Consider procuring computer and network hardware independently when feasible and procure right-sized systems.
Washoe County’s experience implementing a comprehensive transit ITS program.
Consider independently procuring computer and network hardware when feasible.
- If the agency has in-house competency in information technology hardware, it may consider independently procuring computer and network hardware when feasible. RTC worked with its contractor to identify the computer and network hardware needs for running the transit ITS. The needs included servers, workstations, network routers and switches and other communications hardware. The contractor provided RTC with a list the hardware needs, which allowed the agency to procure the hardware itself. Note that this does not include system-specific hardware such as GPS (global positioning system) antennas, MDTs (mobile data terminals) and IVLUs (integrated vehicle logic units).
Being able to procure its own computer and network hardware gave RTC several advantages. First, it allowed RTC to procure the hardware using relationships and advantageous pricing it had access to. Second, it allowed RTC to procure the brands of equipment with which it felt comfortable. It also allowed the agency to better manage the procurement through a process that tracks the inventory better. Finally, it allowed RTC to procure hardware that could be locally supported. A key potential disadvantage of this approach is that the transit ITS contractor may not provide technical support for hardware-related problems as they would if they were to provide the hardware.
At RTC, all transit ITS servers and communication hardware were procured new. This gave the advantage of not requiring interfacing with legacy hardware and software, such as machines that used different operating systems or databases. If an agency chooses to procure its own hardware, it should follow the requirements of its contractor and procure new hardware when recommended.
- RTC procured separate servers for each of the following transit ITS components: TransitMaster, WebWatch, DataMart, HASTUS, Trapeze and the radio system. Individual servers add capital cost at procurement and at replacement and retirement. The cost of servers also goes beyond the price of the hardware as the addition of these servers and other network switches and routers necessitated the addition of at least one rack in the RTC computer room. More air conditioning was added to the room to keep the servers at the correct operating temperature, increasing the cost of electricity usage. The space they occupy has a cost because it now cannot be used for other purposes.
- RTC Information Technology (IT) staff believes that many of the servers RTC procured are underutilized. In fact, the WebWatch server is currently unused. The functionality of the servers could be combined on fewer machines running virtual servers. Virtual server allows a single machine to operate virtually as two or more separate servers, thereby reducing the needed amount of hardware, rack space and cooling.
The reduction in machines would have resulted in a savings in capital acquisition and ongoing costs. Having fewer machines also simplifies the tasks of monitoring servers, performing data backup and disaster recovery. As servers become faster and more powerful, agencies should consider ways, such as virtual servers, to minimize the amount of hardware it must buy and maintain.
Author: Tina Wu, Matt Weatherford, Ancila Kaiparambil, Linna Zhang
Published By: Federal Transit Administration U.S. Department of Transportation
Source Date: May 2010
Other Reference Number: FTA Report FTA- NV-26-7005-2010.1URL: http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/RTC_ITS_Eval_Study_section508.pdf
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