One of the biggest stories of the last year in federal government IT news has been reducing data center footprint for both civilian and military agencies. While civilian agencies have done relatively well when scored against key metrics of the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI), the Department of Defense (DoD) has seemingly struggled.
Before anyone gets up in arms or levels criticism against the DoD’s underwhelming performance on DCOI goals, it’s worth taking a minute to consider the size and complexity of the DoD’s data center environment. Not only are they one of the largest generators of data in the world, but they also need to maintain central data center locations at the Pentagon, at bases in the United States and overseas, and finally in theater.
Although the DoD has made significant strides in consolidating and optimizing data centers on the home front, there is still more to be done, and that’s where some advice from the field might come in handy. While Larry Wright, consulting engineer at IronBrick, was supporting the United States Army in remote locations overseas, he was on the frontlines of IT in an unforgiving environment.
To support the mission the Army needed to stand up Technical Control Facilities (TCF) that function as data centers in the field. In Wright’s words: “These TCFs were intended to be short-term solutions to provide network communications for troops. Nonetheless, Army leadership ultimately recognized a steady creep in the cost to maintain these siloed facilities. The cost included power, HVAC, out-of-warranty equipment and more. Plus, service outages and end-user experience began to be an ugly normality.” Not surprisingly, as Wright goes on to share, the Colonel tasked his team with reducing the data center footprint and “provid[ing] a scalable solution to support the mission’s goals and ensure high availability.”
So, what do you do when you’re in the field and need to reduce a data center’s footprint?
Wright and the team turned to a converged infrastructure solution, specifically FlexPod from NetApp and Cisco, to meet the Army’s needs. They outfitted “small sites with the FlexPod Express design” and used “FlexPod Datacenter design at large sites.” In doing so not only did they reduce the physical footprint of the storage, compute, and network equipment, the overall size of facility needed, and the operating costs associated with cooling, but they expanded the storage capabilities beyond the required IOPS and created a robust, resilient, and secure environment to support the mission.
If this type of success can be achieved in a remote location, imagine what the deployment of a converged infrastructure could do back home.
Read more about Larry’s experiences supporting the United States Army overseas here.