Data Center Sharing

California's Solano County leases data center space to Orange County to house continuity of operations gear.

Sheriff's deputies, police officers and firefighters look beyond their city and county borders and team up to fight crime and battle fires. So why shouldn't neighboring IT administrators do the same and take advantage of each other's IT resources?

Several county IT administrators in California are doing just that to improve continuity of operations. Instead of finding office space in their own counties or leasing space at commercial data centers, they are turning to other county data centers to house their disaster recovery sites. 

For example, Orange County recently leased space in Solano County's data center to house its backup servers, SAN and data backup equipment, says KC Roestenberg, Orange County's director of IT shared services. Similarly, for several years now, Los Angeles County's Internal Services Department has leased 2,400 square feet of floor space at Orange County's data center to serve as its disaster recovery facility.

Orange County's IT staffers flew up to Solano County to install the equipment, which includes about 16 servers, one storage area network and a virtual tape library (VTL). While the disaster site is operational, some work remains, and the IT staff will put in the finishing touches this fall. When the project is complete, a DS3 line will connect the two county data centers, and Orange County's data will be mirrored onto the secondary SAN in Solano County and backed up to the VTL. Orange County's IT staff will be able to manage the disaster recovery site remotely, Roestenberg says. 

"Commercial data center facilities would charge significantly more than another county because they have to make a profit," Roestenberg says. "But working with another county, we can help each other. Every now and then, if we need to reboot a server or mount a tape, Solano's staff helps us out."

Assisting Orange County in establishing its disaster recovery presence in Solano's data center was a great learning experience for both counties, says Solano County CIO Ira Rosenthal.

"We understand each other's business and priorities, and that makes for a very supportive working relationship," he says.

Solano County hopes to build a secondary site for its own disaster recovery purposes. Given its budget constraints, Solano County cannot afford a disaster recovery site now, but it will continue to explore having Orange County host it when funds become available, Rosenthal says.

"[We] are looking forward to more opportunities to leverage each others' strengths and capabilities to get the most value for our taxpayers," he says.

Nov 03 2009