The U.S. government has shut down 39 data centers so far this year, and expects to close 98 more by the end of 2011, federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said today. That would yield a total of 137 data centers shuttered in the first year of the Obama administration’s effort to eliminate waste by consolidating government data centers.
Kundra says the roadmap calls for 800 of the government’s 2,094 data centers to be closed by 2015, with their workloads shifted to more efficient data centers or cloud computing platforms.
The consolidation effort will accelerate in the next 18 months, as the task force heading the effort will create a government-wide “marketplace” to make more efficient use of data center space. “This online marketplace will match agencies with extra capacity to agencies with increasing demand, thereby improving the utilization of existing facilities,” according to the implementation plan (PDF) for the consolidation. The marketplace will help agencies with available capacity promote their available data center space. Once agencies have a clear sense of the existing capacity landscape, they can make more informed consolidation decisions.”
Public Dashboard to Track Consolidation
The implementation plan also calls for the details of the consolidation to be shared with the public. The Office of Management and Budget “will launch a publicly available dashboard to serve as a window into progress of the data center consolidation program,” the plan says. “The dashboard will ensure transparency and accountability, and keep the overall program in plain view of the public.”
Towards that end, the government has published the list of data centers that have been closed or targeted for closure. The data is available in a comma-separated list from Data.gov or at the Washington Post. NASA has been the most active agency thus far, consolidating 13 of its 14 data centers, while the departments of Defense (8), Commerce (6) and the Interior (4) have also closed multiple data centers.
What kind of savings is the government realizing from these efforts? Kundra highlighted a project to consolidate a Rockville, Maryland data center operated by the department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The 15,000 square foot data center contained 218 racks of gear, and had an annual power bill of $1.2 million.
The Department of Defense will be the busiest consolidator for the balance of 2011, as it is scheduled to close 43 more data centers by year-end. Other agencies with many closures slated include the Department of the interior (14 more) and the Department of Agriculture (10 more).
‘Cloud First’ Focuses on Email, Storage
Kundra also highlighted the government’s plan to use a “cloud first” policy in shifting IT assets to third-party platforms wherever it is practical and meets the government’s security standards. The earliest targets are email and cloud storage.
The office of the CIO said Wednesday that 15 agencies have identified approximately 950,000 mailboxes and over 100 email systems that will move to the cloud. On the storage front, the Department of Justice is consolidating storage solutions across 250 locations for 18,000 U.S. Attorneys to a single cloud platform. “Hundreds” of human resource and financial management systems will be consolidated in the cloud, the CIO’s office said.
Despite that progress, serious challenges remain in the government consolidation effort. A survey of federal IT managers by research firm MeriTalk and storage vendor NetApp found that while IT decision makers have consistent data center definitions within their own agencies, there is a lack consistency government-wide. Agencies are using at least three different definitions to qualify data centers MeriTalk said in its summary of the survey of more than 150 managers. Some agencies report they are using a physical server count as a tracking metric, others use the storage capacity utilized, and still others use network bandwidth.
But on the whole, the MeriTalk/NetApp survey found that federal IT decision makers believe they will meet the Office of Management and Budget’s 2015 deadline to consolidate data centers, and identify a combined $18.8 billion more they can save in their IT budgets with consolidation alone.