NOAA-NIST Collaboration on IT Infrastructure in Boulder, Colorado

NOAA recently established an IT equipment co-location agreement with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to host their SpectraLogic T950 Disaster Recovery System within the ESRL/Global Systems Division (GSD) Data Center at the David Skaggs Research Center in Boulder, Colorado. The GSD Data Center had available space and power, already hosted equipment belonging to other federal entities, and the team there, led by GSD Deputy Director Bobby Kelley and GSD Information and Technology Services Chief Scott Nahman, have experience with interagency agreements to help enable this type of collaboration. The GSD Data Center is equipped with UPS, fire suppression, and 24x7 operations staff. The SpectraLogic shares its new location with scientific computing clusters, other NOAA computing servers, data storage systems, and file backup systems.

NIST's Office of Information Systems Management (OISM) computing facility in Boulder houses much of the networking, security, computing, and data storage infrastructure needed to support NIST operations in Boulder. Among the equipment located in the facility was the tape library that stores the backups for NIST's central file servers, as well as data from numerous other OISM servers. Since the tape library was in the same location as the clients that use it for backups, a disaster affecting that room would also likely affect the ability of the OISM to recover data from the backups. As a result of this risk, the OISM began searching for other Boulder locations to house the tape library. That's where GSD came in.

Fortunately, as part of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), Joseph Klimavicz, CIO of NOAA, and Del Brockett, CIO of NIST, had recently visited each other's data centers in Boulder. The DOC site in Boulder is unique in that NIST and NOAA are co-located on the same campus. Out of the joint data center tour, the potential to move the OISM tape library across campus to the NOAA building naturally emerged.

While the interagency agreement was being prepared, technical staff from GSD, NIST, and the Boulder Network Operations Center began developing the system and network plans required to enable NIST clients to communicate with a relocated tape library. Additional fiber connections between the buildings were already scheduled for installation. Solutions for the subnets, additional hardware, subsequent network setup/testing, and security requirements were developed and implemented. After preparations for moving and the actual transporting to its new location across the Boulder campus, the engineers from SpectraLogic supporting NIST Boulder recalibrated the library and updated the system firmware. Within 24 hours, data were being backed up as usual.

This move enhanced NIST's business continuity posture and is the type of collaboration and interagency agreement that leads different government entities like NOAA and NIST down the Data Center Consolidation path toward successful interagency teamwork. From NOAA CIO Joseph Klimavicz, "This is fantastic. Thank you very much for completing this work. I will highlight this in my weekly report, and send it to the DOC CIO. Thanks again."

Contact information
Name: Scott Nahman
Tel: 303-497-5349