Organizations of all sizes had to adapt operations at the onset of the pandemic – and for many local governments, the rapid transition to virtual service delivery for its residents was a steep hill to climb. But the City and County of Denver was already on a path towards more flexible, agile service delivery, easing the incline when the pandemic hit.

Denver is known for its beautiful weather and its wide variety of enriching cultural and outdoor activities, making the city and surrounding metro region attractive to tourists and new residents who move to the city each year. But, with the high quality of life comes higher expectations of the city’s government and service delivery.

When forced to shift all operations to function virtually due to the pandemic, Denver faced gaps in services and difficulty transitioning to a remote working environment. Traditionally, in-person operations such as court proceedings, food assistance programs, and services such as vehicle registration were suddenly forced to pivot to an online-only environment.

While pre-pandemic shifts in IT strategy better prepared Denver, there have still been challenges. Over the past year, the IT team worked to equip employees with the right tools and technologies to not only maintain regular resident services but also to rapidly expand to accommodate new pandemic-related services such as mass healthcare, testing, and vaccination sites – all at a time where tax revenue was down 20 percent. Denver needed to optimize operations wherever possible.

Storage Woes Before COVID-19

Denver’s population has grown significantly in the past several years, and the city boasts more than 700,000 residents and nearly 15,000 employees who serve the growing population. To maintain the services residents expect from their local government, Denver uses approximately 350 applications that support over 50 lines of business.

Denver faced uncertainty with capacity and performance planning before the pandemic, causing routine, month-to-month anxiety about ensuring the right amount of storage was available on the right platforms. With multiple data and storage platforms running operations, there were gaps in services and higher costs associated with the various platforms.

Transitioning all of their employees and services to operate virtually once the pandemic hit was no easy task. To give residents who were faced with mounting pandemic-related issues a more robust customer experience, Denver wanted to expand operations, especially with healthcare services, to be accessible both in-person and virtually – yet it needed the right solutions to execute these changes across a system that was already experiencing issues. They also had to train employees on using the different platforms, which took valuable time and resources away from the mission of efficiently and effectively serving residents.

Pivot to As-a-Service

Costs to install and maintain storage can be intimidating, so investing in a system with relatively low up-front costs and the ability to flex storage plans as needed is essential to the city’s growth. Prior to the pandemic, city technology leaders knew they needed to resolve their ongoing storage issues in a cost-effective way so they could efficiently expand their operations.

To achieve this, Denver leverages an As-a-Service model from Pure Storage. By implementing FlashArray delivered via Pure As-a-Service, city leaders could quantify savings, leverage flexibility, and capitalize on operational efficiencies. With this model, Denver can evaluate capacity needs every month and only utilize what is needed at any given time, allowing for a dynamic and data-forward experience. When the pandemic hit, for example, Denver was better equipped to respond to new needs and deliver necessary services to residents.

After the transition, Denver saw smoother operations, and employees could focus on their mission-critical work – providing new and routine services to improve the citizen experience. Much of the former headache around trying to understand changing storage needs was eliminated – and the IT team could efficiently and effectively address business needs proactively, rather than reacting to them when they became a problem.

As the country sees the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, Denver is hopeful about the future of its government operations, and can remain agile in delivering the high-quality services its residents expect. The ability to maintain operations at a time not only when the demand for services is peaking, but the availability of resources is down, is essential – and Denver is up to the task.

“In the last 12 months, I have not only seen a transformation in the City and County of Denver but in government across the United States,” says Sean Greer, Denver’s IT director of service delivery. “Residents are now able to interact with government more effectively online, and we can be more transparent in our delivery of services. There’s been a huge pivot on how residents engage with local government, and it’s exciting to look forward to the future in terms of that transformation.”

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