Feb 25 2015

Local Governments Look to Software-Defined Data Centers

County IT managers aim to stay competitive by modernizing their data centers.

For Pinellas County, Fla., it’s all about the software.

CIO Martin Rose says the county wants to develop an in-house self-service provisioning model in which agencies can spin up IT resources as they need them, similar to a public cloud. That self-service capability will be based on a software-defined data center (SDCC) that has been in progress for several years.

Pinellas County has virtualized about 75 percent of its servers with VMware, and Rose aims to finish the remainder within 18 months. He’s moving to the Cisco Systems UCS platform this year and intends to virtualize the county’s storage. Going forward, he also intends to virtualize the network segments as software-defined networking gains maturity.


The percentage of capital expenditure savings an organization would realize by creating a greenfield software-defined data center; existing virtualized environments would see a 32% savings

SOURCE: Taneja Group, “Technology Brief: For Lowest Cost and Greatest Agility, Choose Software-Defined Data Center Architectures Over Traditional Hardware-Dependent Designs,” August 2014

“We’ll do anything we can do to streamline county operations through innovation, which includes offering a private self-service cloud,” Rose says. The county already delivers IT resources to a variety of agencies.

Richard Villars, vice president of data center and cloud for IDC, says SDDCs are an evolutionary process in which servers, storage and networking are managed as a single IT resource.

“Organizations have had great success with server and storage virtualization, and network virtualization holds great promise,” Villars says. “As they approach their refresh cycles, many organizations will look for ways to make them interdependent.”

Service Bureau

Franklin County, Ohio, also plans to develop an SDDC to serve the county’s 47 agencies.

County Auditor Clarence Mingo intends to build an IT capability that can compete with the likes of Microsoft Azure. “It got to a point where county agencies and departments really didn’t have to come to the county data center for IT resources, so we had to find ways to stay competitive,” he explains. “We needed to bring in expertise from the private sector.”

Franklin County brought in Ishreth Sameem as CIO, and he got to work virtualizing servers with VMware over Cisco UCS. “When I started here, we were about 17 percent virtualized. We are now closer to 80 percent,” he says.

Sameem says the county also plans to explore industry-leading technologies to virtualize the storage and network segments over the next 18 months. “One of the things we’re looking at is extending our VLANs out to our disaster recovery site,” he says, noting that the overall goal is to bring networking under a single domain to save on overhead and downtime.


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