How federal data center consolidation has evolved in 2016

Mar 09, 2016

Data Center 3.jpgOver the past six years, federal data centers have undergone a number of changes. The 2010 Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative and the 2014 Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act have redefined limits for these facilities and have aimed to minimize the overall sprawl across government agencies. While these two efforts have done a lot to reduce the space, equipment, energy and other resources taken up by data centers, there is still a lot of work to do before government groups can reach their established goals. Let's take a look at the current state of government data center consolidation:

Savings already being seen

Data centers take up a lot of capital to operate efficiently. Funds must be put into power, cooling, equipment maintenance and other efforts, often resulting in costly bills to keep the facility running at optimal levels. However, there is a lot of progress that has been made since FDCCI was first enacted. Out of the 10,584 identified federal data centers, 3,125 of them have already been closed, and another 2,078 are scheduled to follow suit by 2019, eWEEK reported. These consolidation efforts are expected to yield $8.2 billion in savings through fiscal year 2019.

While these initiatives have already started yielding benefits for many federal agencies, there is still some work to be done. Data Center Knowledge noted that Power Usage Effectiveness will need to be lower than 1.5 by September 2018 for all federal data centers that are not closing. To meet this mandate, it will be important to remember that a data center has been redefined as being any room that contains at least one server. As groups work to further limit their data center, they will likely see more boosts in the form of efficient operations and cost savings.

"If improving the PUE in that timeframe is not cost effective, an agency has to look for ways to run the workloads the data center supports elsewhere, such as a cloud service or a data center shared with another agency," Data Center Knowledge editor in chief Yevgeniy Sverdlik wrote.

Doing more to expand consolidation

The progress that federal agencies have made is plain to see, but they could still be doing more to expand their consolidation efforts. In an interview with Federal Times, Brocade Federal vice president Anthony Robbins noted that the original goals weren't aggressive enough, and that the government should be able to operate on 1,000 data centers. However, the funding necessary to achieve such a lofty initiative is a major obstacle, and it raises questions on how to optimize the data centers that are left once the dust settles.

"So much of the IT money that they have today is being spent on architecture that they built yesterday," Robbins said. "Yesterday's infrastructure is going to become more costly at an increasing and accelerating rate because of the hyper growth happening in our IT industry."

In an effort to stem the data center issue, the White House's Office of Management and Budget has released a memo that will impact all agency efforts. The memo stated that data centers cannot be built or expanded on without approval from the Office of the Federal CIO. Agencies must prove that the new facility or expansion is absolutely necessary in order to gain the green light for their project. This new initiative will help reduce the data center sprawl and help close more facilities that aren't needed.

Organizations rely on data centers to do business, but the sprawl of these facilities has gotten out of hand. The federal mandates have made significant headway to meet established closure goals, but agencies must still make efforts to optimize performance on all fronts.



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