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Issue 3, April 2009

were hogging all the electricity. The local electricity supplier told the council it was exceeding its limit. Upping the supply would mean digging up the high street and doubtless putting several local shops out of business. By using VMWare, Bearpark and his team rationalised 40 servers onto three of Dell’s DL 585s, which helped the council reach its emissions targets.

Further rationalisation was achieved by discontinuing its business continuity contract with SunGard and duplicating data itself within a temperature-controlled premises located in the borough – the local crematorium. “They’re [the crematorium] very good at temperature management,” joked Bearpark.

At the height of its power consumption, the council data center got through 30kW hours. Now it’s down to 1.5kW hours – that’s a phenomenal reduction.

But some boroughs take the opposite approach. In Lancashire, for example, Preston Council kept its contract with SunGard and took things further by asking the disaster recovery firm to run its data center operations as a shared service. SunGard has 20 recovery locations across the UK, all linked by the SunGard National Network (SNN).

As a member of the North West e-Government Group (NWeGG), the council was able to get good value for money from the arrangement, reports Allan Orient, ICT business continuity and community manager at Preston City Council. “Price was obviously an enormous consideration for us in our decision making,” he says, “and that comes from buying as part of a consortium.”

Buying groups (such as the consortium to which Preston belongs) and shared data centers bring about considerable price economies, explains Rob Thomson, SunGard’s marketing director, but sometimes the incentive is more of a financing issue.

Shared services become more of an operational expenditure (OPEX) rather than a capital expenditure (CAPEX), making the new project less likely to fall foul of budget approvals processes. Using a third party with experience of running colocation contracts can make the approval process a lot easier, since they’ll have been there before and learned to overcome all the objections.

“Many government organisations are looking at OPEX rather than CAPEX, so they’re increasingly likely to come to us,”



60 billion: the number of kilowatt hours of energy Data centers consume. Or about 1.5 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption (source: The EPA - The Environmental Protection Agency)

$7.4 billion will be the IT industry’s collective power bill by 2011. If data center power consumption continues with no additional efficiency gains the bill will nearly double from current rates.

$30 billion invested in America’s data centre infrastructure in 2009 would create around 949,000 U.S. jobs (source: “The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America,” a report by ITIF (The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation)

430 billion dollars should be spent on creating a Smart Grid (says ITIF) to cut emissions by 5 per cent (which is the equivalent of taking 53 million cars off the road).

46 and 117 billion dollars could be saved over the next 20 years by creating a Smart grid which makes more efficient use of power in government data centres. (Source: United States Department of Energy)

$700 billion to $1.0 trillion: “Team Obama” proposed tax breaks and spending initiatives in the next two years.

3 million: the target number of new jobs created by 2011.

“Britain is slowly evolving into a more efficient model. ‘We’re

revolutionary rather than evolutionary’ is a popular boast among Britain’s IT leaders. But the problem with evolution is that generations have to die before you can make any progress”

says Thomson. Given that the nature of the applications given over to a colocation contract, such as accounting, are not interactive in nature and unlikely to be troubled by latency, physical distance from the council is not a problem when choosing a host for colocation.

The big challenge, he says, is in finding a local authority that has the right fit and is at an identical stage of evolution to collocate with. “Sometimes it’s like trying to get all the horses lined up at the start of the Grand National,” says Thomson.

“There could be scope for someone to develop a match-making service for government departments that are looking to colocate. I’m sure there’s a gap in the market,” he says.

The OPEX versus CAPEX was central to the decision-making process of Edinburgh Council’s decision to bring all the local government departments, including bodies as disparate as the fire brigade, government

departments and local authorities, under one data center, managed by BT.

“In Edinburgh, at one stage, all the different public sector bodies had their own data center,” explains Andrew Unsworth, head of e-Government at Edinburgh Council. “The fire brigade had one data center, then there were 20 different schools with various incarnations of a data center, not to mention the libraries and local hospitals.”

Now, under BT’s management, they’re all housed centrally, in one floor of the old telephone exchange. As telephone technology evolved, the old mechanical switches were replaced by more automated systems, and finally software. So there was a lot more room to spare. This created an ideal environment for hosting other people’s systems.

As part of the 10-year partnership between these two bodies, the service provider is contracted to refresh 10,000 desktop machines, all standardised now on one operating system – Windows XP.

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