Pentagon Has a New Data Center Consolidation Plan
A member of the U.S. Army Band salutes U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (standing at top of steps) during an honor cordon ceremony at the Pentagon, March 23, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Pentagon Has a New Data Center Consolidation Plan

Defense Department responds to critical watchdog report with new IT strategy

The US Department of Defense, possibly the world’s largest data center operator, has announced a new approach to data center consolidation, following a report by a government watchdog several months ago that pointed out the department’s failure to meet earlier consolidation goals and cut costs.

Besides cost savings, having an optimized and up-to-date IT infrastructure means a more able military, as the DoD’s new IT strategy plan, published Thursday, points out. In addition to data center consolidation, it calls for building the department’s own cloud computing environment and lays out six other goals.

In March, the Defense Department inspector general released a report that said the department had closed about 570 of its 3,000-plus data centers by the end of fiscal 2015. The DoD had closed 18 percent of its data centers, failing to meet the government-wide target of shutting down 40 percent of agencies’ data centers by that time.

See also: White House Orders Federal Data Center Construction Freeze

The report blamed DoD CIO Terry Halvorsen for the department’s failure to meet the government’s data center consolidation goals, according to The Wall Street Journal. Had the goal been reached, the department would have saved $680 million last year, the report said, recommending that the department’s consolidation strategy be revised.

Halvorsen’s new plan calls for establishment of a data center closure team, which would identify the “costliest and least efficient facilities” and recommend them for closure. The plan’s two main data center objectives are to consolidate DoD data centers and local computing infrastructure and to rationalize applications and systems for migration into core data centers.

The plan also calls for establishment of an on-premise hybrid cloud, so the DoD's operations are supported with a less complex, less costly, more agile, and defensible IT environment. Halvortsen wants the cloud to provide shared enterprise IT services to the department's agencies and accelerate new application and service delivery.

See also: Defense Department Warming to Commercial Cloud Services

The DoD’s total IT budget exceeded $36 billion in fiscal 2015. Its IT assets include data centers, tens of thousands of servers, about ten thousand operational systems, millions of computers and IT devices, and hundreds of thousands of commercial mobile devices, according to the document outlining the new IT strategy.

The DoD’s IT and cyber team includes technology leaders from numerous military agencies, including Military Services, Strategic Command, Cyber Command, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Information Systems Agency.

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