Sidebar: Mott Promises an Open-Door Policy On Data Centers

CIO says HP will be 'very forthcoming' on the status of its consolidation move

PALM DESERT, Calif. -- After his keynote speech at the Premier 100 conference, Hewlett-Packard CIO Randall Mott spoke with Computerworld about his makeover plans for HP's IT operations. Mott's strategy includes consolidating HP's data center systems worldwide into three sets of paired facilities that will all be located in the U.S. Excerpts from the interview follow:

Randall Mott, CIO at Hewlett-Packard
Randall Mott, CIO at Hewlett-Packard

Image Credit: Asa Mathat


Where are you in terms of accomplishing your plan to consolidate HP's data centers into six facilities? We're in the process of identifying all the sites [for the new data centers]. We have some identified; we have options on real estate or buildings in the case of a number [of them]. By the end of March, we will have all six of them identified and announced.

Will they be geographically dispersed around the world? No. Where it's looking like right now is Houston, Austin and Atlanta.

You've talked about a "lights-out" data center. Are you talking about that in terms of these six data centers? Yes, I am.

Can you explain just what you mean by that? Literally, in order to run the data center, inside the data center, you only have personnel required for security, and not for IT operations. IT operations really end up being something that can happen anywhere in the world.

HP sees this as an opportunity to showcase its technology to potential customers. What kind of pressure does that put on you? It's certainly pressure to talk about things before they are finished. That's probably the biggest pressure. But on the other side, it actually will bring us a lot of support and help from the product and R&D communities [within HP] because they see it as being important.

The typical ratio of systems administrators to servers inside data centers has been described as 1-to-20, but HP officials have said 1-to-200 is possible. What kind of ratio will you be running in the new facilities? I don't want to comment on that, but I think we will exceed 1-to-200.

If you are making this into a customer showcase, how forthcoming will you be with users as the plan moves forward? Will you disclose lessons learned -- the things that went wrong, the things you could have done better? I think part of our responsibility as being part of Hewlett-Packard is to be very forthcoming on, "Here's what we started with, we decided there were problems with this, we changed course." There will be certainly lessons learned along the way, and I don't know what the right milestones will be. But my guess is it will be multiple times a year. Certainly, one of the things you do by making a public statement like you do in a forum as widely followed as this [conference, you're] going to have everyone asking, "Where are you at now?"

When do you see the data center consolidation being completed? Our goal right now is the end of [fisca\l] '08, which is literally Oct. 31, 2008. A lot of it will happen, quite frankly, next year. We will get some consolidation done at the end of this year. A lot of the heaviest lifting will happen in FY '07.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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