Recently, Rob Wolborsky, CTO for SPAWAR, was interviewed by Defense Systems magazine (read article:http://defensesystems.com/articles/2012/03/28/chief-view-rob-wolborsky-navy-data-center-consolidation.aspx?s=ds_160412). In the interview, Rob shared several somewhat startling facts:
- There are over 120 data centers that support Navy and Marines, but there is no existing reliable measure of what each of those centers costs.
- SPAWAR has put together ten working teams to undertake a substantial effort to understand what each center is costing them, and why, so they can determine how to consolidate appropriately.
- They have completed just a third of the assessments so far. Based on what they’ve found, they estimate they can close nearly 60 (50%) of the data centers without decreasing services, with close to 20 closing in just the first year.
The US Navy is a large organization and this program is a major undertaking. But it leads me to a couple of interesting questions which apply equally to an agency with just a handful of data centers. To be on track to take advantage of the cloud by year-end 2012, you need to be able to answer yes to every question. Can you?
- Do you know what each of your data centers costs you today? Further, do you have an understanding of the individual cost to run each application within each data center?
- Are you nearly finished with consolidating and virtualizing the operating systems, system images, databases and the like that your data centers currently operate, in preparation for full-scale data center consolidation?
- Have you identified the final list of which applications will move to the cloud, to provide more cost-effective, available and reliable service now, and in preparation for moving your remaining data-center-based applications into the smallest serviceable footprint in the future?
These are questions that each agency must be able to answer. Pete Tseronis has urged federal government agencies to come up with more than the required three cloud candidates by the end of the year. But where do you start? I recommend starting with:
- Find the data center that has the lowest operating costs (square foot x utilities x servers)
- Profile your applications. Rank your applications based on criticality, usage (daily, monthly, and seasonal surge), need for redundancy, and the level of importance within your agency.
- Structure a plan to address the required three (if not more) cloud requirements.
GTSI has an established methodology for migrating applications to the cloud; we call it “GCAM” or the GTSI cloud assurance model. The model has seven discrete steps:
- Identify the costs to run a particular application as it is configured and running today, versus the cost to run that application in the cloud
- Quantify the performance of that application as it is configured today
- Identify the policies, procedures and governance changes that will be required if this application is migrated to the cloud
- Migrate the application
- Implement the policy, procedure and governance changes identified in (3) above
- Measure the performance to ensure it is better than (2) above
- Provide proof of the cost reduction goal as identified in (1) above
This model can provide structure to simplify execution of such a large project, while helping to migrate applications to the cloud successfully and demonstrate that success in real terms.
I still maintain that while data center consolidation an important component of an agency’s cost management strategy, it will not completely address the planned budget cuts on the horizon. Identifying applications that can move to the cloud will be a necessary step to further reduce your server footprint. There may be some applications which cannot and should not be moved to the cloud, but moving what you can will avoid greater hardships when budgets shrink in the coming years.
As always, thanks for reading.
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