New Opportunities in the Government Sector: Part 1

Across the world there are new opportunities for data center and IT consulting companies to capitalize on the consolidation projects being launched in the Government sector.  Like commercial enterprises, governments focusing on governance (no pun intended) of IT see the benefits of consolidation of the data processing footprint.  Also like commercial enterprises, governments have business silos (perhaps even more so than commercial enterprises), with duplication of functions and roles, overlapping systems and technology, as well as lots and lots of waste.  Consolidation portends cost savings through elimination of non-beneficial redundancies, and better application of good governance processes to the holistic IT environment.

In the government sector, these projects are big.  Really big.  In a series of posts, we’ll cover several countries around the globe in which the government is planning large scale data center consolidations.

Part 1:  United States of America

In the United States (my home country), the federal government has embarked upon a six-month planning cycle to address data center sprawl.  Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, instructed federal agency CIO’s to embark on a broad consolidation initiative to bring control to the government’s data center sprawl (now counting over 1,000 data centers).  Goals of the initiative include:

Green Data Centers: Some things are easier than others

When recently interviewed for a magazine article, I was asked about Green initiatives by data center operators.  There are lots of innovative techniques for reducing power consumption in data centers, and lots of ways to apply renewable resources.  The fact of the matter is that for the data center operator, some of the options are compelling, some are possible but not very compelling, and others are compelling but not reasonably possible.

Wind Power for Data Centers

The challenge in using green energy alternatives such as wind or solar power in data centers is power density.   Data centers consume a lot of power with respect to their physical footprint, so they need very large solar arrays or large wind turbine farms to generate the necessary power for the facility.  Consequently, the amount of time required to reach the positive ROI point with the solar or wind power equipment is typically quite long.  This economic detail is often the inflection point for deciding whether to apply green energy alternatives in the data center plan.

The Resilient Dynamic Data Center

I attended the 2009 IT Roadmap Conference in Atlanta, Georgia this week and sat in on the presentation by Johna Till Johnson of Nemertes Research, entitled “Building a Resilient Dynamic Data Center.” The presentation was a summary of hundreds of hours of discussions with data center operators and enterprises with data centers.

The information was summarized and presented in the framework of trends- from old to new. Of the data centers investigated, the ages were approximately 18 years old and the youngest around eight years old.

Beginning with the older sites, this vintage data center was built favoring reliability over responsiveness to change or business agility. The rate of growth within the data center was low, HVAC and power were relatively static, and there was little network infrastructure.

Windows on a Mainframe? Oh My!

Microsoft Windows running on a mainframe? Could this be the greatest abomination since the Labradoodle (before you Labradoodle owners out there skewer me, I’m sorry but the Labrador Retriever is such a wonderful dog and to corrupt this fine breed with Poodle blood is a bane to me)? Anyway, this week’s Network World magazine carries…

AFCOM Data Center Institute: The Economic Downturn and its Impact on IT

In the Data Center World keynote address in Orlando, Florida today, four distinguished panelists shared the results of Data Center Institute (DCI) research on the impact of the economic downturn on the data center.  This research was conducted over a number of months through surveys of enterprise data centers across the AFCOM membership.

There are four clear indicators that emerged from this research:

Container Data Centers: A Step Along the Green Path

As a bit of background and at the risk of stating the obvious, let’s quickly review some basics about energy efficiency and the Data Center.  It has been estimated that on average, electricity costs account for over 40% of data center operational expenses.  In 2006, American data centers consumed more electricity than all the televisions in America.  The cost to power a typical server now exceeds the cost to buy it, when viewed over a three-year horizon.  Data Centers typically operate more than 2.5 times the cooling capacity needed to maintain the IT equipment.  On average, less than 50% of the cool air in a chilled-air data center actually makes it to the IT equipment.

Those first few points are likely already well understood by the reader, or are at least consistent with other similar metrics quoted in the Green dialogue.  The last one, which speaks to the challenges of efficiently cooling IT equipment, is what I’d like to talk about in more depth.

Paint Your Moose Green

In these times of economic stagnation, IT leaders’ attention turns to cost savings.   Indeed in times like these, the CFO is likely exerting strong authority and demanding budget concessions from departments across the enterprise.

Many companies are aggressively consolidating data centers as one way to address this demand.   There are a number of significant cost savings opportunities with data center consolidation, in spite of the complexity involved in successfully executing a consolidation plan.   Many of those, in turn, come from savings due to increased efficiencies of operation as compared to the pre-consolidated state of affairs.   In particular, we’re talking about efficiencies from removing redundancy of maintenance costs, and centralized control of operational and support expenses.