Is DCOI about data center consolidation or moving to the cloud? Yes—DCOI is about both!
A Perfect Storm
In 2010, Vivek Kundra announced that the federal government had 10,584 datacenters. OMB sought to change that. The Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) was launched to reduce the overall energy use and real estate of federal datacenters.
In December 2014, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) was signed into law. FITARA requires federal agencies to submit annual reports and multi-year strategies to track the consolidation, performance and cost savings of all datacenters.
Earlier this year FDCCI was superseded by the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). DCOI states that all federal data centers shall be managed in accordance with FITARA and OMB M-15-14. DCOI + FITARA = FDCCI with teeth. Each CIO is responsible for implementing and measuring progress on these stated goals.
OMB intends that DCOI build on the success of FDCCI by further reducing application and database inventories, and closing more data centers. It’s also about increasing virtualization and improving energy efficiencies, and implementing dynamic allocation of pooled resources.
Many of these objectives can be met by cloud technologies, and agencies should consider three things on their journey of consolidation:
- Transition to dynamically provisioned services. Consider configurable and flexible technology such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to the furthest extent practicable, consistent with Cloud First;
- Migrating to inter-agency shared services or co-location data centers;
- Migrating to more optimized data centers within the agency’s datacenter inventory.
What exactly is a datacenter?
The definition of a data center has been in flux for the past five years. Now, OBM has spelled it out clearly.
OBM classifies a data center as a room with at least 1 server that provides services, whether they are used for development, testing, or production. A closet with routers and switches, or a printer room does not qualify. All data centers will be categorized into two groups: tiered and non-tiered.
Tiered and Non-Tiered Data Centers
A tiered data center must have uninterruptable power, back-up generators, and dedicated cooling. The term “tier” refers to availability of a datacenter.
A non-tiered data center refers to everything else, from a small room to a server under an admin’s desk.
How Do We Know When We’re There?
According to the GAO, 24 agencies participated in FDDCI. Of the 10,584 data centers, 224 were considered “core” or tiered data centers. While 3,125 data centers were reported closed by the end of 2015, 84% of those closures were made by only four agencies. OMB wants DCOI to be more democratic, looking for full participation across all twenty-four agencies.
DCOI’s four goals are: cost savings, efficiency, modernization, innovation. Cost saving and efficiency are obvious speak to savings on the bottom line, while modernization and innovation speak to the goals of better serving the public.
How do you measure success? The key is well defined metrics. DCOI has five very important metrics: Energy Metering, Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), Virtualization, Server Utilization and Automated Monitoring, and Facility Utilization.
OMB and FITARA guidelines state we should expect 60% of non-tiered data centers closed and 25% of tiered data centers consolidated by 2018. All existing tiered data centers need to achieve a Power Effectiveness Rating (PUE) of 1.5 and all new data centers must have a PUE of 1.2. The GAO predicts a savings of $8.2 billion.
The IT Dashboard is a website that provides all agency stakeholders and the general public easy access to the metrics that agency Chief Information Officers are responsible for providing. Below is an example of one dashboard showing Power Usage Effectiveness, one of the five key metrics. You can get overall statistics for the federal government or drill down by agency.
Implementation and Progress: https://datacenters.cio.gov/implementation-and-progress/
Why is OMB so big on cloud if DCOI is about datacenter consolidation?
There is currently a freeze on building new datacenters and with 5,000 datacenters need to be closed these servers have to go somewhere. OBM believes they can go in the cloud. Existing tiered datacenters are already at maximum capacity and they don’t all meet the required power efficiency ratings to add new servers.
By moving non-tiered datacenters and miscellaneous servers scattered around the country to new FedRAMP certified datacenters, agencies can more easily meet their goals of modernization and innovation while decreasing cost and improving security posture.
OMB wants agencies to choose “Cloud First” to the furthest extent practicable. The key phrase is “to the furthest extent practicable.” OBM is not the only one that feels this way. Terry Halvorsen, Department of Defense CIO, wants everything to move to the cloud. He wants agencies to think outside the box. Moving to the cloud might not always be exactly what you think. The key message is that he wants servers off “his concrete.”
John Hale, Chief of DISA’s Cloud Portfolio has a similar message. He sees three buckets. The first is legacy servers—old SUN boxes and applications written in languages that can’t be modernized. These stay put. The second is applications with a high security impact factor, like Nuclear Regulatory applications. No FedRAMP datacenter can take these yet. The third bucket is all the un-classified, sensitive but unclassified (SBU) or For Official Use Only (FOUO) applications that run in the 5,000+ non-tiered data centers. These are prime candidates to move to the cloud.
DCOI should not be seen as a punishment, but as an opportunity to achieve cost savings, gain efficiency, modernize and innovate—by moving to the cloud.