Private cloud expected to lift New Mexico's IT efficiency

State will offer infrastructure-as-a-service to reduce IT and electricity expenses

The State of New Mexico is looking to dramatically reduce information technology expenses and electricity costs when its Department of Information Technology launches a private cloud computing platform later this year.

NM DoIT will let agencies within the state move applications to virtual servers via an infrastructure-as-a-service cloud environment, said Michael Martinez, director of enterprise operations with NM DoIT

The infrastructure-as-a service model will help the state dramatically reduce IT expenses and electricity costs because agencies will not have to buy their own IT hardware, Martinez said.

The move to the private cloud is part of a $6 million project the state launched three years ago to upgrade an aging, 35 year-old data center.

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The data center had reached capacity and additional servers couldn’t be added. Plus, cooling capacity had maxed out. Data center managers could barely keep the data center cool, Martinez said.

With the upgrade, state officials wanted to consolidate all of the homegrown data centers – wiring closets or server rooms – that had cooling and power units within agencies in the northern part of the state, Martinez said. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has issued an order for agencies to migrate to the state data center in Santa Fe when it makes sense, he noted.

The state has made a tremendous amount of progress with the data center upgrade, putting more cooling capacity on line – about 1,200 tons – and fixing power distribution, Martinez said.

The NM DoIT team has been working with agencies across the state to physically bring their equipment into the state’s data center, he said. However, IT officials want to virtualize as much of these servers as possible. Over the long term they don’t want to bring aging equipment into the data center.

“We have a large number of servers already in the data center. So the first item was to consolidate our own,” Martinez said.

For example, the old e-mail system -- Microsoft Exchange 2003 -- currently resides in seven racks. Those racks are completely filled from floor to ceiling with either servers or storage. Those seven racks – which are in a single site, there’s no redundancy – will be consolidated down to a single chassis with a new storage unit added to it.

The organization will move from seven racks to 1.25 racks, which will save on floor space. Plus, there will be a major drop in power consumption because the old e-mail boxes – approximately 50 servers – costs $43,000 a year in electricity to run. “We’re estimating that the new boxes will cost about $6,000 a year with the new chassis,” he said.

The IT team plans to move to Microsoft Exchange 2010 by the end of the year.

The cornerstone of the infrastructure is Cisco’s Unified Computing System. UCS integrates compute, network, storage access, and virtualization resources in a single energy efficient system geared to reduce IT infrastructure costs and complexity. VMware is the virtualization software of choice.

NM DoIT officials choose Cisco UCS for its total power capacity, the number of blades and processors it can accommodate and system memory. This gives the IT team the flexibility needed to handle a large number of virtual servers on the platform.

Currently, NM DoIT officials are developing services to run on the IaaS platform internally. Then the department will offer full IaaS services to agencies by the end of December.

NM DoIT is in the process of purchasing equipment for a back-up data center. Communication links to that data center will be operational by the end of December. The backup data center is slated for full production by March 2011.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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