City of Atlanta: Troubleshooting Reduced to Minutes Using Half the Staff Thanks to BoxTone

The Organization: City of Atlanta Government

Atlanta, the state capital of Georgia, is the core city of the ninth most populous metropolitan area in the United States, with an official city population of about 480,000, and a metro population that has grown in the past decade by nearly 40%, from 2.9 million to 4.1 million people. More than 9,000 people are employed by the City of Atlanta Government to ensure vital government services are delivered efficiently and timely to residents.

Mission-Critical BlackBerry Platform

The City of Atlanta provides approximately 700 BlackBerry smartphones to everyone from the mayor, executive cabinet members and department heads to inspectors. These BlackBerry users are served by a platform that includes a 4-node Microsoft Exchange Email server cluster, one BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), the Research in Motion (RIM) platform, as well as wireless carriers including Verizon, Sprint and AT&T.

Challenge: Ensure High Availability of BlackBerry Service

For the City of Atlanta, BlackBerry is an invaluable communication tool. “These smartphones go to high-level officials and others who are often not at their desk and need to be accessible at all times,” said Mark Campbell, Interim CIO.

Eventually, the executives of the City of Atlanta issued a mandate requiring that the BlackBerry smartphones work reliably 100 percent of the time. The IT department needed a solution that would proactively monitor both the BlackBerry platform and the individual smartphones; alert platform and BES administrators when something went wrong; and simplify BlackBerry and system-level troubleshooting.

The Solution: BoxTone for BlackBerry

The City of Atlanta considered only one solution, BoxTone for BlackBerry management and monitoring software because, said Campbell, “it came highly recommended by RIM.”

For the City of Atlanta, the BoxTone software addresses the need for proactive BlackBerry monitoring and alerting, notifying administrators in real-time of any problems with an individual smartphone or with the end-to-end supporting platform. BoxTone’s Web-based engineering, operations and technical support consoles show the location of the problem on the platform, allowing the IT group to quickly isolate issues; while comprehensive reports and knowledge-base driven diagnostics enable technical support and administrators to quickly troubleshoot issues, and to make the changes needed to prevent more chronic issues from recurring.

BoxTone also provides the City of Atlanta with added visibility to users by group -- say department heads or cabinet members – to enable that extra-level of service that VIP and other critical end users demand.

Results

Using the BoxTone solution, the City of Atlanta has been able to gain visibility into individual BlackBerry smartphones and the platform as a whole. “Proactive monitoring and alerting lets us know when specific users are having problems, such as emails pending. As a result, we can contact the users before they experience down time,” said Campbell, adding, “We can also see instantly if there’s a problem with our platform or with the carrier.”

BoxTone has reduced the time it takes to troubleshoot problems. Whereas previously it may have taken 20-30 minutes to determine the cause of a problem on an individual BlackBerry smartphone, now this can be done instantly because BoxTone tells technical support and administrators exactly what the problem is, where it is, and how to resolve it. For platform problems, said Campbell, “BoxTone reduces troubleshooting from hours to minutes. We’ve also cut the number of resources required to perform troubleshooting in half; previously we needed two people for troubleshooting, one on the platform side and one on the wireless carrier side. Now we only need one person to do the job.”

By reviewing trending information provided by BoxTone, the IT group is also better able to proactively plan its infrastructure—for example, determining whether they need additional exchange servers, email servers and so on—to meet increasing demand.

As a result, the department has been able to meet its requirement of providing a highly reliable platform for its critical BlackBerry smartphones for the city’s highest-level officials.

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