The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) recently completed its 16-month data center consolidation process and is currently migrating other departments within the state’s Natural Resources Agency to a shared services platform.

The consolidation reduced the server carbon footprint by two-thirds and has already avoided $2.2 million in operating costs. The operating costs also reduced by 25 percent, according to an Aug. 1 post on the CA.gov tech blog.

The DWR, which furnishes water to 25 million California residents and 750,000 acres of farm land, moved to a 95 percent virtualized environment using HP BladeSystem technology. The consolidation reduced 600 physical servers located in various data centers to 160 servers, which are now housed in the Natural Resources Agency’s Tier 3 data center in Sacramento.

The data center was sanctioned by the California Technology Agency and is part of the state’s IT reorganization plan. Its servers support enterprisewide commercial applications as well as critical applications such as the control system that runs the state aqueduct that provides water throughout California. The DWR also utilizes the servers for scientific modeling, flood and dam safety projection, and monitoring earthquakes, said Tim Garza, CIO for the Natural Resources Agency.

He said the consolidation started in late 2009 because the DWR wanted to modernize its aging IT infrastructure for more flexibility and reliability while maintaining cost efficiency. Of the 600 servers, nearly 60 percent were more than 5 years old.

The consolidation complies with state environmental initiatives including AB 32, an act signed that was into law in September 2006 and sets California green house gas emission standards for the next 50 years.

Now that the servers have been consolidated, the DWR has reduced power consumption by 40 percent and improved cooling efficiency by 50 percent, Garza said.

“IT traditionally has been a large carbon footprint, so one of the things was: How could we reduce our power consumption, increase our cooling, and utilize blade technology and virtualization to do that?” Garza said.

During the modernization process of the DWR’s IT infrastructure, the department developed a service-oriented architecture to allow virtualization of its service points. Through this architecture, the DWR can now share infrastructure services and information, like critical geospatial mapping data, with other departments within the California Natural Resources Agency.

“From a business perspective, we have a number of business applications that various departments and various divisions can use such as Adobe and GIS applications,” Garza said. “So basically we have a shared network that then allows for the shared infrastructure to be commercialized.”

The DWR has already migrated more than 10 of the Natural Resources Agency’s 28 departments to the shared services platform. The DWR’s migration plan says all 28 departments should be moved to the shared services platform by June 2013.

“The [California] Department of Parks and Recreation is now part of our consolidation effort, and they are using some of the shared services provided by the Natural Resources Agency,” Garza said. “This allows them to continue to operate even though their budgets have been reduced.”

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.