Water, Water Everywhere; Nor Any Drop to Drink

October 29, 2012 - 2 Comments

7,929 miles (12,761 kilometers) separate Melbourne, Australia from Sacramento, California. Despite being half a world away from each other, these cities have a few  things in common – both are capital cities, both had a rich history during the gold rush, and both enjoy a riverside view.

These cities have something else in common: their data centers are the backbone for supplying clean water to their citizens. And each data center is owned, operated, and managed by the local government.

 “780 million people lack access to clean water  – that’s more than 2.5 times the population of the United States,” — Water.org

Governments in cities like Melbourne and Sacramento aren’t unique in their quest to provide clean water to residents but the way they use technology, specifically their data centers, to accomplish this is something other organizations can learn from. The data center isn’t just the backbone for clean water…it’s the cornerstone of any network.

Business Challenge

The challenges faced by Melbourne Water and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) are common to many organizations.

Melbourne Water was moving to a new headquarter location. The agency had an opportunity to consolidate 4 geographically dispersed offices and increase overall sustainability but the new headquarter building was so energy efficient the agency couldn’t run a typical data center environment.

They had 6 months to prepare the move to the new building, including a full migration to a new, energy-efficient data center – a typical data center migration for any organization can take 12-24 months. Downtime was not an option so the agency had to eliminate disruption of its mission-critical services and applications and ensure a smooth transition for all employees.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) faced a different kind of challenge.  Department personnel need to access and manipulate large data sets to model the effects of the environment on the water system. This requires close collaboration with other federal, state, and local government organizations, subject matter experts, and the people of California.

Their data center didn’t support the sharing of information outside the department which made it difficult to collaborate across many different organizations and make timely decisions.  Further, the data center wasn’t cost-effective, or adaptable to future business needs or regulatory requirements.

The Results

Melbourne Water’s new data center was designed and deployed within 6 months. It is designed to consume up to 40 percent less energy and provide Melbourne Water with up to AUD $250,000 in annual savings. This new energy-efficient data center also eliminates approximately 600 tons of CO2 per year and helps the building achieve its prestigious six-star sustainability design.

The migration plan – designed by Cisco Services — also gave Melbourne Water better visibility into its assets, allowing them to conduct better investment and risk planning. The plan also delivered a simplified, stable, data center blueprint designed specifically to meet the needs of Melbourne Water.

 Read the Case Study

The DWR is equally pleased with their results.  Partnering with Cisco Services, the DWR designed and implemented a data center that expanded their collaboration capabilities. They are now able to share information securely with other departments, state, and local government organizations, and anyone else required in a decision making process.

Tim Garza, Chief Information Officer, California Natural Resources Agency and Department of Water Resources said, “We now have the best collaboration capabilities in our department’s history, and we’ve simultaneously reduced total cost of ownership.”

In combination, the engagement with Cisco Services and the new data center network architecture decreased total cost of ownership by 30 percent, including:

  • 40 percent fewer switches because of the high port density in the Cisco Nexus 7000 Switch
  • 42 percent lower cooling costs
  • 45 percent lower power consumption
  • 20 percent less management overhead

Overall, the department projects 20- to 30-percent savings from operational cost avoidance over three to four years, for maintenance, support, and energy bills.

Read the Case Study


Find out how other organizations like these have maximized their data centers to achieve business objectives.

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  1. r these data centers contributing anything to global warming and bring in water ? – like sandu super storms.

    • Protecting our planet is important and it’s an important responsibility to be conscious of the impact of technology on the environment. I am not an expert on the environmental impact of data centers, but I did find this page that explains Cisco’s involvement with environmental sustainability: http://csr.cisco.com/pages/environment. Thank you for your interest.