California Plans Fast Data Center Consolidation

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When it comes to inefficient legacy data center space, the Governator has a clear message: “Hasta la Vista, baby!”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order Tuesday stipulating that California reduce the total amount of data center square footage currently utilized by state agencies by 25 percent by July, and by 50 percent by July 2011.

The executive order sets in motion a massive, fast-moving data center consolidation of the 400 data centers and server rooms operated by California state agencies, which span 400,000 square feet of space and house more than 9,500 servers. That means eliminating 100,000 square feet of data center space in less than five months, and another 100,000 square feet by July 2011.

The initiative isn’t just targeting square footage. Schwarzenegger’s order also emphasizes the need to house applications in a Tier III or Tier IV  data center, based on the Uptime Institute reliability scale.

State May Seek Third-Party Space
In most cases, agencies will migrate applications to a state-owned data center. But given the timetable, state officials say some workloads may move to third-party data centers, potentially boosting demand for colocation and managed hosting services.

“The state will be using existing state Tier III data centers and may use private Tier III data centers to the extent it is necessary,” said Adrian Farley, Chief Deputy Director for Policy and Program Management for the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

“Since the beginning of my administration, I have been a strong advocate for rebuilding the state’s technology systems to make them work better and more efficiently for the people of California,” Gov. Schwarzenegger said in making the announcement Tuesday. “This action will increase transparency in spending, promote greater cost savings and define specific targets to reduce energy usage in our IT systems and further consolidate services.”

Here’s the text of the section of the executive order discussing data centers:

The CIOs of all agencies under my direct executive authority shall work with the OCIO to reduce the total amount of data center square footage currently utilized by state agencies by 25 percent by July 2010, and by 50 percent by July 2011. In addition, CIOs shall begin to transition the hosting of all mission critical and public-facing applications to a Tier III data center designated by the OCIO by no later than September 2010, and shall commence closing all existing server rooms that house non-network equipment by June 2013. Transition plans shall be in accordance with guidance provided by the OCIO. Effective immediately, all new mission critical and public-facing applications and major server refreshes shall be hosted in a Tier III data center as designated by the OCIO. Progress toward these targets shall be reported to the OCIO on a quarterly basis beginning April 2010. The OCIO shall publicly report the progress of this effort on its website.

The state has $3 billion in annual IT expenditures. In the past two years the state has begun consolidating some aging department-level data centers into a more modern facility in Vacaville that the state is leasing from the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF), a nonprofit that provides workers compensation insurance to employers. The facility has two backup generators to ensure uninterrupted power in a utility blackout. The Vacaville site has energy-efficient cooling systems in raised-floor server rooms and solar panels that can provide about 2.5 percent of the facility’s electricity usage.

OTS Saves Through Migration
The state Office of Technology Services has reduced its infrastructure costs by $100,000 a month since moving from an aging Sacramento site to the Vacaville facility, which has earned a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification, the company said today. LEED is a voluntary rating system for energy efficient buildings overseen by the US Green Building Council (USGBC).

The Vacaville facility also makes extensive use of virtualization to improve the utilization of servers. That approach is likely to be the key to compressing large amounts of surplus data center space into the Vacaville facility.

“It may not require a large amount of data center space,” said Brian Lillie, the chief information officer at Equinix, the largest provider of colocation space. “They’re probably going to do some housekeeping with their applications and push the public-facing ones to the edge of the network. That’s a great architecture, and they may get a significant amount of savings.”

The most successful customers at colocation providers like Equinix typically optimize their operations to get the most bang for their buck from the high-density floor space. Equinix doesn’t discuss its customers, but one known example is Salesforce.com, which runs most of its operations from 1,000 servers housed in Equinix facilities on each coast.

If the state needs to turn to third-party data centers, it will find a supply picture that improves as additional inventory comes online later this year. “Demand is still outstripping supply,” said Lillie of Equinix, which is among the companies bringing new space online in Silicon Valley this year. “When it comes to Tier III space that’s even tighter. There’s probably a lot more Tier I and Tier II space available.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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2 Comments

  1. Nicole

    is there a play for CA business? NetApp connection