Feds Will Shutter 137 Data Centers in 2011

The interior of a government data center in Rockville, Md. that has been closed, saving $1.2 million a year in energy costs. Is that really carpeting atop the raised floor tiles?

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.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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  1. in some ways this is no surprise, on the one hand you have to feel sorry for all the people who lost their jobs working all these data centres. On the other hand you have to feel good about the fact that this is a much greener approach and is saving tax dollars.... but keeping everything in the same place raises security worries in my opinion.

  2. We applaud the federal government’s move to not only reduce their vast number of data centers through consolidation but also look forward to Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra’s efforts to significantly reduce overall energy consumption in the remaining data centers. We hope that Mr. Kundra will reach out to organizations like The Green Grid (http://www.thegreengrid.org) for guidance and support on what can be a painstaking process. This new found focus on energy efficiency will translate into significant operational efficiencies for the government, and tax payers, not only through reductions in total data center energy consumption but also through reduced service costs, hardware replacement, software licenses (which must be staggering at the Federal level), as well as general administrative expenses. To truly focus the government’s limited IT and facility resources we strongly encourage the evaluation process include a complete mapping of each remaining site’s Cascade Effect in order to truly understand the net impacts of IT efficiency improvements on data center total energy consumption and productivity. PUE alone is not the answer. http://www.emerson.com/edc/page/Energy-Logic.aspx