More Time Needed for Data Center Optimization

Published: March 30, 2017

Data Center

According GAO’s Director of IT Issues, Dave Powner, agencies will need more time to meet data center optimization goals.

Powner spoke at Meritalk’s 2017 Data Center Brainstorm last week in Washington, DC. 

According to Powner, only four of the 24 CFO agencies account for the majority of the cost savings to date.  Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security and Treasury have amassed 95% of the $2.5B in total savings to date for federal data center consolidation/optimization efforts.  

Only a handful of agencies are the major contributors to data center consolidation goals. Agriculture, Treasury, Justice, GSA, and NASA have closed 50% or more of their data centers, while VA only plans to close 8% of its tiered data centers and Transportation only plans to close 4% by 2018.

Overall agencies have closed 4,388 data centers as of August 2016 and plan to close a total of 5,597 by the end of 2019.  4,600 of active data centers are agency owned, according to GAO. 

Data center consolidation and optimization began in 2010 with the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI).  In August 2016, OMB launched the follow-on initiative, the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI).  According to GAO, data center consolidation and optimization efforts promise up to $5B in cost savings.  However to date, agencies have only realized half of these savings. According to GAO, twelve agencies submitted data center plans that showed future out-year savings of $632M, ten agency plans showed no savings, and two agencies, OPM and DoD didn’t submit plans.  OMB is targeting $2.7B in out-year savings. “The numbers don’t add up,” according to Powner.  “There’s more to do.”

When you look at optimization metrics established by DCOI, most agencies aren’t meeting many of the goals. Powner would like to see the optimization metrics figured into FITARA scoring for data centers, but because most agencies are not meeting these goals, it would bring FITARA scoring down even lower than it is today. “By 2018 when the data center portion of FITARA sunsets, we will only have about one third of the agencies meeting the goals,” said Powner.

Powner recommends that the data center portion of FITARA be extended two years to 2020.  Powner suggests that “If agencies can’t get it done in 10 years, then maybe they shouldn’t be in the data center business.”

Only two agencies have the automated monitoring tools to measure server utilization that are required by DCOI.  OMB guidance requires that all agencies have these tools in place by 2018.  There’s a disconnect in the timing according to Powner, because this is also when the FITARA data center requirements sunset.

Powner recommends that agencies share best practices and seek the help of the CIO Council in order to accelerate data center consolidation and optimization efforts.   Additionally, the federal IT workforce needs to be assessed and key positions must be filled, for example cyber personnel, stated Powner.