When IT pros at the state and local levels want to win data center investments, it’s critical to show how the improvements will result in returns on investment.
- Excellence Held Back by Aging Technology
- Show Me the Money
- Less Downtime & Maintenance
- Prioritizing Security
Excellence Held Back by Aging Technology
Delta Diablo is a water resource recovery agency that serves 200,000 people in Northern California – residents of Antioch, Pittsburg, and Bay Point. Services it performs include wastewater treatment; production and distribution of recycled water; safeguarding against pollution; recovery of energy; biosolid reuse; street sweeping; and collection of residential hazardous waste. Its plant can process up to 19.5 million gallons of water per day.
Delta Diablo isn’t just any wastewater agency, though. It’s actually among the top 1 percent nationwide at what it does, according to the numerous Platinum Peak Performance Awards it’s received from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.
The wastewater treatment operation often teams with outside public and private entities on projects. However, its data center has historically been standing in the way of such efforts.
“Our IT department is never 100 percent sure what’s coming down the pike in the next year,” explains the agency’s IT director, Chris Hanna. “We could sign a contract with an energy company for research and development, and we have to be ready for that.”
Delta Diablo’s hardware was simply getting old: the servers and storage appliances were 5 years old, while the switches and routers were 10 years old.
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Show Me the Money
Hanna didn’t want to upgrade Delta Diablo’s system piecemeal but all at once. To make his argument, he showed how it would be positive for the organization financially despite the cost upfront.
It may be difficult for these data centers to raise funds for maintenance and upgrading. Apart from upgrades, regular maintenance such as electrical part repairs, roof damage restoration (perhaps with the help of a firm that provides commercial roofing brisbane), and server maintenance may be necessary to operate the data center for many years to come. Thus, leadership, in this case, may have to recognize why a data center should be maintained.
Hanna’s proposal focused on three primary benefits of the refresh:
- Time to market for IT services would be improved.
- Reliability and business continuity would be boosted, doing away with downtime costs.
- Electricity expenses would be slashed by an incredible 80%.
Hanna is fully convinced himself that upgrading the hardware was a wise move for Delta Diablo. “The fact that we’ve built out this infrastructure allows us to get services to market faster,” he says. “When initiatives must be done quickly, we don’t have to worry about beefing up our infrastructure.”
Furthermore, the government can build small power plants and massive data centers, which will help reduce their reliance on the power grid. When it comes to fuel, this power generation setup can use hydrogen since it is generally pollution-free, and therefore considered green. Hydrogen power plants equipped with a high-end gas turbine, electrolyzer, and industrial hydrogen compressor can effectively manage the electricity requirements of these data centers.
IDC datacenter analyst Kelly Quinn agrees that investments in data centers often have strong ROI because you can reduce your energy and cooling costs while improving your availability.
It’s fairly straightforward to look at power savings, she says, but it can be more complicated to assign specific dollar amounts to other elements. You want to establish, as closely as possible, the expenses to the agency if mission-critical systems fail and how much more work can be achieved if latency is reduced.
You want to be able to say, explicitly, that you could avoid spending a certain dollar figure over the next five years if you make the refresh. A finance head will be more convinced to the extent you can turn soft, qualitative points into hard, quantitative data.
Less Downtime & Maintenance
A few years ago, Matthew Arvay was hired as the CIO of Virginia Beach, Virginia. At that time, there were four storage systems being used. Downtime occurred regularly. Maintenance costs were also increased slightly.
“We needed to reduce the complexity of the environment,” Arvay explains, noting that benefits of upgrading included “modernizing our data center, enhancing lifecycle management, enabling self-service provisioning and improving reliability, scalability and uptime.”
The refresh, which is currently underway, will slash the data center’s racks from 29 to 4, in turn saving the city tens of thousands on power costs. In addition to that, maintaining the building can be crucial for the operation of the data center. Keeping the data center in pristine condition and consuming less power will be possible with the assistance of a dependable commercial roof contractor, electrical company, and telecom service provider.
Total savings are expected to be $675,185 per year. Plus, Virginia Beach won’t have to pay for a $1.2 million upgrade to its legacy storage hardware. Arvay estimates that the new system should pay itself off in less than four years, and the ROI after five years will be 25.2%.
Texas Department of Information Resources data center chief Sally Ward believes it’s a good idea to upgrade one-fifth of your infrastructure annually, so that no pieces are ever more than five years old. While refreshes are costly, Ward says a strong argument is that they prevent security breaches. While non-IT leaders may not immediately agree with the expense, they certainly will if you get attacked and you suffer a painful data loss.
Ward says that she thinks agencies that don’t make regular data center refreshes are like people who don’t maintain their houses. According to her, if people take care of the minor leakages in the beginning before the roof starts leaking more, by contacting a roofing expert (like the ones at Alpine Roofing– one of the most reputed Denver Roofing Companies), they probably can afford the repair services at a more affordable price; but they often do not opt for it. Hence, over time, they get to a place where they can’t afford the repairs as the issues transform from minor to major ones.
Therefore, it can be understood that Ward stresses regular data refreshes. It appears that this plays quite a crucial part. However, it is needless to say that many people do not understand the importance of it, which is why they often fall prey to costly endeavors.