Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) — This year, Boys Town, one of the largest nonprofit child care and healthcare organizations in the United States, celebrates 100 years of service to children and families. Boys Town is a leader in developing a model of care that helps young people grow into responsible, productive members of society, and their information technology (IT) staff believes in developing and adopting the best technology to serve their organization’s mission. Boys Town is enhancing its IT foundation for the future by adopting Cisco ACI™ as its core software-defined networking (SDN) solution for the two data centers that support the Boys Town village, 12 sites across the United States, and a host of web-based programs. The Cisco® ACI infrastructure will also help Boys Town provide services to partner organizations that help in its mission to serve children and families.
The village of Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska, includes a fire department, a police department, a grade school, a high school, 60 family homes, and health clinics. Also included is a hospital with a nationally recognized treatment center for children with hearing and speech disorders, helping over 60,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing students each year. Boys Town also offers services to families and at-risk youth across the nation as well as the Boys Town National Hotline ®, a free service open 24x7x365 days a year staffed with professionally trained Boys Town counselors that can be reached by phone, chats, text or emails.
These services are all supported by Boys Town’s primary data center on its main campus, and a secondary data center connected via a high-speed network, with all campus buildings connected via fiber. Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®) provides infrastructure for over 600 virtual servers. The IT staff outlined clear requirements and objectives for their new data center network. Boys Town needed to support a hybrid solution for existing legacy applications and also new internally developed child welfare and medical applications that require higher levels of security, agility and mobility. The new infrastructure must support “five nines” availability, be capable of supporting future initiatives, and support an IT as a Service operating model. After months of evaluating competing solutions, they chose Cisco ACI because it was the only platform that could clearly provide everything they required.
“As an IT organization, we’re already competing with cloud providers to deliver services to our organization,” said Jamie Pearson, Vice President of IT at Boys Town. “To compete effectively, we require rapid elasticity to move our workloads to the cloud as needed, and we require multitenancy capability so we can provide services to other organizations that help us in our mission.”
Boys Town engaged the services of Sirius, a national solutions integrator, to assist with the Cisco ACI installation. “Within three months from receiving the gear on the dock, we were in production and passing traffic,” said Matt Welna, Senior Director, IT Operations at Boys Town. “Sirius has been a great partner, and we’ve been delighted to work with Sirius and Cisco to make IT a true innovator that supports the Boys Town mission.”
ACI was deployed in a multi-pod scenario, with the two Boys Town physical data centers merged into one logical data center, which makes it much simpler to accomplish tasks such as VMotioning servers between data centers on a stretch layer between the physical data centers. In addition, a routing core between the two data centers allows them to seamlessly extend layer two and layer three subnets.
“ACI simplifies so many things for our IT environment overall — it simplifies our disaster recovery plan for communication engineering, backup infrastructure for our infrastructure team, and planning active-active between my two data centers for our web infrastructure,” said Matt Welna, Senior Director, IT Operations at Boys Town. “On top of that, we can use ACI microsegmentation to segment off certain business units such as the credit union, and apply contracts inside the data center in front of the electronic medical and health records to more easily restrict access.”
Serving the Boys Town Mission
In addition to its headquarters in Omaha, Boys Town supports sites across the United States that offer family homes, in-home family services, foster care, parenting classes and behavioral health services.
“Nearly every day we see the positive impact of technology — for example, our family consultants across the U.S. who work with at-risk youth and their families rely on us every day, around the clock, to provide secure methods to access and update case information and to remotely access other Boys Town services,” said Jamie Pearson, Vice President of IT at Boys Town. “With our new network we have zero downtime — even when doing maintenance. This is a huge benefit because it means that we never have to worry about downtime for critical services at our hospital or for the text, chat and web support connected to our national suicide hotline.”
About Boys Town
Since 1917, Boys Town’s has given thousands of at-risk children the love, support and education they need to succeed. When Boys Town saves a child, the positive effects ripple through the community, making greater progress for society as a whole. Boys Town’s mission is to change the way America cares for children, families, and communities by providing and promoting an Integrated Continuum of Care that instills Boys Town values to strengthen body, mind, and spirit. Boys Town has facilities in not only Omaha, Nebraska, but in California, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, New England, New York, Texas and Washington DC family homes, in-home family services, foster care, parenting classes and behavioral health services.