Big Data Center Migration Saves California Cash

Data center migration saving cash-strapped California $100,000 per month, according to technology officials.

by / January 25, 2010

Photo: P.K. Agarwal, director of the California Office of Technology Services

Although California has budget problems, the state has been saving money in at least one area -- a recent data center migration that's also more secure.

At a recent technology board meeting, P.K. Agarwal, the director of the Office of Technology Services reported that the department has been saving $100,000 a month since moving part of a major data center away from the state capital city of Sacramento to another location in Vacaville, Calif., roughly 35 miles away.

"These kinds of moves take enormous planning because we're not buying new equipment; we're not buying new networks. So in order to keep cost down to a bare minimum, what we're actually doing is planning carefully to make sure all the network moves, and then all of the equipment, and then we're doing it in a timeframe so that we're not disrupting any services to citizens," said state CIO Teri Takai on Monday.

The current facility is located in an old brick cannery building at the intersection of two busy streets near Sacramento's downtown area.

"It was never really constructed to be a data center, and so there are a number of security issues with it -- in that it sits on the intersection of two main roads. It has a railroad behind it," Takai said. The building has undergone renovations over the years to accommodate technology modifications. "With the latest generation of computers, it's really not possible for us to continue to renovate an old facility."

The data center supports equipment for numerous state departments, including Public Health, Social Services, Health Care Services, Mental Health and the Employment Development Department. The systems and the information they handle must be operational and secure at all times.

"These kinds of data center moves require state personnel to work seven days a week and 24 hours a day," Takai said. She's proud of staff members' hard work during the migration. "Thanks for their efforts, we've not had one hour of downtime that we can attribute to the move."

The Vacaville location is owned by the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF), a nonprofit that provides workers compensation insurance to employers. The facility will have different security systems and two backup generators to ensure uninterrupted power if there's a local blackout. It will also have energy-efficient cooling systems in raised-floor server rooms and solar panels that will generate about 2.5 percent of it electricity usage.

California signed the lease with SCIF last summer, but the state had been considering options for the migration for years. Takai expects all the technology to be relocated by the end of May -- although some personnel will relocate afterward.


Hilton Collins

Hilton Collins is a former staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines.

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