data center (Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com)

2019 Government Innovation Awards

Dependable diplomacy

Diplomacy relies on dependable communications, and today, that means email. So when the State Department suffered numerous email outages, it got the attention of agency leaders and prompted an overhaul of five mission-critical applications to improve their availability and resiliency.

Department of State High Availability Disaster Recovery

Department of State

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Working with Dell Technologies, State’s Information Resource Management Systems and Integration Office moved aging IT systems to a converged system that spans a three-site high-availability disaster recovery (HADR) architecture.

State officials abandoned a legacy data center that housed equipment and software from several vendors at various life cycle stages in favor of a platform engineered for stability. The HADR technology provided automated failover for applications during upgrades, maintenance, and unplanned hardware and network failures. As a result, users could work with no interruptions to their ability to access important information.

After the technology worked successfully on the department’s unclassified network, it was deployed to the classified network.

By building a converged architecture system, State officials eliminated life cycle maintenance processes such as interoperability testing and system validation. The original five applications have grown to eight applications that take advantage of full HADR services while a multitude of other routine applications are also hosted in that environment.

The program has saved the State Department over $10 million in infrastructure costs and supported users through two data center moves with zero application and system downtime. When several power and network outages hit the department’s East Coast data centers, there was no impact on the mission.

The technology has also formed the baseline for the department’s on-premises data center infrastructure as it moves to a hybrid cloud environment.

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