Federal Data Center Consolidation Goals

Organizations in the federal data center market have been working for the past few years to meet facility consolidation standards. In late February, the Army announced that it had "made substantial progress" in its data center consolidation goals by thinning its data center footprint by 100 buildings, according to Federal News Radio.

Federal Data Center Consolidation Plans
Army authorities began working toward consolidating the number of data centers utilized for infrastructure purposes in 2010, when the initiative was adopted as a priority by the federal government. While fortification efforts began nearly four years ago, several government agencies looked to expedite consolidation plans late last year with the introduction of a new bill. In December, Senate Homeland Security and the Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill that established deadlines for groups to complete their facility consolidations on a shorter timeline.

The bill seeks to shut down 40 percent of its facilities, approximately 1,200 of the 3,000 data centers utilized by federal organizations, by 2015. This could save the government as much as $3 billion in operating costs. However, since the consolidation goal was initially introduced, departments have been slow to adopt it, prompting the need for the 2013 bill.

At the time of the 2010 announcement, authorities noted that the infrastructure utilized by the Department of Homeland Security was becoming overly redundant and disorganized, prompting the establishment of the centralizing initiative.

"Data center consolidation is compulsory to the successful execution of the DHS mission," stated the 2011 Data Center Consolidation Plan and Progress Report.

Army Consolidation: Ahead of schedule
The Army is currently ahead of schedule with its consolidation plans. The agency has closed 165 data centers thus far, and is track to complete 200 closings ahead of its 2015 goal. However, the Defense Department's priorities with these efforts has somewhat shifted to focus on migrating to shared enterprise data center services.

Gary Blohm, Army Architecture Integration Center director, noted that facility consolidation can lead to greater efficiency, but the organization is now aiming to move DoD core data centers.

"In the end, it's really about the data and applications, it's not about where the facilities are located," Blohm said. "We're going to provide guidance to our system owners, and we intend to get that signed out by the undersecretary of the Army by the end of March."

The Army isn't alone in its data center consolidation projects. The Transportation Department had closed 33 data centers by late 2013 through increased use of cloud infrastructures. Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has plans in place to close about 60 of its 274 data centers by the end of next year.

"We'll reduce our footprint and do it in a cost-effective manner," said NOAA CIO Joseph Klimavicz. "But the real goal is to reduce costs, retire applications that are not that critical and increase services so we can meet mission requirements."

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