In the Commonwealth of Virginia, our data center represents the flagship of our $1.9 billion public-private partnership with Northrop Grumman.
This summer we opened the doors to the Commonwealth Enterprise Solutions Center (CESC), a data center that will house data and servers for more than 85 state agencies. This facility is located in Chesterfield County. We are also nearing completion on our backup center, the Southwest Enterprise Solutions Center (SWESC) in Russell County. With both of these sites opening in underdeveloped but rapidly growing areas, they represent a nearly $80 million investment in IT infrastructure modernization but also a strong effort to promote technology-based economic development.
As the first state agencies begin the move to the new facilities, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the steps Virginia took to effectively relocate a data center.
The new centers will offer an unparalleled infrastructure to support innovative applications to help increase productivity and improve constituent services. The CESC offers redundant equipment, multiple power and water sources, and strong perimeter security. It is rated a Tier III data center as defined by the Uptime Institute, a Santa Fe, N.M.-based organization focused on maximizing data center availability; Tier III data centers average only 1.6 hours of disruption per year.
The construction seems fairly simple relative to the operational task of shifting legacy IT systems without sacrificing service to public servants and constituents. Gone are the days where you could close shop on Friday afternoon, unplug everything and move it, then power it up on Monday morning. Citizens must have access to online services 24/7. It is also crucial that Virginia officials have constant access to the critical information needed to keep our citizens safe. Shutting down servers and making important information inaccessible for any length of time is not an option.
The Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) and Northrop Grumman worked with state agencies and others to develop a robust and detailed plan to help create a smooth transition. The most daunting task is coordinating with hundreds of agency mainframe and server customers to understand their business requirements, develop test plans, and implement the cutover. The goal is to mitigate risks for a coordinated, smooth transition and minimal disruption.
If we follow these principles, I’m confident that we will minimize downtime and successfully move into the next era of computing in Virginia.