A Data Center Relocation Nightmare and a Formula for Success

Posted by Mark Teter, Chief Technology Officer
November 15, 2012

CIO did a story several years ago that highlighted Oregon’s data center relocation and consolidation disaster. As the story went…

In 2004 the State of Oregon launched an initiative to consolidate the data centers of 12 state agencies and their approximately 1,700 servers into a single, new, Tier 3 facility. Oregon wanted to reduce the number of servers and operating systems it supported (thereby lowering hardware, licensing, and management costs), offer new and better service level agreements, improve the state's disaster recovery capability, allow for growth and technological advances, and ensure better data security.

The state's new site was completed in January, 2006 at a cost of $20 million. A year later, 11 agencies were migrated to the new facility, at a cost of $43 million. At $25,000 per relocated server or about $4 million per agency, the move's cost was astounding—and it gets worse.

In July, 2008, the state issued a report concluding that in fact only 70 out of the 1,700 servers had been eliminated, and new service level agreements had not been provided. Data security was so poor that the Department of Education could not move into the new facility due to its failure to meet federal privacy regulations, and another agency had to move back into its old center because the new center's power supply was inadequate. As for the projected cost savings, who knew?

Although this data center relocation and consolidation was wrought with good intentions, it didn’t have to end like this. In fact, we’ve seen many data center relocations go off without a hitch. The story itself identifies the key reasons for the failure – namely poor planning and underestimating needs –but the ultimate problem here was a lack of experience.

This is just one example of a data center relocation gone bad, but many happen in the private sector and result in terrible loss of business. Here at ASG, we spent countless hours developing the Structured Data Collection Methodology, our proprietary and professional approach to data center relocations.

The core foundation of our approach lies in the following four phases:

1. Discovery and Data Collection
2. Analysis and Design
3. Planning and Risk Management
4. Smooth Implementation

The thorough discovery, planning, and analysis phases account for contingencies and potential problems. Our approach also isolates and compartmentalizes data sets, minimizes known variables, and arranges potential back-out points. These steps reduce risk and downtime—so you can keep your business running smoothly.

If you’ve ever moved a data center, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below. How was the process? What would you have done differently? What went right?

About Mark Teter Before he retired from ASG in 2013, Mark Teter was Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and the author of 'Paradigm Shift: Seven Keys of Highly successful Linux and Open Source Adoptions.' As CTO, Mark regularly advised IT organizations, vendors, and government agencies, and he frequently conducted seminars and training programs.

Filed Under: Data Center

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