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Washington State Begins Move Into New Data Center and Office Complex

The $255 million data center and office complex has taken heat for being too spacious, but officials say they may be able to lease out the extra room.

Washington has begun moving state agency employees into its new 1,000-person office complex, which was built in conjunction with the state’s new data center. The data center, while not yet operational, is expected to be running within the next eight months.

The buildings, located adjacent to each other in Olympia, were made available for migration on July 15, and had been under construction since August 2009. The $255 million project, a price tag that includes the 50,000-square-foot data center and additional space, was criticized by some lawmakers and budget watchdogs earlier this year after a report by Excipio Consulting suggested that the state would only need 4,000 feet of the data center’s total floor space.

Mike Ricchio, Washington state’s information services director, said the state is currently building out the data center’s core network, including routers, switches, cabling and communications.

While the state has purchased some equipment for the data center, it hasn’t yet acquired servers nor has a virtual environment been created. Ricchio said the state hopes the data center will be operational by March or April of next year and estimated to have the migration completed by September 2012.

“It’s not like [it goes] A, B, C, D,” Ricchio said. “You’ll have pieces moving over that are already consolidated within the existing data center environment, and when they move over they’re operational because they need to be.”

In the early phase of the data center migration, components of the state’s existing data center will run in parallel with the new data center’s components for the purpose of redundancy and testing.

Once the state has completed the full migration into the new data center, extra space will remain unutilized — at least for now.

Ricchio said the Office of Financial Management is working to contract with a vendor to market the data center’s undeveloped data halls to potential tenants. Through a business plan that was drafted for the Office of Financial Management by Excipio as a result of a legislative requirement, the two data halls are expected to start generating revenue in 2013.

The state plans to use the 25,000 total square feet in Data Halls 1 and 2. But as the state virtualizes its servers, it’s expected to cut in half the space it utilizes in Hall 2, said Joanne Todd, a spokeswoman for the Department of Information Services.

“There are about 37 data centers located around Thurston County that are going to be pushed and consolidated into this too,” Todd said. “So all together, there’s 65,000 square feet of raised floor space that’s going to be consolidated into this data center. So with that in mind, they’re working on virtualizing servers.” 

Next to the data center, the state is already in the process of moving agencies into the office complex. The Department of Information Services started moving 425 staff from seven different locations into the complex on July 16 and will continue to move staff every weekend through Aug. 13.

The Department of Personnel completed moving its 145-member staff from three locations on July 23. At the Department of General Administration, 224 employees will move to the complex on the weekends of Aug. 13, Aug. 27 and Sept. 10. And the Office of Financial Management will move 180 staff members from three locations, aiming to do so Sept. 24 and 27.

Todd said a total of 974 people will migrate from 14 locations into the new office complex and all transitions should be completed before October.

In addition to Washington’s migration to the office complex, effective Oct. 1, the Department of General Administration, Department of Personnel, State Printer and Department of Information Services will be folded into one of two new agencies: the Department of Enterprise Services or Consolidated Technology Services, according to the governor’s office.

At that same time, Ricchio will be become the director of Consolidated Technology Services.