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GCN : November 2013
The best results come from agencies that don t just empty out server closets, say gov- ernment IT experts, but engage in an archi- tectural overhaul that includes virtualized servers, storage and desktops, converged networks, and the latest energy-e cient power and cooling systems. "Every federal customer I talk to men- tions the number of data centers as their metric. They have 12 data centers, and they want to get down to four, said Doug Bourgeois, vice president of VMware Pub- lic Sector. "But there s a big di erence if you close an extra-large data center with 100,000 square feet and a closet that is 200 square feet. The folks on Capitol Hill realize that, and they are shifting to more of a focus on overall IT costs. Je Baxter, a consulting systems engi- neer for NetApp U.S. Public Sector, agreed. "The initial focus was on the sheer number of data centers, and drawing that number down is still a top-line focus," he said. "But we re also seeing an increased focus on all the other metrics: cost savings, power ef- ficiency and space e ciency," "It s not just about closing down these 1,200 server closets, but in the process how do we reduce our overall amount of power ... and how do we make the remain- ing data centers more e cient." The Defense Department, for example, has established aggressive goals for data center consolidation, targeting 589 facili- ties for closure between 2010 and 2014, according to Data.gov. Data center and network consolidation are the first step in DOD CIO Teri Takai s 10-point plan for IT modernization. In a 2012 report, Takai said DOD is mi- grating from 700 data centers to fewer than 100, while also reducing the number of network operations centers from 65 to 25. At the same time, DOD is shifting to a secure, private cloud infrastructure based on standard IT platforms. Besides improv- ing security and providing faster delivery of new services, the DOD IT consolidation and modernization e ort will "save bil- lions through cost e ciencies," she said. Bourgeois estimates that federal agen- cies have virtualized 40 percent of their servers. "That means there are still 60 percent of servers out there that could be virtualized," he said. "If you use a 4-to-1 consolidation ratio, that s somewhere be- tween 40 percent and 50 percent of the po- tential cost reduction that s still out there to be captured." CLEANING UP IN WASHINGTON At the Energy Department, the Hanford nuclear site cleanup in Washington state is reporting significant savings from the deployment of a secure private cloud in- frastructure that replaced 13 data centers and server farms scattered across its 560 square mile campus. Using virtualization, the DOE contrac- tor that operates Hanford s data centers was able to shrink the number of physical servers from 700 down to 16. Hanford is using the FlexPod converged IT architec- ture, which includes VMware for virtual- ized servers and desktops, Cisco network- ing gear and NetApp storage. "It s shocking" how much floor space we opened up, said Todd Eckman, vice presi- dent of DOE contractor, the Mission Sup- port Alliance. "In a building that s 3,000 square feet, we re now taking up only a couple hundred. We re repurposing the space for other uses." Hanford s main data center -- plus a fully virtualized back-up data center -- now runs 1,300 applications and supports 7,000 desktop users and 10,000 Voice over IP users. Hanford has deployed 1,500 thin clients as part of its desktop virtualization e ort, with plans to convert its entire workforce to the technology by the end of 2015. Eck- man said Hanford expects to save $40 mil- lion on desktop virtualization alone be- tween now and 2019. "The cost savings from desktop virtual- ization are everywhere," Eckman said. "It s the refresh costs of the hardware. Thin cli- ents cost anywhere from half to a third as much as desktops. The life cycle of the thin client far exceeds the legacy device ... User training and maintenance cost less, too. With new, state-of-the-art air condition- ing and uninterruptible power supplies, Hanford s consolidated data center is driv- ing down energy costs, too. DOE doesn t know exactly how much energy savings came as a result of the data center consolidation at Hanford because it didn t track the electrical bills for all of the server closets that it operated in the past. But one application that it could measure -- the replacement of a traditional Lucent telephone system with VoIP phones -- saw an 89 percent power reduction. Addition- ally, DOE said the virtualized thin clients that it has deployed use 80 percent less power than traditional desktops. "There s no doubt that we dramatically re- duced power at the desktop and in the data centers by our virtualization e orts, VoIP conversion and thin client activity," Eckman 4. ADOPT ENERGY-EFFICIENT COOLING AND POWER SYSTEMS One of the best investments agencies can make is modern air conditioning systems for their data centers. Utah bought an evaporated AC system and adopted hot-and-cold aisle containment, and it immediately started saving $8,500 per month in its electric bill. 5. DEPLOY STATE-OF-THE-ART STORAGE SYSTEMS Storage represents 25 percent to 50 percent of data center expenditures, so it is an area for signi cant capital and operational savings. Hanford is using 50 percent fewer storage drives -- with commensurate savings in oor space and electricity -- because of NetApp's cloning, provisioning, ash and other optimization technologies. 6. ADD ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING SOFTWARE TO YOUR IT INFRASTRUCTURE Environmental monitoring software allows data center operators to track ef ciency on a real-time basis. Utah is using the Niagara Framework to record a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) score ranging from 1.2 to 1.3, with 1.0 being a perfect score. GCN NOVEMBER 2013 • GCN.COM 29