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GCN : August 2014
found that traditional DR involved a high, fixed capital expense. As a consequence it could only afford to provide DR to its most urgent IT applications; so the city is moving DR to the cloud, which offers a pay-as-you-go approach and usage-based pricing. The cloud lets Asheville enter DR mode for a couple of days and a few hundred dollars, versus the ongoing hardware costs of operating a physical DR facility. "That is something we can afford," said Jonathan Feldman, Asheville's CIO. Converged infrastructure is another path governments are taking toward this more flexible next-generation data cen- ter. The technology combines storage, server and networking components in the same box along with management soft- ware. The data-center-in-a-box approach reduces the amount of physical hard- ware required and takes up less space in a server rack. The smaller size helps reduce power and cooling costs as well. Converged solu tions also ship with a set amount of compute and storage capacity. Converged infrastructure is a market on the move. Nutanix, a San Jose, Calif.- based company that makes converged in- frastructure, has seen an uptick in govern- ment interest in converged technology. Twenty-two months ago, three federal customers were using the company's con- verged infrastructure in some capacity, said Dave Gwyn, a vice president in the federal division of Nutanix. The company, as of mid June, had 82 federal customers, he said. "Public sector IT departments defi- nitely have converged infrastructure on their radar," added Jesse St. Laurent, vice president of product strategy at SimpliVity Corp., a converged infrastructure vendor based in Westborough, Mass. NEWINGTON CUTS TIME AND EFFORT The town of Newington, Conn., for ex- ample, replaced its data center hard- ware earlier this year with converged infrastructure from SimpliVity's flagship product, OmniCube, a 2U device that combines storage and server functions along with IT data management. A 2U hardware device takes up two rack space units. A full-sized rack generally has room for 42 units. Paul Boutot, Newington's CIO, said the town decided to change out its physical server and storage hardware to reduce its technology footprint, ease administration and cut costs. "The objective is to decrease the amount of time and effort needed for the support of the IT infrastructure itself." Boutot said. Newington's two data centers have been virtualized for years, using VMware Inc.'s ESX server virtualization product. Boutot said the town has been on VM- ware since ESX 2.5.2, which was released in September 2006. The town had been running about 70 virtual machines on its infrastructure, which consisted of three ESX host servers running in each of its data centers. The servers were attached to six iSCSI storage-area network (SAN) appliances and two Microsoft Windows storage appliances. Newington replaced that lineup with four OmniCube CN-3000 systems, with two located in each data center. The Om- niCube is designed to work in VMware environments, according to SimpliVity. The company describes OmniCube as a "building block" that provides storage and server capabilities along with data management features such as deduplica- tion and compression. With the converged infrastructure, there's less equipment to maintain and monitor, Boutot said. The OmniCube de- vices also require less electrical power to operate and should also reduce heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) expenses. The converged hardware streamlines network infrastructure as well. Boutot said he needed 72 cables, 36 for each data center, to support the previous data cen- ter architecture. The new setup involves 20 cables. Each OmniCube has 4 10 GbE connections, while two VMware Virtual- Center servers, which lets the town man- age the OmniCubes, each have a single 10 GbE connection and a 1 GbE connection. The new infrastructure, which went into place in February, has "flattened our network a little bit more," said Boutot. OAKLAND COUNTY STAYS FLEXIBLE Overall, converged infrastructure pro- vides the convenience and manageabil- ity of an all-in-one, data-center-in-a-box solution. But the solution may not be the right fit for every data center upgrade. Oakland County, Mich., for example, considered converged infrastructure when it recently looked at modernizing a data center built in the mid 1990s. But the county opted instead for a reference architecture approach, which will enable it to upgrade portions of its infrastructure without going through a wholesale tech- nology replacement. A reference architecture provides a set of guidelines -- a cookbook of sorts -- for a solution that draws upon the past experi- OAKLAND COUNTY, MICH.'S DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY PROVIDES SERVICES TO GOVERNMENT OFFICES INSIDE THE COUNTY AND WITHIN THE SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN REGION. THE DEPARTMENT IS NOW REVAMPING ITS DATA CENTER TO BETTER SUPPORT ITS SHARED SERVICES MODEL. "We are architecting our data center to allow for more of those sharing opportunities to exist." PHIL BERTOLINI Co Co Consolidation CC C Ss Shared red Service ic C C GCN AUGUST 2014 • GCN.COM 21