News Column

GM Makes Michigan Its Data Nerve Center

May 13, 2013
General Motors headquarters (file photo)
General Motors headquarters (file photo)

General Motors plans to construct a second data center in Milford to go along with a recently opened information technology data operation in Warren, making Michigan the nerve center of GM's global data.

The automaker today confirmed that it will invest $258 million to open a new data center at its Milford Proving Grounds after receiving a tax abatement from Milford Township to construct the facility. Construction will start this summer, and the facility is expected to open in July 2014.

As many as 350 skilled-trades construction workers are expected to help build the center, including 95% from southeast or central Michigan, GM said.

GM also recently spent $130 million to create a new IT command center at its Technical Center in Warren.

Collectively, the two operations will "mirror" each other, allowing continuous flow of information in case one site has an outage. It's a standard strategy in the data center business to implement systems that won't lose data in the case of a natural disaster, for example.

The changes essentially mean that all of GM's global data will flow through the two Michigan operations.

The centers are part of GM Chief Information Officer Randy Mott's plan to reduce the automaker's complex information technology structure. Part of that plan was to reduce the number of GM data centers from 23 to two. The company is also "insourcing" 90% of its IT work, which was previously conducted mostly by outside contractors.

Mott and GM CEO Dan Akerson are expected to address the company's information technology overhaul at a press conference this morning.

"Having a single nerve center for our global operations will get newer vehicle designs and technologies into our customers' hands quicker and improve the bottom line," Akerson said in a statement. "IT is back home where it should be, and it further drives unnecessary complexity from our businesses while improving our operational efficiency and better supporting our business strategy."

Mott has described the overhaul as vital to expediting the vehicle development process, reducing costs and improving communication speed throughout the global automaker's business.

For example, GM said the new systems would allow it to crunch data quickly through digital crash test analysis, saving $350,000 for every actual crash test that doesn't have to be conducted.

The 5,040-square-foot facility in Warren has 48 computer stations and 28 video screens allowing IT analysts to monitor information flow.

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Source: Copyright Detroit Free Press (MI) 2013


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