New York City getting data centers under one roof

First-phase consolidation for 14 agencies expected by year's end

New York City is working with IBM to migrate more than a dozen city agencies into a consolidated and modern data center environment, in an effort to provide a unified shared set of services to a broad range of city entities, according to NYC officials.

The consolidation is part of New York’s Citywide IT Infrastructure Services, or CITIServ, program, an initiative announced last March to modernize and optimize the city’s IT infrastructure environment by consolidating disparate data centers and streamline the City’s IT infrastructure.

The city has more than 50 agency data centers, some large and sophisticated and others small server closets. The $7.7 million contract with IBM is to migrate the first phase -- 14 agencies -- into a consolidated and modern data center environment by the end of the year, said Nicholas Sbordone, director of external affairs with the New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications.

Some of the agencies included in this first phase are the Finance and Sanitation departments and the City’s Chief Medical Examiner, he said.

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“When agencies are migrated into the CITIServ environment, they'll be able to focus increased attention on their core missions of serving the public, while their IT infrastructure is managed and supported 24/7 by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications,” Sbordone said.

The proposed IT infrastructure consolidation is expected to save the city up to $100 million over five years, improving the technology capabilities for city workers, according to city officials.

The initial applications and services that will be migrated to DOITT’s data center include help desk, hosting, storage, e-mail, virtualization and network services. Eventually, those services might be offered in a cloud-based environment, Sbordone noted.

Cloud computing provides users with on-demand network access to a shared pool of computing resources such as networks, servers, storage, applications and services. These resources can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

Most organizations doing data center consolidation are indeed considering the role of cloud computing -- private, hybrid and public -- in taking on some of the storage and processing loads, said David Linthicum, chief technology officer of Blue Mountain Labs, an IT consulting firm.

“However, the path to cloud computing from a traditional data center environment is not at all easy to map considering the number of moving parts and dependencies within most enterprises and government agencies, he said, adding that a lot of planning is involved.

Consolidating data centers while keeping operations running is a non-trivial task, said David Cohn, a director and research scientist within IBM’s Research Division.

The process, though, is similar to setting up disaster recovery site wherein systems are swapped from one location to another. Typically this involves running parallel applications and cutting over to the new location when the migration task is completed.

“It is a bit of a ballet, but the processes are well established,” Cohn said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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