Data center consolidation tops state CIOs to-do lists

State chief information officers agree that consolidating
enterprise data centers is their most important task for the coming
year, according to a study released today by the National
Association of State CIOs (NASCIO).

The NASCIO study relied on responses from 29 states. The
association reported a strong trend toward “states
consolidating their computing assets into raised-floor, secured,
centralized data center facilities,” according to the

“Many states are utilizing remote, backup data center
facilities for the purpose of backup and disaster recovery and
business continuity,” the association said.

State governments define “enterprise data center”
differently, the NASCIO study found. But the varying definitions
did not cloud the universal nature of the consolidation trend, the
association said.

The NASCIO report described the status of the survey
group’s consolidation programs:

  • Completed: 14 percent, or four out of 29

  • In progress or partially complete: 38 percent, or 11 of

  • Planning phase: 24 percent, or seven of 29

  • Proposed: 17 percent, or five of 29

  • No activity: 7 percent, or two of 29.

State IT organizations seek to consolidate their data facilities to
improve their service delivery, reinforce their ability to protect
systems and the data they contain, facilitate the reengineering of
business processes, eliminate redundant capacity, reduce costs, and
streamline IT functions, according to NASCIO.

States responding to the survey reported that they had between
one and 100 data centers, and that the median number of centers was
15. The survey authors cautioned that variations in how the states
defined data centers caused part of the wide variation in the
center counts.

A high percentage of the states responding to the survey, 86.2
percent, said they planned to launch server virtualization projects
as new technology associated with their enterprise data center
consolidation projects.

The respondents also favored open source technology for use in
48.3 percent of their data center consolidation efforts, NASCIO

State agencies also named storage area networks, consolidated
storage purchases, service oriented architecture, virtual servers
provisioning and application hosting as other new technologies they
planned to deploy in the consolidation projects.

NASCIO asked state IT leaders what obstacles or challenges they
faced as a result of their data center consolidation projects. The
most common responses were:

  • Workforce resistance to change: 89.7 percent

  • Agencies’ desire to remain autonomous: 86 percent

  • Problems experienced in moving localized devices away from
    current customer base: 48.3 percent

  • Backlash when consolidation didn't meet specific business
    needs: 20.7 percent

  • Unexpectedly high costs: 17.2 percent

  • Seeking exemptions from state statutory and regulatory
    requirements: 17.2 percent

  • Seeking exemptions from federal statutory and regulatory
    requirements: 17.2 percent and

  • Failure to identify and adhere to service levels: 3.4

As for the motives driving the states’ push to consolidate
their data centers, the most important reason respondents cited was
to improve disaster recovery, a factor named in 82.8 percent of
cases. The goals of improving data replication, redundancy and
fault tolerance were cited second, in 75.9 percent of cases, while
cost savings motives came in third at 65.5 percent of responses.


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