In 2010 the Office of Management and Budget launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI). Nearly two years into the initiative, observers of this massive effort note the government still has much work to do. While agencies are meeting the initiative’s broad goals, it is going to be a difficult task to close 40 percent of the federal government’s 3,133 data centers by the end of 2015. The conundrum is, of course, that while closing data centers meets the initiative’s requirements, federal IT managers must also understand how the heavier workloads will impact the remaining facilities and work out how to contain their operating costs.
Stephen Wallo, a senior systems engineer at Brocade, notes that the FDCCI is top of mind among everyone with whom he talks. “Government organizations are doing well in tackling consolidation, particularly in identifying which data centers should remain open and which should close,” Wallo says. He believes there will be a more mature approach to the data center consolidation process in 2013 by focusing on which data centers deliver services most efficiently.
Wallo points out the importance of focusing on power and cooling technologies as well as taking advantage of space saving solutions for equipment. Initially, organizations will experience additional cost savings based on a reduction in power costs as there will be fewer data centers to operate. However, as these data centers do more work, it will be important to track costs to ensure economies of scale are not only reached but maintained. Otherwise, the benefits of consolidation could be compromised.
Budgets, though, will have a huge impact on the success of the initiative and whether it meets the 2015 deadline.
In an interview with FCW late last year, David Powner, director of IT management issues at the Government Accountability Office, commented that “gaps in equipment inventories and cost estimates, coupled with poor planning on how to increase efficiency, are making it challenging for agencies to comply with the deadline.”
He went on to say, “It all starts with knowing what you have, so complete inventories are essential for success. Having comprehensive cost estimates and detailed schedules are the key components of data center consolidation plans so that cost savings over [specified] periods of time are clearly known.”
In the meantime, Wallo encourages the use of open standards among federal data centers while deploying a set of best-of-breed solutions that can best keep up with the needs of agencies and departments making use of these facilities.
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