Jun 20 2012

4 Challenges to Data Center Consolidation

Government IT leaders discuss hurdles at MeriTalk Data Center Brainstorm.

Col. Chris Miller at the Data Center Brainstorm

U.S. Army Col. Chris Miller gives the keynote at the 2012 Data Center Brainstorm.

Why haven’t all of the government’s data centers already been consolidated? As U.S. Army Col. Chris Miller noted in his keynote speech at the MeriTalk Data Brainstorm event, the technology has arrived. The politics and culture change surrounding a big move like data center consolidation are bigger hurdles than hardware and software.

What, exactly, are the challenges? More importantly, how can agencies overcome them?

  1. The Mission. It needs to come first, so plan your move accordingly. Mission-critical data and staff can’t handle much downtime, but that won’t be necessary if your staff is prepared.
  2. Resistance. Consolidating your data center could mean losing some control over the operation, especially if you are sharing space and dividing the electricity bill. Shared spaces are much more efficient as long as guidelines and protocol are established in advance.
  3. People. Change is hard in large agencies. Make sure your staff understands why your data centers need to be merged. Recognizing the strategic approach will give everyone confidence that the challenges will be worth it. As Tony Celeste, Director of Civilian Agency Sales at Brocade Federal, noted at the Data Center Brainstorm, changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs in your own house can cause issues: The light is different and the bulbs take longer to turn on, but they are saving money and electricity. The effect on people, and your budget, is the same, but on a larger scale.
  4. Strategy. Data centers get especially complicated when you consider that some agencies, such as the U.S. Navy, have data centers on boats. And since data centers don’t need to be on-site, they could be anywhere in the United States. As you plan to merge data centers, pay careful attention to the location, the age and the efficiency of your current centers. Plan ahead to create flexible and future-proof data centers.

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