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Standards And Storage As Steps To Efficiency

Local, state, and federal agencies are implementing new technologies and tactics in their pursuit of data center consolidation.

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Download the entire December 2010 issue of InformationWeek Government, distributed in an all-digital format (registration required).

Standards And Storage As Steps To Efficiency

Government IT pros looking to achieve streamlined data center operations should consider what's going on in the private sector. Technologies such as server virtualization and data deduplication have moved into mainstream use, along with high-density hardware and innovative cooling schemes. Other technologies, like solid-state drives and fast, converged Fibre Channel over Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet network protocols, still remain distant on the radar for some, but changes are coming.

For many, the first step is standardization. "Implementing standard applications across the agency reduces application and server footprints," says Larry Grossman, program director for IT infrastructure optimization at the Federal Aviation Administration's office of the CIO. In response to the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, the FAA is working on physical data center consolidation as well as centralizing applications and servers in a few locations.

Updating an aging infrastructure begins with establishing a technical baseline by identifying common technology platforms, says Imran Chaudhry, CIO for the District of Columbia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. "We're upgrading to make sure we don't have a mishmash of hardware systems and databases," says Chaudhry, whose agency facilitates the coordination of information exchange between all D.C. criminal justice and law enforcement entities.

Jim Landers, operations branch chief of the IT services office at the Centers for Disease Control, says his agency has combined 34 server rooms in multiple buildings into three data centers over the past six or so years, with a focus on consolidating commonly used services. "People generally need Web services of some sort, and a staging environment," says Landers.

The state of Delaware had myriad systems, requirements, and skill sets, says Douglas Lilly, lead telecom technologist in the state's Department of Technology and Information. An initial push toward a centrally managed network in the late '90s was the state's first foray into consolidation. The IT team decided to move separate e-mail domains and DNS and other services into one location. "It proved to be a good model," says Lilly. "Now everything's managed by a handful of people."

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