Nearshore Americas

State of the Art IBM Data Center Aims at Making Guadalajara a “Smarter City”

By Duncan Tucker

As part of its “Smarter Cities” initiative to improve high-potential cities around the world, IBM opened Mexico’s first Smarter Data Center at its Guadalajara Technology Campus in September. The Smarter Data Center will provide clients in local government and businesses with 3D tools for IT infrastructure planning and modeling accuracy, plus virtual tools for monitoring system performances in real time, thus enabling more informed and timely decision making.

IBM has invested $30 million in the center, a significant chunk of its $70 million budget for hi-tech initiatives and new projects in Mexico in 2012. Present at the inauguration of the center, which will create 6,000 jobs for local workers, was Jalisco Governor Emilio Gonzalez.

The new center will enable “those who sell, manufacturer or offer financial services to offer better products and find better alternatives for their clients,” Gonzalez said. He also praised the local IBM cluster for “creating employment, services and products, and most importantly, knowledge and confidence.”

“Jalisco is grateful to IBM for being one of the most important drivers we have in the consolidation of the IT and communication clusters that exist in our state. It is impressive to see how this sector has been transformed … Innovation has been a hallmark of this sector in our state,” Gonzalez added.

Utilizing top local talent

“IBM has been working in Mexico for over 80 years now,” noted Jesus Michel, the global manager of IBM’s supply chain and shared services, at a talk in Guadalajara in September. He was quick to praise local talent, describing the “existing leadership base” in the local industry as “very important.”

“With any new center that we open, we always need external talent,” he explained, alluding to the Smarter Data Center. Yet, “in the case of Guadalajara the number of international assignees that we’ve needed in the past to start up a mission is minimal. We might bring in a true expert in the subject matter but the leadership is already here.”

Having closely studied Latin America, Michel also said IBM considers Mexico – and specifically Guadalajara – as currently riper for investment than Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica, because of respective “union issues,” “rising costs” and an “incomparable” level of talent in those countries.

Facilitating Outsourcing

Located in El Salto on the southeast outskirts of Guadalajara, the Smarter Data Center currently occupies a space of 600 square meters, but it could grow to four times this size in two further stages of development. Part of IBM’s global network of over 400 data centers, it will also be connected to IBM’s IT Outsourcing Services Command Center which opened in Mexico City in June.

The Guadalajara facility will support not only IT outsourcing, but also information hosting and business application virtualization services, scalable cloud computing projects, and business continuity and disaster recovery services. Utilizing intelligent and predictive data analytics, the center will enable clients to maximize operational performance and decision making, minimize risks and reduce costs through greater energy efficiency.

Creating a Smarter World

The Smarter Data Center was built as part of IBM’s Smarter Cities challenge, which “aims to contribute to the improvement of high-potential cities around the world.” Guadalajara was one of 24 cities chosen to receive an IBM grant through the initiative in 2011.

Initial discussions between city officials and IBM staff revealed problems relating to the accuracy, storage, and accessibility of local governmental data, which prevented citizens and businesses from easily accessing city services. The first step to transforming Guadalajara into a smarter city was to reorganize this data into a single, clear and accessible map of government services. This would lead “to informed decision-making, improved services and better use of funds,” stated an IBM report on Guadalajara in 2011.

The IBM team’s recommendations for delivering better and more efficient services included integrating several disparate city services, processes, and departments; using process mapping and social networking to better connect with citizens and businesses; and developing an integrated IT platform and an e-government system.

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Public University Collaboration

The public University of Guadalajara has been working with IBM on the Smarter Cities initiative. Sharing intellectual property and resources, they are researching the specific infrastructure challenges facing Guadalajara, with the aim of using modern technology to improve transport, healthcare, education, public safety, energy, water management, social programs and environmentalism.

Earlier this year, the collaborators released a statement announcing a specific focus on reducing commute time within the metropolitan area. With the aim of decreasing carbon emissions and reducing the time 1.7 million vehicles spend on Guadalajara’s roads during rush hour by 15 percent, they are developing a hi-tech transportation model that feeds updates to users via mobile devices, enabling them to find more efficient routes across the city. Thus, less congested traffic could soon become one of the first tangible signs of a “smarter Guadalajara.”

Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.

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