CASE STUDY. CyrusOne Helps City of Houston to Go Green and Reduce Energy Consumption through Data Center Consolidation

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1 CASE STUDY CyrusOne Helps City of Houston to Go Green and Reduce Energy Consumption through Data Center Consolidation

2 Abstract To handle the administrative needs of America s fourth-largest city, the City of Houston government employs approximately 21,000 people in 22 departments. As part of its city s green initiatives to reduce energy consumption, City of Houston IT Services is decommissioning six of its nine privately-owned data center facilities, located in office buildings throughout the Houston metropolitan area. Houston IT Services is also consolidating seven separate IT footprints into two footprints, to be housed in offsite colocation facilities. The consolidated footprints will host IT services and applications for the majority of City of Houston departments. This consolidation enables City of Houston to significantly reduce the amount of energy it uses to operate its IT infrastructure, in terms of both servers and environmentals (i.e. power and cooling), and subsequently to reduce its overall carbon footprint. City of Houston is able to reclaim office space that was formerly used to house servers, and return it to city departments for their use. Also, the city government is able to take taxpayer money that would have been used for investment in new IT servers, power and cooling infrastructure, and reallocate it for other civic needs. The City of Houston s primary IT footprint will be housed at CyrusOne s Houston West data center. This facility offers a 100% uptime Service Level Agreement (SLA) with 2N redundancy of power and cooling. Houston West is located outside the flood plain of downtown Houston, in a secure, reinforced concrete structure designed to withstand hurricanes and other natural disasters. By co-locating its infrastructure at the Houston West facility, the City of Houston is able to take advantage of CyrusOne s data center management expertise for better, more efficient use of energy in operating their network, Internet, and server environments. 2

3 The Company With a population of over 2.2 million residents, Houston, Texas is the fourth-largest city in the United States. To handle the city s administrative needs, the City of Houston government employs approximately 21,000 people in 22 departments, with offices in over 500 buildings throughout the Houston metropolitan area of 640 square miles. In addition to our elected officials, says Charles Thompson, head of City of Houston IT Services, the Houston city government includes public safety and legal departments, civic planning and housing, and internal services departments. My own organization, Houston IT Services, provides innovative service delivery to our customer s customers; simply stated, we provide IT services to those departments that serve the public directly. The Challenge Like many cities across America, Houston is going green. The City of Houston has launched initiatives to reduce energy consumption in local government operations, with the goals of reducing the city s carbon footprint, and also of making better use of taxpayer money through more effective management of energy and resources. The city government previously had nine separate IT footprints, located in data rooms or data closets in office buildings throughout Houston. Each IT footprint took up a large amount of space, and required a great deal of energy to operate the servers and their IT environments. Also, the facilities required a large number of maintenance hours by City of Houston employees. Each IT footprint served different city departments, and many IT services and applications were unnecessarily duplicated across different footprints. We needed to consolidate our separate footprints, to reclaim office space and to reduce the amount of energy required to operate our IT infrastructure, says Thompson. We needed to store our core infrastructure resources in a facility where they would be safe from hurricanes and other disasters, with fully redundant power and cooling. Finally, we needed high-speed connectivity to connect our city offices throughout Houston to the consolidated IT footprint, with top-level security to keep our servers safe from unauthorized access. 3

4 The Solution The City of Houston government has consolidated six of its nine office-based IT footprints into two Class 3+ (TIA-942) footprints, which are housed in offsite co-location facilities. The primary IT footprint, located at CyrusOne s Houston West data center, hosts the city government s Enterprise Resource Planning system (financials, payroll, HR processes, etc.), its core system, and other mission-critical applications and services used by the majority of city departments throughout Houston. A secondary IT footprint, located in downtown, hosts redundant instances of critical applications and provides backup for the CyrusOne footprint. Also, two city departments with highly-specialized IT needs still have their own separate footprints. By closing six of our IT data rooms, and shutting down outdated equipment that was 10 to 15 years old, we ve achieved a 25% reduction in the use of power and cooling for IT environmentals, says Thompson. The real savings in energy consumption comes from not having to operate those IT facilities in our own city buildings. It s our goal to reach a 10% reduction in carbon emissions due to this consolidation. CyrusOne s Houston West facility has a low Power Utilization Equivalent (PUE). Our consolidated IT footprint uses less power and cooling in CyrusOne s facility, because their data center equipment is newer, and their technicians are trained to manage the environmentals in a more energy-efficient way. Benefits Reallocation of Space and Resources We needed to consolidate our separate footprints, to reclaim office space and to reduce the amount of energy required to operate our IT infrastructure. Charles Thompson, head of City of Houston IT Services There s never enough office space in a municipal government, says Thompson. But by consolidating our IT footprint and shutting down six data rooms, we re able to return that space to city departments for their own use. For example, after we moved our servers out of the Municipal Courts building, the Presiding Judge was able to put in an additional jury room, so she could schedule more trials per day. The Houston Public Library s main building will be able to reclaim space formerly used to house servers, and turn it into an after-school study area for teens. 4

5 CASE STUDY CyrusOne Helps City of Houston to Go Green Our city IT professionals no longer have to spend time and effort doing maintenance on six data rooms and their environments. Our IT technicians are good, but they re not data center management experts. By hosting our primary footprint with CyrusOne, we can take advantage of their core expertise in data center management, since their technicians can manage our IT environmentals more effectively than we can. Meanwhile, we can reassign our own IT professionals to handle other IT jobs for the city government. Also, now that we have a consolidated footprint at CyrusOne, our city departments are using the same applications hosted on the same servers, so we re able to operate our IT services more effectively. Cost Planning and Cost Avoidance With CyrusOne, we can predict our annual operating costs for IT infrastructure over the next 5 to 10 years, says Thompson. Our annual power and cooling costs are much lower, and not just because of our IT consolidation. Our power rate with CyrusOne is a negotiated cost-per-kilowatt-hour. Here in the city, our rate for the same usage would be based on a cost-per-square-foot, and we believe our power costs would be much higher. By colocating our IT footprint in CyrusOne s facility, we avoid spending close to $2.4 million in capital expenditures to buy new power and cooling infrastructure, plus annual maintenance costs, for each of our six former data rooms. We can take that money and reallocate it to other city management needs. A Location to Withstand Disasters Before I took this job, says Thompson, Houston had two major hurricanes within an eight-year period. During the last hurricane, two of our downtown data rooms were flooded, and the majority of our IT services failed, because we didn t have the backup services to keep them going. We knew we needed to house our critical infrastructure in a stronger, more durable facility. CyrusOne s Houston West facility is located north and west of downtown, in a reinforced concrete structure that s built to withstand 150 MPH winds. It s outside the zone where significant flooding normally occurs. We were impressed with the sturdiness of Houston West, and its ability to withstand virtually any category-level hurricane. CyrusOne (866) cyrusone.com 5

6 Fully-Redundant Power and Cooling CyrusOne has given us an SLA with 100% uptime of power and cooling, says Thompson. In the Houston West facility, they have dual power feeds, redundant UPS s, and gas-powered backup generators. Our IT footprint is housed in a colocation hall that is set up for 2N power and cooling redundancy. If we need to expand our footprint, CyrusOne can give us additional space and power in another 2N hall. Robust Statewide Connectivity CyrusOne gives us a 1 GBPS circuit with 100% uptime for Internet access, says Thompson. They multiplex across different carriers, so if one goes down, they can switch our traffic over to other providers. Also, we re using CyrusOne s Internet Exchange (IX) to connect our Houston West IT footprint with our downtown footprint. We re currently rolling out Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) for our telecommunications circuits, which will terminate at the location. If we ever needed to evacuate downtown Houston due to a hurricane, we could use CyrusOne s statewide fiber ring to extend our Internet services to emergency offices elsewhere in Texas. High-level Physical Security CyrusOne s Houston West facility uses classic physical security protocols, says Thompson. To enter the data center, you have to sign in at the parking lot entrance, present a government ID or access badge at the check-in area, and pass through the man trap. If we need new servers delivered, we have to call ahead and pre-schedule the delivery. CyrusOne s security people will meet our staff at the loading dock so there are no unauthorized deliveries. City of Houston s footprint is housed inside a steel cage, and only authorized personnel with access badges can enter it. Part of our IT footprint is sectioned off from the rest by floor-to-ceiling walls, to meet Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) requirements. This area has a different badge reader, and only CJIS-certified City of Houston employees are allowed to enter it. We re grateful to CyrusOne for building out this separate section of our suite, as this type of action displays an emphasis on meeting customer requirements. To learn how CyrusOne can help you achieve your goals, visit or call today. 6

7 About CyrusOne With over two dozen data centers across the globe, CyrusOne helps many of the world s largest global businesses including 9 of the global Fortune 20 companies and over 140 of the Fortune 1000 and companies of all sizes take advantage of the latest data center technology and realize top operational efficiencies through: Flexible, Scalable Solutions Receive flexible data center solutions that readily scale to match the needs of your growing business. Proven, Innovative Technology Benefit from the latest data center innovations CyrusOne expert technicians can put to work for your IT environment. Exceptional Service Enjoy personalized, consultative service through all stages of the relationship - design, build, installation, management, and reporting. CyrusOne National IX Offers low-cost metro connectivity and city-to-city transport in an ever growing number of cities across the US. About the Author Scott Brueggeman oversees the management of CyrusOne s global marketing, product development, inside sales, and corporate communications including branding, demand creation, and public relations. His 20 years of marketing and sales experience includes Fortune 50 firms, as well as smaller high-growth companies. Prior to CyrusOne, he spent several years with running marketing at a data center hosting and managed services company, as well as Chief Marketing Officer at an international financial services firm. Prior to that he was VP Marketing for CareerBuilder, and also held leadership positions at AT&T and PepsiCo. Brueggeman serves on several advisory boards. 7

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