Users Trade Up to New Data Centers

Move to bigger IT quarters to handle growing demands

At the Regional Justice Information Service in St. Louis, IT has moved up in the world or out of the basement, at least.

Over Memorial Day weekend, the government organization, known as REJIS, moved its systems and other IT equipment out of a 30-year-old data center that was located in the basement of its headquarters. The systems didnt go far: The new data center is next door to the old one, on the site of a former parking lot.

But the new facility has twice as much floor space and offers improved cooling capabilities, said Eric Gorham, the organizations director of IT. In the old building, we had 12-inch raised floors that were getting crowded and reducing our airflow, he said. The new data center has 24-inch floors, so we dont have to worry about hot spots anymore.

REJIS provides application development and other IT services to more than 200 government clients, most of which are county and local criminal justice agencies in the St. Louis area. Its annual revenue totals more than $15 million.

Gorham said REJIS officials had decided that a basement really isnt a good place for a data center. We are in an earthquake zone, and our old data center was below grade, not to mention being underneath a five-story building, he said. In addition, the old facility took on water at times, and it didnt have a loading dock, which made deliveries of new computer gear difficult, according to Gorham.

Eric Gorham

Eric Gorham, REJIS IT director The move to the new data center was scheduled for the start of Memorial Day weekend, to give IT staffers an extra day in case they had problems bringing everything back online. Work began at 2a.m. that Saturday and was completed in about five hours, although Gorham said that mission-critical data processing services were really only down for 118 minutes.

REJIS isnt the only organization in the St. Louis area that relocated its IT operations to new quarters this spring. Online trading company Scottrade Inc. recently completed a move of its own, to a new $25million IT facility located in a suburb of the city. Technology Overhaul

The new data center is the largest technology investment that Scottrade has made since it was founded in 1980, said CIO Ian Patterson. This wasnt as much a move as it was a revamping of the technology, he noted. We actually redesigned the entire network core and all the infrastructure on the trading floor. It was a green-field approach.

The 34,000-square-foot data center boasts a 10 Gigabit Ethernet backbone, compared with Gigabit Ethernet in the old facility, Patterson said. And the PowerEdge blade servers that support Scottrades trading floor have been upgraded to Dell Inc.s so-called ninth-generation models.

The data center also features fully redundant electrical and cooling systems. And like REJIS, Scottrade added a loading dock that includes a large storage area, plus an equipment burn-in room that is located directly between the dock and the data center.

Patterson said that the upgraded facility, which was needed to avoid trading system downtime and latency, should be able to handle Scottrades processing requirements for the next five years. He added that the old data center would have sufficed for only another two years before the company began running out of space and electrical power.

Seconds mean dollars to us, he said. When you look at whats happening in the stock market in terms of volumes, it was clear we needed to do something. When I started, a big day was 110,000 trades. Now its over 250,000.

Strom is a freelance writer as well as a podcaster, blogger and public speaker. He can be reached at

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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