While many agencies have made great strides towards meeting Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) mandates, there are still many opportunities that lay ahead to pave the path towards the future of cloud services and adaptive networks, which promise to bring cost savings for years to come. FDCCI requires agencies clearly understand their IT infrastructure in order to operate at maximum efficiency but, if efforts are delayed, or viewed simply as a compliance exercise, the opportunity to reduce costs, improve the efficiency of operations, and even improve data security, will be missed opportunities.
Recently, at the Federal Executive Forum hosted by Trezza Media Group, a group of panelists from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and Brocade came together to discuss progress on data center consolidation. The common theme, featured in this video, was that the process gave them greater visibility into their IT infrastructure and the efficiencies gained freed up personnel who were then able to focus on the agency’s greater mission at hand.
Neal Shelley of U.S. Army’s Information Management Support Center has seen great progress within his own agency. The Army identified over 1200 data centers by Office of Management and Budget’s definition and exceeded their goal of 185 data center closures by FY2015. “By closing many of the smaller datacenters, we’ve increased our security postures and increased efficiencies.”
Alternatively, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has typically struggled to reconcile several disparate IT infrastructures since its inception, is still working diligently to consolidate, modernize, and virtualize their networks. Now, under the technical leadership of Luke McCormack, the newly appointed CIO, there are renewed efforts to meet their internal goal of consolidating numerous data centers down to two secure and separate facilities.
According to analyst firm, IDC, most agencies spend roughly 75 percent of their IT dollars operating and maintaining existing systems. However, DHS reportedly spends about 16.4 percent of its annual $6 billion IT budget on new systems and modernization, which analyst notes is significantly below the federal government average. The department spends 83.6 percent of its IT budget on operation and maintenance of existing systems, which is above the federal average. DHS uses over 16 percent of its annual IT budget for new systems and modernization, to support its focus on data sharing and streamlining across agencies. Increasing its cost savings by consolidating data centers and modernizing the network could be key to realizing long-term cost savings and reducing the large percentage of dollars spent on maintenance. This could be a critical time especially when DHS officials expect budgets to tighten yet again in fiscal 2016.
Steve Wallo, a systems engineering manager at Brocade, has seen significant changes recently across the board with government customers implementing data center consolidation initiatives. However, he realizes that the move to the cloud through consolidation and virtualization requires a fundamental shift in mindset. The first step is really about gaining visibility to understand what can be streamlined. Once that is accomplished, then an agency can leverage managed services and virtualized systems and use them as stepping stones to move to the cloud.
The benefits of consolidated data centers and streamlined IT infrastructure will be seen in the near future. With the growth of adaptive networks, these benefits will continue to be realized for many years to come. Wallo sees that networks will shift from a silo approach to an integrated and adaptive approach. “The whole enterprise will react to an event,” he stated. With an automated holistic approach, an event will be captured and the entire network will analyze and respond making it far more effective.