States Driving Data Center Consolidation

The state of Delaware this week inked a contract with a design architect to move forward with a new data center it plans to build in 2008.

Bill Hickox, the chief operating officer for Delaware’s Department of Technology & Information in Dover, says the goal is to break ground in spring on a new primary data center. The third-tier facility will replace a number of smaller data centers and server rooms throughout the state into a more reliable, secure environment.

The First State is just one of many embarking on data center consolidation initiatives. A new report from the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) shows the move toward IT consolidation is being increasingly embraced.

NASCIO’s report, “Enterprise Data Center Consolidation in the States: Strategies and Business Justification,” is based on a survey of 29 states representing about 46% of the U.S. population. Factors driving data center consolidation include disaster recovery, replication, redundancy and fault tolerance, and cost savings.

“Consolidation of a state’s data processing assets and the movement to a centralized data environment is laying the foundation for a fundamental change in the way states do business and how states protect their assets,” says Kyle Schafer, chief technology officer for West Virginia and a co-chair of NASCIO’s Infrastructure and Services Committee.

The survey shows that 14 percent have already completed data center consolidation, 38 percent have projects in process or partially complete, 24 percent are in the planning phase, 17 percent are proposed and 7 percent have no activity.

When consolidating data centers, most states intend to use a strictly internal operation model, while 17.2 percent will use a combination of internal and outsourced hosting models. The remaining respondents will use either an internally hosted by vendor managed operation or an outsourced hosted model.

An overwhelming 86.2 percent of respondents are using server virtualization technology and nearly half are using open source in support of their data center consolidation efforts. Other technologies of keen interest to respondents for their consolidated data centers include mainframes, physical security and storage area networks.

In Delaware, Hickox already is using VMware server virtualization in 20 different agencies. This will help him achieve what he refers to as the second layer of consolidation — the first is the infrastructure, and the second is the actual equipment. Blade servers are also in use.

Hickox explains that one of the reasons he believes the Department of Technology & Information’s consolidation initiative will be successful is that it creates an enhanced, desirable environment that state agencies want to be a part of rather than mandating consolidation through legislation.

NASCIO survey respondents, too, had some insight that can benefit those who have yet to embark on data center consolidation. Respondents attributed their success to governor’s office support and empowerment of the state CIO by reporting directly to the governor, legislative support and timing to coincide with the funding process, partnerships with the state controller and state personnel office, and agency CIOs championing the cause, among other factors.

Aug 24 2007