Why Data Center Modernization Matters
Older data centers “may be lagging in performance. The hardware may be less reliable and it may fail more often,” says IEEE Fellow Tom Coughlin.
“Performance and reliability can be an issue, along with security. The more modern software and hardware infrastructure is more secure, and depending on the system, there may be more support available around security with newer systems.”
For these reasons, data center refresh has been a useful path forward for federal agencies looking to keep existing data centers fit for the long haul. For USAFE-AFAFRICA, the recent data center refresh increased capacity by 20 percent on a system initially built to support 45,000 end users assigned overseas, plus their family members. Modernization encompassed the full scope of the data center environment.
“Each virtual environment hosts base boundary appliances, Internet Protocol routing and switching equipment, data storage and core service applications — the traditional server farm — for NIPRNET/SIPRNET,” Watson says, referring to the military’s nonclassified and classified networks.
Increasing the system’s capacity anticipates “future growth and operational surges in personnel as required for USAFE-AFAFRICA operations.”
Air Force Moves to make Upgrades
In order to build up capacity and improve operations, USAFE-AFAFRICA replaced network equipment and modernized the existing storage and visualization equipment for main operating bases and geographically separated units (GSUs) at 20 locations in Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Turkey.
“The upgrade consisted of Cisco Unified Computing System and Nexus 9000 series switches for data center router and switching, Dell EMC Storage systems — Dell EMC Unity, Avamar and Data Domain — and VMware ESXi for hosting the virtual environment,” Watson says.
New requirements and new advances in data center technologies made this an opportune moment for the upgrades. “Over time, more data is shared over online resources, and this requires more data storage space to catalog and maintain the old and new data,” Watson says. At the same time, “storage has become less expensive, with faster access, and we can therefore purchase for current and future needs.”
Speed and Scale Come with Tech Improvements
The Air Force made its technology decisions in this case based largely on the promise of enhanced functionality.