Hawaii's government is set to continue with a planned data center relocation despite budget cuts.
Hawaii Governor Josh Green has had to use his line-item veto to reduce the General Appropriations Bill of 2023 and balance Hawaii’s financial plan with $500 million of budget cuts, but has kept plans for government data center relocation.
The reduction has been necessitated by general fund projections for Fiscal Year 2022/2023 going from +2 percent to -1 percent.
While still receiving a significant cut, the Department of Accounting and General Service's plans to relocate the government's data center will go ahead, with a budget of $1 million instead of $5m.
The State of Hawaii's data center is currently located in the basement of the government office Kalanimoku Building and is approximately 50 years old, with the building itself located in a flood zone. In 2016, its critical applications were relocated to the University of Hawaii's (UH) two-year-old data center in Manoa, Honolulu, to "reduce risks" associated with the aging Kalanimoku building, while some IT applications were redirected to a DRFortress facility.
The UH IT Center covers 74,000 sq ft (6880 sqm) across six floors to host the enterprise information and communications technology systems for teaching, administration, and research at the University. Additionally, the site hosts an 8,000 sq ft data center for enterprise servers, storage, and communications. The University offers both colocation and VMware-hosted services.
Just days before Governor Green announced cuts, the Office of Enterprise Technology Services and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency hosted guided tours of the state data center and HI-EMA headquarters hoping to demonstrate the necessity for a new data center and emergency response technology park. The latter of which has been entirely axed by the re-budgeting process.
The technology services consolidation group has been ordered as part of the Hawaii SB284 bill to decommission the data center in the Kalanimoku Building and relocate the entirety of the enterprise technology services data center by June 30, 2024, and by the same date in 2028, have all state electronic data stored securely in the cloud.
It is not clear what the budget changes will mean for the state data center, though $1 million remains available for the relocation.
“Our state laws and policies require me to balance the budget and ensure that the state has adequate reserves to protect against budget shortfalls and provide financial stability and flexibility during volatile times and natural disasters,” said Governor Green. “A sound budget and appropriate reserve levels are also needed to help maintain strong bond ratings that can positively affect borrowing costs associated with our capital improvement projects.”
The governor has cut a total of $71 million which would have been directed toward the first responder's campus and high-technology park. The park would have been home to offices, storage, and meeting space, tactical raid practice facilities, an indoor shooting range, a driving course, a cyber security data center, housing, retail space, and a community center.
The cost cut is made up of $50 million of expenditure, previously approved, $12 million for a new Department of Defense headquarters, and $5 million for a training center for the state Department of Law Enforcement among others.
As for why the technology park has been targeted, Green said that while he appreciates the importance of data security for emergency services, he wanted some clarity on why the technology campus was so necessary, and why it had received some flack. For example, the Honolulu police department had remained consistently reluctant to relocate operations to the facility.
Green is not the only one to question the transparency of the proposal. Earlier this month, Rep Elle Cochran said that this proposed budget “undermines public confidence in the legislature,” and that the details of the proposal had been unavailable for scrutiny prior to voting. Cochran said on the House chamber floor: “This hasn’t given me enough information.”
In addition to the Technology Park cuts, the Department of Human Resources has lost the entirety of the previously promised $3 million for IT, computer equipment, and infrastructure.
It isn't all bad news for the data center sector in Hawaii. In May 2023, DRFortress expanded its Honolulu data center, adding 220 racks and 500kW of power. That same month saw the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) prepare to launch a private classified cloud in Hawaii called Stratus, while other DISA users will turn to Amazon Web Services.