Texas data center lassos IT power

The Texas Information Resources Department plans to expand the activities of the State Data Center in San Angelo by adding more agencies to the outsourced services facility and increasing computing power.

Jimmy Jean, the data center's project manager, said the largest state agencies using the center are the Criminal Justice, Education, and Mental Health and Mental Retardation departments, the Office of Attorney General Child Support Division, and Workers Compensation and Alcohol and Beverage commissions. These agencies all run IBM MVS 390 mainframe applications.

In addition, 'we have a number of client-server applications for the Health and Human Services Commission and the Workforce Commission, as well as the parks and wildlife' agency, Jean said. Together with cities, boards, universities, hospitals and other agencies, more than 60 state entities use the center.

The data center belongs to the state and is operated by Northrop Grumman Corp.'s IT division. It began operations in January 1997.

The center has seven mainframes, as well as 115 servers running Microsoft Windows NT and Unix. Its mainframe processing power totals 2 billion instructions per second, and the center will expand to more than 3,000 MIPS by the end of this year, according to Northrop Grumman

Plenty of room

The center has 9.7T of storage for mainframe users, as well as 15.5T of storage for other users.

The center provides a help desk, disaster recovery, Web services, networking support, seat management and systems administration.

The center uses CA-Unicenter from Computer Associates International Inc. to monitor all systems and data backup software from Veritas Software Corp. of Mountain View, Calif.

The state's contract with Northrop Grumman is worth approximately $500 million, Jean said.

The purpose of the data center is to achieve economies of scale in buying computing resources, as well as increased service levels. 'It has probably been a 10 percent savings to the state,' Jean said.

Individual agencies that use the center pay for its services either at a flat rate or on the basis of computing resources consumed, via supplemental agreements.

'We continue to update the technology,' Jean said.

In about two years, his department will rebid the contract for the data center and seek a new pact either with Northrop Grumman or another vendor, Jean said.

Texas still has several agencies that maintain their own data centers.

State officials conduct reviews to evaluate the cost of maintaining those independent centers against the cost of consolidating the work in the state data center, Jean said.

The state's Legislative Budget Board makes the final decision as to which agencies switch their computing work to the center.

'The state has more than 200 agencies, but some of them are small and have no IT functions,' Jean said, speaking of the potential for expanding the operations at the center. 'The agencies to be added have not been decided specifically.'

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