Pa. outsources data center

With the official launch of its Data Powerhouse June 7, Pennsylvania became

the first state to consolidate and then outsource its agency data centers.

The Data Powerhouse, located in Harrisburg, replaces 17 data centers

that serviced 14 agencies. It is expected to save more than $110 million

during the next five years, and it frees about 180 desperately needed information

technology workers, who have been retrained and moved to other positions.

Unisys Corp. is the manager of the project.

"It also provides serious updates of hardware and software to those

smaller agencies who just wouldn't have been able to afford it on their

own," said Curt Haines, director of the state's Bureau of Consolidated Computer

Services. "The more we are able to standardize on [hardware and software]

in the future, costs will drop even more."

The Data Powerhouse was used to consolidate mainframe data centers first.

Now, agencies that have run server-based operations want to get into the

act, Haines said. A big incentive is that the data center provides around-the-clock

operations, something that agencies are considering as they take e-government

applications online. Where they previously would have had to put on another

two shifts of IT workers, he said, agencies can now simply write a check

for the outsourced service.

Also, the Data Powerhouse for the first time provides many agencies

with hardened, full-site data recovery. It uses robotics for tape handling.

The technology part of the seven-year, $527 million project was "a snap,"

Haines said, noting that administrative and budget problems have provided

the major headaches. Six federal agencies are putting funds into the new

consolidated center, and that requires six budget and reporting streams.

Consolidated it may be, he said, but it still can't be run as one monolithic

entity.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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