Actually the revolution has already begun. In London the north-east councils have formed the North East London Partnership (NELP) to look at how they can share IT facilities going forward. And the west London councils have followed suit with the West London Alliance (WLA) which is attracting interest from at least one council outside the M25.
Another county council in the South-East is considering building capacity into a new, consolidated data centre that would be offered to local councils in their area. And public sector verticals like NHS trusts and universities are opening dialogue with their neighbours.
What is important to understand is that the UK public sector is facing a one-off opportunity to act. The sudden surge in power densities over the past few years, fed largely by the relentless growth in Web and other 24/7 IT services, has resulted in a common need worldwide to upgrade and professionalise computer environments. But with each solitary data centre being built today in the public sector, this opportunity to share overheads is lost for another 12 – 20 years. Maybe for good.
Perhaps the problem is that initiatives like NELP and the WLA are being sparked at ground level. What’s really needed is a joined-up approach to data centre environments across the public sector. This will only happen when someone at the highest level wakes up to the fact that, like it or not, the new generation of data centre environments being created today are now a core part of the government’s IT strategy.
The days of fan-trays, carpet tiles and ‘getting away with it’ are over for the public sector. Hot aisle - cold aisle configurations matter. So too does professionalism in the way we maintain, monitor and run our nation’s data centres. Get any element wrong and they will increasingly fail and so too will the vital services that the public sector provides to the public.