According to Information Week, the Social Security Administration’s primary data center is reaching its usefulness limits and is an accident waiting to happen. The software is believed to be decades-old and hampers the agency’s ability to service its claimants by offering a better web presence. The agency plans to overhaul its primary data center as a part of a five-year process.
The Social Security’s data center is located at the agency’s headquarters in Woodlawn, MD. The agency last year distributed $703 billion in retirement, disability and survivor benefits to 53 million Americans, and according to its annual reports, those figures are sure to keep rising. The agency cannot afford a disruption or an outage of its systems, as so many Americans depend on its benefit services.
A service interruption in the SSA’s data center would cause a severe delay in the delivery of benefits to disabled citizens who depend on their monthly payments for day-to-day living. The new data center building plans fell behind schedule, by almost a year, but the agency officials expect it to be operational in 2016. The data center’s infrastructure – electrical, cooling and heating systems – can no longer keep up with requirements. According to a project plan, the facility will reach its maximum electrical distribution capacity within four years. The data center was build with a 1970s mainframe and lacks a redundant electrical and heating system. It has a fire suppression system that does not cover the entire data center floor and its HVAC is past its expected life cycle, reports the agency’s deputy commissioner for systems.
In case of a service unavailability, the Social Security Administration operates a secondary data center used as backup and recovery in North Carolina. It would take about five days to get the secondary data center to run main and critical applications necessary to issue monthly Social Security disability payments that individuals desperately count on.