The end of the school year is the perfect time to study the needs and strategies to support government and education IT. There are close to 7,000 government data centers, the National Center for Education reports about 130,000 K-12 schools in the United States, and the ALA reports more than 119,000 libraries. Just like commercial and private businesses, these institutions are trying to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and reliability of the critical IT equipment they rely on to be productive. Here are some tips to help you serve these special customers:
- Compliance. Government data centers are held to a level of compliance that sets them apart from other IT applications. Look for Trade Agreement Act (TAA) and Buy American Act (BAA) compliant infrastructure solutions to ensure a smooth and easy buying process. The federal buying season is hot from July to September, so this is the perfect time to reach out with compliant, efficient and reliable infrastructure support solutions.
- DCOI. The Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) requires government agencies to consolidate and modernize IT infrastructure by the end of FY18, with the goal of reducing annual costs associated with federal data centers by 25 percent. Of importance: achieving a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.5 or lower and the use of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools to automate monitoring and operations. Look for cooling and power infrastructure solutions that operate at high efficiencies, and that allow monitoring and management with DCIM tools.
- E-rate. Many schools and libraries qualify for discounts of 20 to 90 percent on telecommunications and Internet access equipment through the E-rate program--the name commonly used for the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission. Check out the USAC website for information on eligible IT and infrastructure support equipment. Now is the time to start planning for the next round of available funds. Rural school districts are eligible for a discount of an additional 5 to 10 percent more than urban areas. Make sure you have your SPIN number handy so you are ready to help your local customers.
- Integration. Education and government customers are feeling the pain of supporting IT equipment at the network edge. To simplify the process for your customers, consider fully integrated infrastructure solutions that can support IT equipment in unlikely spaces that were never intended to be used as a data center. An enclosed row of cabinets with integrated cooling, power, fire suppression and security can fit in small rooms or office spaces. These solutions have the benefit of being flexible enough to customize for specific locations, but are easily repeatable and deployable across a number of sites.
- Lifecycle support. IT networks with edge locations are often straining to fully support their remote sites. More and more, data center operations are looking for infrastructure that can be bundled with lifecycle support to provide installation, removal and disposal of old UPS systems, monitoring of operating conditions, maintenance and service. Look for a supplier with convenience programs, local support and a robust warranty.
Planning your strategy to assist customers with compliance and staffing considerations will help you to shorten your sales cycle with truly helpful support solutions that will benefit your customer and allow you to strengthen your position as a strategic partner. For more information on infrastructure solutions, check with your local Vertiv representative or visit www.VertivCo.com.
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Bob Silkowitz is director of sales, IT solutions, for government customers at Vertiv.
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