The U.S. government has 2,094 data centers, nearly 1,000 more than previous estimates, according to an updated inventory by federal agencies. The finding underscores the scope of the challenge facing the Obama administration as it seeks to streamline the government’s IT infrastructure.
For months, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra has cited the existence of 1,100 federal data centers as evidence of government waste and inefficiency. Kundra has repeatedly used this data point to drive home the need for a major data center consolidation that will consolidate servers and drastically reduce the number of U.S. government facilities.
It turns out Kundra was massively underestimating the extent of the redundancy. The new total was included in a memo from Kundra and Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires, who is coordinating the government consolidation effort.
Off by 1,000 Facilities?
How could the government lose track of 1,000 data centers? It’s not uncommon for consolidation-related inventories to uncover more servers and IT rooms than expected. The U.S. government’s effort looms as the largest data center consolidation in history, so the disconnect between initial estimates and the final count was equally epic.
The process defined a data center as any room larger than 500 square feet dedicated to data processing that meets the one of the four tier classifications defined by The Uptime Institute.
Which agencies have the most data centers? Not surprisingly, those with the most distributed operations:
- Department of Defense (772)
- State Department (361)
- Department of the Interior (210)
- Health and Human Services (185)
- Department of Energy (89)
- Veteran’s Administration (87)
The plans and budgets submitted by federal agencies are being reviewed by the administration and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), with a goal of approving final plans by Dec. 31. The process got underway back in March, when Kundra directed federal agencies to prepare an inventory of their IT assets by April 30 and submit a preliminary data center consolidation plan by Aug. 31.
In announcing the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, Kundra outlined four high-level goals:
- Promote the use of Green IT by reducing the overall energy and real estate footprint of government data centers;
- Reduce the cost of data center hardware, software and operations;
- Increase the overall IT security posture of the government;
- Shift IT investments to more efficient computing platforms and technologies.
That last bullet point is boosting expectations that a meaningful chunk of government IT operations will be shifted to a cloud computing model. Spires said in an Aug. 31 presentation that he expects some of the agency-level consolidation plans to include proposals to use cloud computing services.
The General Services Administration is in the final stages of shoring up the requirements for a government-wide program to certify and accredit cloud computing products and services through a process known as the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).