Local and state governments have a few disadvantages regarding technology compared to the federal government: money and resources. The number of data centers the U.S. federal government operates has rapidly increased and become a burden. As a result, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative was started and has been seeking to lower these figures and make government data centers more efficient. CIO.gov found many of the 7,000 federal data centers were using using only 27 percent computing power, despite the extra costs associated with operating a data center.
However, local and state government have much more flexibility when it comes to operating data centers because they are not operating enormous amounts of centers. Smaller governments instead can turn to hosting providers and cloud services to meet their needs.
As the economy continues to make strides, smaller governments are increasing budgets to upgrade their data centers, Deltek research analyst Randi Powell told Slate Tech. These moves will help modernize data centers for an ever increasing digital world and provide more benefits to local governments, particularly in two areas:
Several counties scattered across the U.S. house data centers in buildings that are far too old. Multnomah County, Oregon, used to house equipment in a 50-year-old grocery store. Despite the building’s air conditioning and power supply running at full power, the data center would still suffer outages, county officials told Slate Tech.
In fact, data centers consumed 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2013, and that figure is expected to reach 140 billion KWH in 2020, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Much of the energy an individual data center consumes can be placed into two categories: power needed to run the equipment, and the power needed to maintain the equipment. Data centers have to be kept at certain temperature and humidity levels in order to function properly. Often, the energy required to maintain exceeds the energy required to run. The trend is worrisome because NRDC’s study said small and medium data centers are responsible for the vast majority of data center energy consumption.
Newer, energy-efficient data centers can reduce those high energy consumption levels while lowering costs for governments. Of course, meeting U.S. LEED certification levels also helps the surrounding environment. After Multnomah County constructed a new data center, the county lowered KWH consumption and saved $32,000 per year due to better energy efficiency.
Virtualization of data centers
Local governments may want to explore virtualization services and turn to third-party companies to help with the virtualization of data centers. Virtualization is the method of creating a virtual version of something – in this instance, a virtual data center. The virtualization of data centers has has many benefits: lower costs, including lower energy consumption, increased IT productivity, enhanced responsiveness and lower physical space demands. Governments embracing this route can rely on large sets of data and services always being available, even in times of emergency. Further, virtualization can help governments further embrace secure cloud computing.
U.S. IT research firm Gartner recommends data centers become agile and responsive to deal with new technological innovations and trends. Upgrading or embracing data center virtualization services and energy efficiency can help local governments become more productive to better serve citizens.