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GCN : August 2014
DATA CENTER CHEMISTRY 22 GCN AUGUST 2014 • GCN.COM ences of earlier implementations. Reference architectures are generally sponsored by a group of vendors who provide the server, storage and network- ing ingredients, which are tested and vali- dated to work together. Since the compo- nents are not as tightly coupled as with a converged infrastructure product, there is a greater opportunity to mix and match different hardware combinations. In the case of Oakland County, the reference architecture approach helps it preserve some aspects of its data center architecture, while replacing others. "We have a significant investment already in the data center," said CIO Bertolini. "We chose to take advantage of our current in- vestment and build around it." Bertolini described the county's data center as heavily virtualized. "At one time, it was packed to the walls with equipment, and now we can hold a small event in there with the space we have," he said. With the first take on consolidation and virtualization in the books, the county sought to revamp its data center hard- ware. The county's IT department evalu- ated converged infrastructure as an op- tion, but found it to present capacity and cost issues. Since converged solutions ship pre- configured with a certain amount of re- sources such as storage, Bertolini said he was concerned about investing upfront in capacity that the county may not need to consume for three or four years. In addi- tion, vendors described a three-year re- placement cycle for their data center-in- a-box solutions. Bertolini said he believes some of the individual infrastructure components could have a longer than three-year lifes- pan. "It is an expensive undertaking," Bertolini said of the converged infrastruc- ture approach, noting that costs were al- most twice the price tag of the reference architecture approach. Chris Timms, manager of technical sys- tems and networking for Oakland County, said the reference architecture isn't a data center in a box, but rather a configuration that other enterprises have successfully used. The approach is also modular, al- lowing organizations to mix and match components. This attribute came in handy for the county and its technology refreshment situation. Timms said the data center's SAN and networking equipment have reached end of life, but the county will keep its Dell servers. The county is also evaluating bids for a storage and networking solution that will work with its Dell investment. Among other things, it is looking for disk- based backup and a 10G backbone for im- proved performance between servers and on backups. A converged solution would have re- placed storage, networking and servers, but Timms noted that the county wasn't looking to discard its computing power. The county's plan will help it avoid the pitfall of throwing the technology baby out with the bathwater. However, Oakland County's data cen- ter renovation plan shares a couple of things in common with converged infra- structure: the desire to procure compo- nents all at once rather than separately and the ability to call just one number for assistance. Timms said the county didn't want to write separate request for proposals for the storage and networking components. Instead, it has pursued a unified RFP, an approach Timms said boils down to: "We want all this stuff to work together." Most vendors responding to the RFP of- fered to provide a technical account man- ager to handle support or a single phone line for tech help. "A lot of vendors are moving to that, even if you are not buying a data center in a box," Timms said. Sudhir Verma, chief technology officer at Force 3, a federal solutions provider based in Crofton, Md., said a converged infrastructure or reference architecture could be the appropriate selection de- pending on an organization's circum- stances. In some cases, a reference architecture might make the most sense depending on such variables as scalability and the types of applications the IT department seeks to run. A converged infrastructure would suit virtualized environments, remote offices or smaller-scale virtual desktop infrastructure components, Verma added. CLOUD BACKUP IN ASHEVILLE With their data centers under renovation, government agencies meanwhile are us- ing the cloud to extend their still-evolving data centers, particularly in the areas of disaster recovery and business continuity. The city of Ashville, N.C., for example, leverages Amazon Web Services for disas- ter recovery. The city uses software from CloudVelox Inc., a Santa Clara, Calif.- based company, to replicate data to the AWS cloud. CloudVelox provides an auto- mated cloud migration disaster recovery platform. According to Asheville CIO Feldman, the city's budget is such that a disaster recovery plan only exists for applications it absolutely needs to protect -- enterprise resource planning (ERP), for example. The protection afforded that applica- tion, however, exists only two blocks away from the city's main data center. "I have been trying to jockey the funds to THE CITY OF ASHVILLE, N.C. LEVERAGES AMAZON WEB SERVICES FOR DISASTER RECOVERY. THE CITY USES SOFTWARE FROM CLOUDVELOX INC., A SANTA CLARA, CALIF.- BASED COMPANY, TO REPLICATE DATA TO THE AWS CLOUD. CLOUDVELOX PROVIDES AN AUTOMATED CLOUD MIGRATION DISASTER RECOVERY PLATFORM. "I have been trying to jockey the funds to get our disaster recovery center farther away." JONATHAN FELDMAN Ra Ra Reference hitectur ture Re Arc Re ch Cll l Cloud