The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

January 9, 2013

City considers server virtualization

— Last month the Athens City Council acknowledged the city finished with a $1.4 million surplus for the 2012-13 fiscal year and amended the city budget to add $500,000 in capital expenditures.

Dale Haymon, director of the Information Technology department, was among seven department heads to present itemized spending requests during the City Council special meeting Monday evening.

Haymon gave an in-depth PowerPoint presentation about the IT department’s proposal to switch from using its current server system to server virtualization, which would reduce the amount of hardware the department would need for its servers from 13 boxes to three.

“Servers are basically a computer that performs a certain task,” said Haymon during his presentation. “Compared to a personal computer, they use a completely different operation system, faster processors and multiple power supplies and hard drives.

“Server virtualization is the process of running multiple instances of server operating systems on a single physical server.”

Haymon said his department would need to replace several servers this year, in addition to adding another server to handle new software.

He said server virtualization provides lower energy consumption, less equipment, better crash protection while making it easier to update the system and implement new software. If new software is added to the current server system, a new server box also has to be purchased.

“Six servers need replaced in 2013 and a new server added for the IT Help Desk software,” Haymon said. “These seven servers will cost approximately $77,000.”

Haymon said it would cost approximately $143,000 to replace the current 13 servers compared to $94,000 for the cost of virtualizing the server.

“We’ve been adding about one (server) every year since I’ve been here,” he said. “We can pay $143,000 over the next five years to replace all the servers at a cost of $7,000 to $15,000 per server, or we can pay $94,000 to virtualize our existing servers and have capacity to run an additional 10 to 15 servers without added server hardware.”

He pointed out that Limestone County, Tuscaloosa, Decatur and Madison have transitioned to server virtualization.

“This is the way the IT world is going … and it makes financial sense to do this right now,” Haymon said.

Marks said the city is trying to cut costs by using long-term planning to address annual expenses, instead of “kicking the can down the road.”

“We’re trying to look at the long-range planning, instead of being reactive,” Marks said.

The seven departments submitted 30 items totaling nearly $2.2 million, including items categorized as either small equipment and vehicles or large equipment and vehicles.

The council did not take action on the spending requests but might vote on them at the Jan. 14 regular meeting.

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