Everything, despite what you may have heard, isn’t always bigger in Texas. And that mantra most definitely applies to the state’s data center footprint. If you’ll recall, the state recently embarked on a legislatively mandated IT consolidation effort, which saw the Department of Information Resources (DIR) reduce use of legacy data centers and shift resources to “two regionally diverse state data centers.”
That work achieved a major milestone at the beginning of August, as Texas’ DIR proudly proclaimed that it had achieved 75 percent of its IT consolidation target.
“This milestone represents the reality of the Legislature’s vision and is the result of much hard work on the part of the program team and, most importantly, the agencies that participate in the Statewide Technology Center,” said Todd Kimbriel, the Chief Information Officer of Texas, in an official statement from the agency.
Like many states, Texas is battling against an aging IT infrastructure in an age where agility, reduced complexity and transparency are king. That’s why as part of its consolidation efforts, the state has also implemented a hardware refresh policy. In 2006, only 50 percent of the state’s IT equipment was current, but today more than 90 percent of the IT equipment is modernized and updated, according to Texas’ DIR. The same is true of the state’s software, of which more than 90 percent is current and “therefore better supported and less vulnerable to attacks.”
While Texas is certainly one of the larger states to embark on a consolidation initiative, it is by no means the only one. And cities are consolidating too. Virginia Beach, Va., the commonwealth’s largest city, underwent a similar consolidation after suffering from serious downtime as a result of its outdated and siloed infrastructure. For example, the city was using four different storage systems, according to a recent StateTech article.
That’s why the city has decided to upgrade to a VCE Vblock, a converged infrastructure that will reduce the city’s physical data center footprint from 29 racks down to four, and ultimately save the city $675,184 annually in maintenance, labor, and power and cooling costs, according to Virginia Beach CIO Matthew Arvay.
The sort of work that Texas and Virginia are embarking on with IT consolidation is incredibly important, even if it’s not the most glamorous part of state IT. Two years ago, the Texas DIR was rewarded by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) with a State CIO Office Special Recognition award for the strategy and planning it put into its IT consolidation initiative.
The fact that planning work that started back in 2011 is now paying off in 2016 shows that IT infrastructure planning is a long game. Which is why many states simply can’t afford to put such initiatives off indefinitely: the cost of the state’s IT future depends on forward thinking.