image alt tag

Social Security Administration struggling with data centers

By Donna Donowitz
February 24, 2011

In 2009, nearly $500 million in stimulus money was set aside in order to build a new data center for the Social Security Administration; however, due to troubles and delays, the center will not be built or operational until at least 2016.

While this center still remains in the development stage, the SSA has continued plans to extend its current data center. This center, the administration’s central data location for 30 years, has supported the delivery of nearly $700 billion annually to roughly 56 million Americans.

For the new data center, the General Services Administration chose a spot in Frederick County, Maryland, to develop the new National Support Center building. The agency’s current National Computer Center is located in Woodlawn, Maryland. The process of selecting, and establishing, the location in Frederick County was initially expected to be completed in 2010. However, government auditors expressed concern, believing those involved with the process had not considered the high cost of electric power involved with the spot. Thus, the location process has still not been completed, putting the entire project a year behind schedule.

In the interim, the SSA has built and completed a data center in North Carolina, referred to as the Second Support Center, which currently supports the administration’s aging Woodlawn location. Before the SSC, the agency used a commercial data center for backup.

“In the event of an NCC failure, we can currently recover all critical workloads at the SSC within four days,” Kelly Croft, the deputy commissioner for systems at the SSA, stated in a recent Congressional testimony. “Next year, we anticipate being able to reduce that recovery time to one day.”

Croft also expressed the agency’s “dire need” for a new data center.

“Without a long-term replacement, the NCC will deteriorate to the point that a major failure to the building systems could jeopardize our ability to handle our increasing workloads without interruption,” Croft said. “Despite all of our best efforts to preserve the NCC for as long as necessary, there is always the potential that a critical facility infrastructure system could suddenly fail.”

Croft pointed to several risks the current Woodlawn center presents, such as lack of dedicated power, an aging custom UPS system, cabling problems and the presence of water in the center.

While the agency plans to revitalize its current data center, other government officials are against the idea entirely.

“Relying on short-term fixes to serious problems at an old data center is just too much of a risk for our nation,” said Jeff Denham, chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee. “That is why it is particularly troubling that the timeline for completion of the new data center has already slipped by a year.

In addition to the SSA, the President Barack Obama recently outlined the federal budget proposal, which will look to reduce the government’s number of data centers and switch to cloud computing.


Have a Question? Chat with a live Product Specialist!

Have a Question?

We can provide more information about our products or arrange for a price quotation.

email-icon Send an Email
contactus-icon Send an Email callus-icon Call Us

Send us an Email