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County government makes business case to update PA-RISC servers

Bernalillo County recently refreshed and consolidated its PA-RISC Unix servers. An IT project manager explains how he sold the IT project on the basis of its business value.

Last week, AFCOM keynote speaker Andrew Parham told attendees that data center managers need to connect their IT and facilities projects with business value. Well, that's exactly what Bernalillo County in New Mexico did with a recent server refresh and consolidation. We spoke to Mike Gruen, the IT project manager for the county, about how he pitched the project to his CIO, and why it worked.

What was the IT project, and why was it needed?
Mike Gruen: What initiated the project in the first place was that we had a bunch of servers that were at end-of-life. We did a performance analysis of the existing environment and they were running at 10% or less utilization. We needed to do something to migrate those services to newer platforms.

We were running 17 (HP) PA-RISC machines and we migrated to 12 Itanium machines today. We're running multiple HP-UX instances on top of HP Integrity virtual machines.

How did you pitch this IT project to your superiors?
M.G.: I pitched it to the CIO that we had to do something. These servers were not utilized efficiently, and if we did a forklift upgrade, we could get more performance. We focused a lot on maintenance costs and server utilization. I showed that traditionally [utilization] had been very minimal. I showed that with server virtualization, we could get it up to 40% server utilization rather than less than 10%.

Data center managers often say they have to dig through layers of management to reach the CIO level. But you pitched directly to your CIO. How?
M.G.: Well, we're in a county government. We have a county manager, and he reports to the county commission, which is a bunch of elected officials. Under him are department-level and C-level executives. I work directly for the CIO of Bernalillo County, Paul Roybal.

Did you ever appear before county commissioners to make your pitch?
M.G.: I have never talked to the county commissioners. I did talk to some of the directors whose applications were affected by this. They were more than happy to support the effort once we talked about why we were doing what we were doing.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer . Also, check out our blogs: Data Center Facilities Pro, Mainframe Propeller Head, and Server Farming.

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