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17 May 2023

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IDCA Works with the U.S. Department of State to Assess Data Centers

The US Department of State (DOS) had intermittent problems a data center had been built in 1986 by another government agency. A number of maintenance issues had not been adequately serviced at the Maryland facility, and regulatory compliance appeared to be out of date.

So the DOS ordered a temporary shutdown and brought in a team from the International Data Center Authority (IDCA) to conduct an audit and assessment of certification and compliance gaps as well as other technical flaws. IDCA developed a pair of options to remediate and renovate the facility to bring it into compliance and ensure the safety of its workers.

Evan C. Thomas, Jr., Acting Division Chief of the GTS team at the U.S. Department of State believes that IDCA’s study was game-changing for the department and states, “our data center audit proved invaluable in educating our senior-level management about the status of our site. We appreciate the hard work of the IDCA team in conducting the DOS audit.”

GTS management understands that its situation with the Maryland facility was not unique. Similar issues of safety and non-compliance occur in data centers throughout government agencies and business organizations. So the management team is now sharing its experience with other professionals in government and business, with the goal of forestalling serious problems in other data centers and optimizing their facilities and operations quickly.

Thomas endorses IDCA's involvement and is open to letting other data center professionals learn from the GTS experience. “We are willing to share what we learned with other government agencies during this process,” he says. “We'd like to prevent others from going through what we went through. We did not want any of our fellow employees to be put at risk. We're also aware that we are working with taxpayers' money and must deliver our services 100 percent of the time with complete reliability.”

Many Positive Aspects to the Project
IDCA's report and recommendations to GTS went beyond a description of problems and solutions. Team experts took a holistic approach, imbuing sustainability in every aspect of its analysis and recommendations, for example. The team identified several strengths in the facility and GTS management as well.

One positive aspect at the Maryland data center was the fact that the site also uses only 30% of available incoming power. Its generators also had strong, N+1 UPS redundancy, the site had sufficient underground fuel tanks, and there was more than sufficient N+N UPS configured inside the building. It had good lighting, sufficient fire-alarm panels, sufficient cooling capacity, compliant EMI and particulate environments, and floor-to-ceiling heights allowing for further expansion.

A complete analysis of the specific problems identified by GTS and IDCA is provided in a Case Study that's available to IDCA members.

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