Email OptimizationBy Bob Violino Print
Government agencies turn to virtualization, cloud services and other IT initiatives to run more cost-effective operations.
Another effort involves email optimization, which will consolidate email from more than 180 Lotus Notes servers distributed across 45 locations into a private cloud infrastructure across the agency’s four primary data centers. The foundation infrastructure for this setup is VMware clusters hosted on Dell servers with HP 3PAR storage, EMC Data Domain backup, Cisco switching and F5’s Big-IP load balancing.
“This initiative modernizes, standardizes and improves EPA’s email service,” Updike says, adding that it will also result in substantial reductions in servers, storage and energy consumption, while facilitating migration to external cloud services beginning in 2014. When completed, the consolidation effort will eliminate 150 physical servers, reduce storage by 50 percent and eliminate an estimated 350,000 kWh a year in energy usage.
The EPA has also launched enterprise continuity of operations (COOP) and disaster recovery (DR) initiatives, which provide remotely accessible data and applications to support continued operations and emergency response to EPA regions and field offices. The goal of these projects is to provide for COOP and DR using shared services hosted in the four primary data centers.
COOP and DR services are currently provided using site-specific solutions, Updike says. He notes that the initial provisioning of enterprise COOP and DR at the four primary data centers by 2013 is a key component of the agency’s data center optimization and server reduction strategies.
Turning to the Cloud
Meanwhile, other government entities have begun migrating to cloud-based services in an attempt to reduce costs and improve agility. Idaho National Laboratory (INL), a U.S. Department of Energy nuclear research and development facility, with help from IT-services provider Unisys, will soon begin transitioning thousands of users to the cloud-based Google Apps for Government messaging service.
“We want to be flexible, nimble and cost effective as we develop capabilities for lab employees,” says CIO Brent Stacey. “The lab’s goal is to invest in a capability rather than a technology. We don’t want to manage the infrastructure.”
INL’s move to a managed service is intended to support the organization’s future use of messaging and video conferencing and potentially create new ways to collaborate, Stacey says. The move is also intended to support redundant backup efforts.
But moving to the cloud doesn’t come without difficulties. “As we began this journey, we recognized the fact that there would be a number of challenges to overcome as we moved toward a cloud-based solution,” Stacey says. These include cultural change and the need to address security issues. INL has formed a cross-organizational team to address these challenges.
INL is also using social media tools—such as Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube—for recruiting, media communications and engaging the public. “The lab is looking at the future of messaging, which means adoption of a mobile environment that supports a flexible workforce, rather than a static infrastructure,” Stacey says.
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