Optimized data center consolidation offers benefits to every level of government

Data center consolidation is growing increasingly common among federal agencies, and for good reason. The Federal Communications Commission, for example, is currently in the process of consolidating its data centers, and it is taking advantage of this opportunity to modernize many of its IT systems, Fierce Government IT reported. Such upgrades offer significant potential benefits, on top of the substantial cost and performance advantages that data center consolidation offers directly.

As State Tech Magazine recently highlighted, these benefits are not limited to the federal government. Indeed, both state and local governments stand to see tremendous gains if they are able and willing to fully embrace data center consolidation efforts. Critically, these projects can enable governments to make major strides in regard to cloud integration, data analytics, mobility and more.

"Data center consolidation has already saved Oklahoma $77 million."

Immediate benefits
In many cases, state and local government initially approached data center consolidation as a means of saving money, the source reported. For example, in the wake of the economic recession, Oklahoma set into motion a plan to pursue massive consolidation across the board. This process is only 55 percent complete, but it has already saved the state $77 million. At the same time, consolidation has improved the Oklahoma government's cybersecurity, disaster recovery and IT services performance, according to Dustin Crossfield, director of technology services for the Information Services Division of the state's Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

The source pointed out that a recent NASCIO report found that more than half of all state governments completed data center consolidation projects of some kind last year, while 40 percent currently have consolidation efforts in progress.

Improving IT
Beyond the cost savings that such efforts have to offer, State Tech Magazine reported that data center consolidation allows governments to address evolving constituent IT needs and wants.

"States and counties see budgets and IT staff shrinking on the one hand, and rampant demand for new services and an expanded mission on the other," said Greg Herbold, director of U.S. sales programs for state and local government and education at HP Enterprise Group, the source noted. "Data center consolidation is commonly the on-ramp to mobility, cloud, security and big data."

Crossfield emphasized that such has been the experience of Oklahoma's government.

"These efforts have allowed us to offer agencies and their users services and capabilities they could never afford or put together themselves," said Crossfield, according to State Tech Magazine. "Their uptime and disaster recovery is far superior to what it was before. Security has improved vastly, thanks to a centralized security operations center that monitors and protects all traffic coming in and out of consolidated agency systems."

Pushing for consolidation
With all of these potential benefits, the argument in favor of using data center consolidation as on opportunity for broader gains is clear. However, as Jason Dies, general manager for the public sector at IBM Global Technology Services, explained to the source, this can be a difficult goal for state and local governments to accomplish. 

"Private companies can take a top-down approach to consolidation," Dies told the source. "State and local governments are more voluntary environments where buy-in is absolutely essential."

"Communication is critical for data center consolidation efforts."

Naturally, that makes communication critical for data center consolidation efforts in these organizations. However, it is also important to note that state and local governments often feature more complex infrastructures than private-sector firms. This makes the process of data center consolidation more challenging.

The stakes are high in these cases. Government agencies need to continue to deliver constituent services while migrating data to cloud-based environments or on-premise data centers, all while ensuring the information in motion remains fully protected at all times. Failure in any of these capacities will not only undermine the potential benefits that data center consolidation can and should deliver, but can also cause serious problems for constituents.

To avoid such problematic outcomes, decision-makers at the state and local levels who are eager to embrace data center consolidation need to consider partnering with an IT consulting firm that has significant experience in precisely this area. More specifically, leaders should look for a partner that can implement a hybrid approach to consolidation and integration, taking into account the complexity and security issues that always accompany any such deployment.