Roughly halfway through the initial period of the federal data center consolidation initiative (FDCCI) most government agencies are on the right path to achieving key benchmarks and overall project goals around cost and efficiency benefits. The FDCCI arose out of a 25-point plan authored by former US CIO, Vivek Kundra, in 2010 to minimize waste and inefficiency in the government IT sector. Based on data from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), it is estimated that the federal government will save $1.2 billion and realize $800 million in cost avoidance between 2011 and 2015. Though some estimate the cost savings could be as high as $5 billion once all is said and done.
Woody Hall, former government CIO, and currently senior vice president at General Dynamics Information Technology, notes there’s been some reluctance to consolidate data centers and pursue cloud solutions in the public sector but concerns are diminishing as the benefits of data center consolidation become more obvious. “The federal space is maturing, a lot has changed over the last 20 years, and government agencies are moving in the right direction,” Hall notes. “We’re not there yet, though,” he adds. Hall also notes that coordinating between agencies and having them embrace shared data center space has “slowed things down.”
Tim Larkins, a consultant with immixGroup, echoes Hall’s sentiments noting the slow progress, but also seeing that the “realization of cost savings” is providing definite motivation to keep the data center consolidation process going.
A great example of the FDCCI at work can be seen at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The agency’s goal is to move from 43 to 2 data centers by the 2015 deadline. By the end of the 2013 calendar year the agency will have closed 14 data centers. As Stephanie Sullivan, a consultant at immixGroup notes, the DHS typifies the pattern “it is slow going, but they’re on their way and doing everything they can to ensure that happens.”
The consolidation effort is one which agencies are continuing to embrace as they seek ways to eliminate the overlap and redundancy still prevalent across federal data centers. But some agencies still face challenges associated with data center consolidation.
Jim Flanagan director of the Office of Information services at the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission shared his experiences with consolidation at an Executive Leadership Forum hosted by immixGroup. “As far as IT is concerned, we’re probably less integrated then I would like at this point in time” he noted. “We’re working hard this year to put forth a cloud initiative. We already have a small presence in the cloud but it is mostly driven by singular systems (through functions such as HR and finance), but we’re now looking for an opportunity to take our seven data centers and shift them down to one or two data centers moving the majority of our production components to the cloud.”
Flanagan’s sentiment of ‘slowly but surely’ was echoed by other government officials in attendance. Kirit Amin, Deputy CIO and Chief Technology Officer at Department of Commerce identified the barriers to data consolidation at his agency as being a matter of overcoming internal obstacles and focusing intra-agency collaboration since there are multiple bureaus and agencies within the Department of Commerce.
Despite these barriers to entry both those executing on the FDCCI and those observing its implementation are confident that the effort will realize tangible benefits. Agencies need to work together to understand capabilities at hand, areas of redundancy, and share experiences and best practices.
In fact, we’ll start the process of collaboration here by offering up some of the best practices that we’ve gleaned from data center consolidation experts. Click here to read these tips.