City of Boston Maps Out SAN

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2001-11-26

When Bostons transportation department set out to create a video database of the citys assets, they found in Xiotech Corp.s Magnitude SAN product the reliable, low-maintenance storage system they needed to house the 600GB of footage.

eWeek Labs recently toured the project—called the Virtual City of Boston System—with Technology and Transportation Planner Tom Kadzis and discussed the application and 1.5-terabyte storage system that supports it.

"Everything we do is out there—thats where our business is. With this application, were bringing the outside world in," said Kadzis of the virtual city system, which enables more than 100 users in several city departments to save money by reducing trips to the field.

The virtual city system comprises video footage of 800 miles of Boston city streets, linked to GIS (geographic information systems) maps and available for city use on Bostons WANs and LANs.

When the city was planning the system in early 1999, its MIS department had its hands full with year 2000 remediation and could spare only minimal IT resources to support the project. The city evaluated storage system proposals from EMC Corp., Storage Group Inc. and Xiotech, and narrowed its options to EMC and Xiotech.

With a presence in the citys server room, EMC had the inside track, but Xiotechs proposal came in at less than half the cost of EMCs, and Kadzis and his group felt theyd have more independence with Xiotechs offering.

The Xiotech box is used almost exclusively for the virtual city application, so the limitation of eight server connections per box has not been a problem. (Organizations that need additional server connections can add them by purchasing a Fibre Channel switch.)

With the help of integrator Lockheed IMS, the city of Boston implemented a geospatial analysis database from Geospan Corp., which sent "Geo-vans" to Boston and filmed more than 750 miles of Boston property.

As a result, the department now has full-motion color video of every street, building, parcel and sign in Boston, with GIS positions spliced into every video frame. The images are available through Xiotechs Magnitude SAN (storage area network) and are accessible from any Windows NT workstation around the city that has the Geospan client software installed.

Installation went smoothly, and the Xiotech system has run trouble-free over the last two years. "They rolled it out of the crate, and it was up and running in half an hour," Kadzis said. "Its working like a charm: Weve never had one problem."

Technical Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at

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