modern AI/ML-based applications (i.e., video analytics, etc)
- Robust automation and orchestration capabilities for Infrastructure as Code including REST API and Ansible Collections
- Instant Scalability: Kingston Police currently have more than 100 VMs running on SC//Platform and can spin up or tear down new VMs in a few clicks
- Automated Redundancy: Data is protected with multiple layers of replication and data protection between two clusters
- Application Availability: Highly available integrated solution ensures 24x7 reliability of mission critical E911 services
- High Touch Customer Service: Scale Computing’s knowledgeable and highly responsive technical support team is always a phone call away, ensuring that issues are addressed promptly and efficiently
Other hyperconverged platforms require so much extra maintenance, so having something simple that just works is a game changer. This means we can focus on other priorities and not have to worry about all the little details to keep other systems running properly.— Tim Bramham, Director of IT, Kingston Police
With Scale Computing the Platform is so simple, you can learn it all in an hour. All the most difficult and tedious tasks are hidden from you and they just work.— Tim Bramham, Director of IT, Kingston Police
The Kingston Police IT team wanted to modernize their existing VMware-based IT infrastructure, without breaking the bank. With officers and first responders dependent on access to real-time E911 data and applications, they needed a cost-effective solution that could work from day one.
The Challenge: Future-Proofed IT Infrastructure, On a Budget
As stated on the Kingston Police’s website, “Innovation is required to keep up with rapidly changing technology and human resources practices in a fiscally constrained world.” Like so many other industries, law enforcement has increasingly recognized the pivotal role that IT plays in streamlining operations, enhancing communication, and improving the accuracy and efficiency of investigations and public safety initiatives.
Tim Bramham, a 25-year IT veteran joined the Kingston Police as their Director of IT in May 2022. In this capacity, Bramham oversees a small team of four IT specialists who are tasked with ensuring that the police officers and supporting personnel are able to access critical information when they need it – whether in one of their two emergency command posts or across its fleet of over 140 emergency vehicles.
As Bramham notes, “funding for policing has been under a microscope over the last few years so every dollar that we spend has to be carefully planned and accounted for. You need to walk a fine line between upholding your duty to protect the public while always being mindful of the budget. By undertaking this IT modernization initiative, we saw an opportunity to not only reduce our spend on VMware but to also improve the effectiveness of our IT staff.”
Serving as a primary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), all 911 calls across the municipality are routed through the Kingston Police communications center. “Our first responders are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week – with 911 being a mission-critical service, we can’t afford even the smallest amount of downtime.”
It was also important that they choose an infrastructure platform that could not only meet their existing needs but also accommodate an increasingly digital future. As bodycam devices that record real-time interactions become standard equipment, police services like Kingston Police will also require advanced data processing and machine-learning capabilities in order to effectively analyze, categorize, and store the vast amounts of footage generated, ensuring transparency, accountability, and timely access to critical information for both officers and the public they serve.
The Solution: A Cost-Effective Solution for Today and Tomorrow
Bramham came to Kingston Police having worked with several hyperconverged solutions in the past, including with Scale Computing. Still, before selecting a new solution for this initiative, he recognized that he needed to do his due diligence and thoroughly evaluate all available options. Ensuring the right fit for Kingston Police's unique operating requirements while being mindful of cost was essential.
“We spent a good six months meeting with vendors including HPE, Dell, and Nutanix to learn about their solutions and capabilities, compare and contrast them, and then turned these findings into a presentation that could be easily understood by non-technical stakeholders. In the end, we agreed that Scale Computing offered the best bang for the buck and decided to go with a total of seven nodes split across two clusters – one at our headquarters and the other at an offsite disaster recovery location with data being automatically replicated between the two to provide full redundancy and ensure uninterrupted access.”
Beyond ticking the boxes of technical and usability features, factors like total cost of ownership were among the key selection criteria. “Not only was the Scale Computing hardware platform very cost-effective in its own right, but the fact that the HyperCore hypervisor is included for free has saved us a bundle since we are no longer subject to VMware’s exorbitant annual license fees.”
Bramham was likewise impressed with the speed and efficacy of the deployment process itself – especially since all of this was taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic when supply chain disruptions were delaying orders by several months. “Scale Computing’s implementation team is truly top-notch. They were always quick to help and made it a very quick and easy process to get set up. Migration of VMs from the old system to the new cluster could have been a real chore but it was totally streamlined with the tools they provide.”
Another top concern for Bramham and his crew was cybersecurity and the ability to quickly recover from an attack. “Ransomware is always a concern – especially so for a municipal police service where the stakes are so high. Scale Computing’s snapshots technology, combined with replication to another cluster and immutable backups, provides us with peace of mind that in the event of an attack, all of our critical data could be quickly recovered.”
The Benefits Heading: “Now everything is just faster and easier”
Since deploying Scale Computing, Bramham and his team have realized a number of efficiency improvements that have not only improved the productivity of their internal team but have served to benefit the entire Service. “Even though our IT team is small, we are constantly being pulled in a million directions every day. The simplicity and ease of use of the SC//Platform means we don’t need to waste unnecessary cycles tweaking settings or troubleshooting issues. We can spin up a new VM in a matter of seconds, and move on to other tasks.”
Moreover, the ability to run both off-the-shelf and custom applications meant they could utilize pre-existing software solutions while also having the flexibility to develop and integrate specialized tools tailored to their specific needs. This versatility made the integration process smoother, as they didn't have to worry about compatibility issues or platform restrictions.
The automation capabilities of SC//Platform have also proved to be invaluable. “After initial setup, you just start deploying VMs. Need to replicate VMs to an offsite disaster recovery site? No problem. A couple clicks and your VMs are now replicating on a fully customizable schedule of your choice. When a firmware update is available, now with just a single click our entire cluster is updated without any downtime.”
Bramham also appreciates the many ways in which Scale Computing has empowered his team: “With a team of just four IT specialists, we had trouble keeping up with an ever-growing punch list of daily demands. This meant we had to retain an outside IT firm to help with managing our old infrastructure. This was not only very costly but it put us at their mercy when it came to implementing even minor configuration changes. The comprehensive and all-inclusive Advance Training provided by Scale Computing – which covered installation support, network support, migration services – has been indispensable in helping our IT staff quickly get up to speed with all facets of the SC//Platform. After just a few sessions, the two members who completed the training are now fully capable of managing, troubleshooting, and optimizing the system. All of this has empowered us to be more self-sufficient. Not only does this save us time and money, but more critically, puts us back in control.”
But of all the benefits realized, perhaps none was more important than the human factor behind the technology. “When we do encounter an issue and need to contact customer support, we don’t have to navigate a phone tree and endure multiple levels of escalation to get a real person on the line. When you run into an issue you get connected with a knowledgeable technician who is prepared to help without having to open a ticket or escalate to someone else. This whole experience could have been difficult and frustrating but Scale Computing showed that they are very customer-focused and will do whatever it takes to make things right.”