Google Cloud VMware Engine Brings Pittsburgh to the Future

The Innovation Series

An Interview with Eric Lannert


Pittsburgh is used to being productive. The city has more bridges than any city in the world, a rich history in the steel industry, and is the meeting place of three major rivers that played a huge role in trading in the early development years of the City of Champions. The unique aspects that make Pittsburgh stand out are continuing on in a new and innovative way with the help of Google Cloud VMware Engine.

In this new blog series, we speak to Eric Lannert from 66degrees and find out how they helped an entire major US city migrate to Google Cloud, and what it means for the city moving forward. Eric Lannert is a Chief Architect focused on Google Cloud since 2013 as both a practitioner and a consultant.


“What were some of Pittsburgh’s problems before transitioning to Google Cloud?


“Pittsburgh’s on-premise systems and legacy applications were getting more expensive to operate and limited the development of new city services.”


“How did the story of the City of Pittsburgh’s success begin?”


“Their journey really started when the CIO for City of Pittsburgh joined a training session on Google Cloud BigQuery. [Heidi Norman, at the time, acting director of the City of Pittsburgh Department of Innovation & Performance, now promoted to CIO] couldn’t get over the ease of use and speed at which she was able to query data from her existing systems – no servers, no provisioning, no clusters, no lead times – the ‘server-less cloud’ lightbulb turned on.


She literally went home that night, click click click, and had answers to questions she’d been asking her team for quite a long time. She was hooked — by Google Cloud in particular, and its server-less platform approach. That really triggered the start of it – and the beauty of this success story is we helped them to move themselves!


“OK, going back a bit, how did you start the actual move of something as big as a city?”


“When the CIO spoke to the mayor about moving to the cloud, and after her experience with Google Cloud, of course she suggested Google and they said they were all-in. Then yes, the next question was ‘How? What’s the journey?’ and that’s where 66degrees came in.


Our CE team worked side-by-side with Google to craft a plan for their team. We worked out a detailed plan for the skills and size of their specific team and trained them to use the VMware systems they were already comfortable with. Google Cloud VMware Engine (GCVE) enables organizations already using VMware to quickly and easily move out of data centers with no retraining needed.  


“What were some of the practical applications of Pittsburgh moving to Google Cloud?”


“There’s now a data pipeline in place for geo-spatial information, a modernized infrastructure, and all-new applications. All these things have led to the city of Pittsburgh being branded  ‘the Smartest City in America.’”


“How did the move actually work?”


“Migrations are about planning, testing, and building trust with application and business owners.  66degrees mapped the requirements and details about the applications and servers, from basic network functionality to business drivers and goals, to arrive at a technical approach, migration strategy, and execution plan. 66degrees was able to implement a migration strategy that provided large scale, parallel migrations with minimal/zero downtime.  Leveraging VMware HCX Replication Assisted vMotion and Google Interconnect.

We also created a timeline for success and built a four-year roadmap for the future. It’s just a win-win, and now Pittsburgh is leading the way for other major cities to start benefiting from everything Google Cloud VMware Engine has to offer, and we’re proud we helped them get there.”


Because that’s one of the many things we’re capable of doing at 66degrees. Create innovative ways through Google Cloud that help major cities and organizations provide the most value to their constituents and customers. Together, we can build stronger together. Contact an expert at 66degrees today. Looking for even more details? Check out this eBook on running VMware workloads in the cloud.

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