Minnesota’s Data Centers: Our Current State
Assessing the What Do We Know?
The State’s data centers are “extremely complex, difficult to maintain,
An independent 2008 at high risk of failures and increasing in cost beyond the norm.”
assessment uncovered myriad (2008 third-party assessment by Excipio Consulting)
weaknesses in executive branch
data centers: There are too many locations, based on the number of servers,
applications and requirements.
Inappropriate space: Most - 36+ data center locations
facilities were not designed to
- 70+ locations, counting computer and machine room locations
serve as data centers (converted
- These can be consolidated into approximately 4 sites
office space) and are therefore
unsafe, inadequate, and ill- The current data center square footage (69,000 sq. ft.) is 3X larger than
equipped for expansion. required (20,000) for the size of the technology environment.
Inconsistent investments, lack of A majority of data center locations were built to outdated guidelines from
standards: Existing data centers standards 40-years old.
are diverse in their adherence to best According to the 2008 report’s risk assessment, the State of
practices and their investments in Minnesota’s combined facilities’ risks are elevated, and are likely to see 3-5
equipment and maintenance. significant failures over the next three years.
Under-investment over time has
jeopardized safety, security and
Inadequate security: Because
Our vision is to create a safe and secure environment for the information
physical and technical security in technology that runs the primary business of state government, and to
state facilities does not meet improve the overall technology performance of our vital systems.
standards, there is a high risk of
both cyber and physical breaches The plan to modernize and secure the State’s data center environment must
that could compromise state data meet a number of enterprise objectives. The solution must not only find
locations for 3300 servers that meet agency business goals, the strategy
Dangerous conditions: Multiple Maintain service levels
risks include unsafe environments, Reduce costs and aggregate savings
risk of fire and water damage,
Reduce risk, increase security, and aggregate risk management
inadequate cooling and power
systems that add up to a high risk of Increase the agility of ongoing systems management
service interruption and potential Leverage existing investments
damage to costly physical equipment.
Minnesota’s Data Centers: The Plan
Levels of Service The Minnesota Data Center Co-location Plan
At all data center facilities in this The Scope: Condensing 38 state data centers into four co-location facilities.
plan, state agencies have several The scope does not include the consolidation of systems and servers within the
service types and options. data centers.
Step 1: Move most highly critical executive branch business operations to
Facilities Management a secure, Tier III third-party co-location facility
Facilities management includes all
tasks related to keeping the facility Step 2: Upgrade three state data centers to Tier II
itself up and running. This includes
space management, heating, Step 3: Transfer all other, less-critical business operations to the three
cooling, power, etc. state co-location data centers
For the Tier III, third-party facility,
Step 4: Decommission all other data center space
facilities management will be the
responsibility of the third-party
contractor. The Facilities
Because this type of consolidation The tiered destination strategy that was developed by the enterprise will help
requires one entity to facilitate the
the State combine 38 data centers into approximately four sites that leverage
use of common data center space,
facilities management for state Tier the strengths of each.
II data centers will be a utility service
provided by the Office of Enterprise
Business Priority Footprint Solution
Priority 1 15% of infrastructure Third-party facility
Equipment and Application
For the management of equipment Priority 2 25% of infrastructure Third-party facility
and applications within any of the
data centers, agencies may choose
between two service types: Priority 3 & 4 60% of infrastructure State facilities
Co-location: the agency leases
space in the data center but
manages and is responsible for all Tier III, Third Party Facility
its own equipment and systems Our highest priority business systems are the State’s most critical assets and
within the facility.
require a relatively higher data center resiliency. The plan calls for the
Managed services: OET will offer a executive branch to identify and move the highest priority systems to a third-
full stack of data center party facility and service.
management services for those
agencies that desire full equipment Tier II, State Facilities
hosting and/or application
By leveraging and upgrading three available state locations to full Tier II, we
can provide a suitable data center solution for less-critical systems that reduces
move and decommissioning costs.
Minnesota’s Data Centers: Common Questions
Governance we expect modest long-term savings in ongoing
Who has decided on this strategy, and is everyone
What is the timeframe for these changes?
Moves to a third party data center can occur relatively
Consolidation of data centers has long been an
quickly, as the systems for this facility have already
enterprise priority whose strategy has been developing
been identified. Timetables will be published when they
over the past several years. Goals and deliverables are
outined in the 2009 Minnesota iGov plan.
The move to state data centers will be timed to occur in
The tactical plans outlined in these pages are a result of
relation to the centers’ upgrades. The steering team will
efforts by the Data Center Steering Team and have
develop an upgrade plan and timetable.
been vetted by the Program Review Team, both cross-
agency enterprise IT governing bodies that advise the
What is a data center?
Through this governance, the agencies have
Approved the overall strategy A data center is a facility used to house computer
systems and associated components, such as
Prioritized systems for tiered locations
telecommunications and storage systems. It generally
Determined that facilities management should be a
includes redundant or backup power supplies,
redundant data communications connections,
environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, fire
How were the priorities defined and set?
suppression) and security devices.
Using a common priority definition, each agency was
What is the difference between Tier II and Tier III?
asked to set the priorities for its systems and
applications. Tier II Data Center: Tier II facilities are slightly less
susceptible to disruptions from both planned and
Priority 1: Has a recovery time objective of 24 hours or
unplanned activity than a basic data center. They have
less and impacts the public’s safety.
a raised floor, UPS, and engine generators, but
Priority 2: Has a recovery time objective between 24 maintenance of the critical power path and other parts
hours or up to 5 days and impacts the public’s safety, of the site infrastructure will require a processing
health or trust. shutdown.
Priority 3: Has a recovery time objective of 6 to 30 days Tier III Data Center: Tier III has the ability to
and impacts key business delivery. accommodate any planned work activity without
Priority 4: Has a recovery time objective of 30 or more disruption to computer room processing. Planned
days and any business delivery. activities include preventive and programmable
maintenance, repair and replacement of components,
The steering team reviewed and combined the priorities addition or removal of capacity components, testing of
to reach a tiered strategy that divides the systems into components and systems, and more. For large sites
the appropriate facility. using chilled water, this means two independent sets of
pipes to simultaneously carry the load on one path while
How much will these changes reduce costs and performing maintenance or testing on the other path.
risks? Unplanned activities such as errors in operation or
This strategy moves the State to an acceptable (by spontaneous failures of facility infrastructure
industry standards) level of risk without significantly components will still cause a data center disruption.
increasing the cost of data center management. In fact,
What are best practices? What is the difference between co-location and
Tier IV is the highest tier data center available and is
used by highly sensitive private sector and military
Co-location means that various entities share physical
organizations. State data centers are primarily Tiers II
space on a service provider's premises to house
network, server and storage gear.
Why a third-party Tier III facility – couldn’t we have a
Consolidation optimizes the technologies inside a data
state Tier III?
center to achieve cost savings, improve performance,
The in-depth study of our current data centers and mitigate risk.
concluded that no state facilities are close enough to
Tier III to be easily, quickly and affordably upgraded to The scope of this project is co-location only, although
meet the standard. The best option, given the need to some agencies may look for opportunities to consolidate
move quickly, is to lease space in a Tier III facility. It is and virtualize in the new environment.
important to note that this decision is about space
availability and not about State capabilities. Who will be affected by these changes?
Some agencies have dedicated data center staff, but
Will the third-party facility be located in the many do not – their IT staff perform a variety of other
Twin Cities? duties in addition to data management.
It is too early to know if there will be competitive facility Facilties management staff: OET will manage the three
proposals from vendors outside the Twin Cities. shared state facilities as a utility service.
Where are the state facilities located? Equipment management staff: Agencies that choose the
Good security practice requires that we do not publish co-location option for equipment and applications
the location of the state-owned facilities. This is one hosting will continue to manage their systems within the
additional layer of security that helps keep our systems shared data centers. OET will provide equipment
safe from malicious physical and cyber attack. hosting to agencies that select managed services.
Is the expectation that there will be fewer IT jobs
because of these changes?
Data Center Management The primary intent of this strategy is to increase the
efficiency and security of our physical space, improve
What is co-location and how does it work? the operations of our core systems and applications and
Co-location means that agencies locate their data mitigate potential risks. It is possible that, with all
center servers, network, and storage equipment executive branch agencies utilizing the utility facilities
alongside that of other agencies in a facility where a management service, there may also be a net loss in
portion of the facility’s building, power, and network directly related IT staff. However, it is also possible that
bandwidth is provided. the consolidation of facilities management may result in
an increase in career opportunities at the enterprise
The customer may opt to co-locate only, and manage level.
and monitor their own equipment or purchase additional
equipment hosting and management services from
Making the Changes
Data Center Steering Team
Who will be managing the changes?
Data Center Steering Team: continued planning and Johanna Berg, Human Services
oversight throughout the project. Bob Diver, Office of Enterprise Technology
Kathy Hofstedt, Transportation
OET: Program management, facilities planning, facilities
Steve Kraatz, Revenue
maintenance, and DC management service
Henry May, Employment and Economic
Department of Administration: Physical space David Morris, Public Safety
changes, moving planning and logistics. Larry Palmer, Agriculture
John Paulson, Health
Will all of the systems in an existing data center Sara Schlauderaff, Office of Enterprise
move to one place, at one time? Technology
If an agency manages a system that has been deemed Bev Schuft, MnSCU
critical, it will move into the third-party space early in the Ed Valencia, Office of Enterprise Technology
process, while others will move to state facilities at a
later date. The Department of Administration will be
coordinating the physical data center upgrades and the
individual space and equipment moves. For more information, contact Ed Valencia, Program
Executive Sponsor: email@example.com, 651-556-
Where are we in the project and when will we have a
The Data Center Co-location Plan is in the early
planning stages. The following milestones will be
achieved Summer 2010:
Tiering of systems and their facility assignments
Funding strategy for state facility upgrades
Definition of co-location service
Upgrade and de-commission plans for state