Government Agencies Look To Consolidate Data Centers

30 Jul 2014 by Technology

"Recently, a number of federal agencies have been reshuffling and changing the way they store and access their computing resources. As part of an overall government initiative to reduce the number of data center facilities being used, these groups are now aligning their efforts for consolidation.

U.S. Army Migrates Enterprise Applications
One such example of these consolidation processes involves the U.S. Army, which recently began addressing its enterprise application sprawl, according to Data Center Knowledge.

In June, Under Secretary Brad Carson issued a memo stating that all enterprise applications being used by that branch of armed services must be migrated to specific core data centers by the end of fiscal year 2018. This includes programs being stored in more than 1,100 data centers currently being utilized by the Army.

This move is part of an overarching push by the government called the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, which was first established in 2012. The measure noted that in a mere 11 years, the number of data centers being used by federal agencies grew from 432 to over 1,100. Furthermore, in 2006 alone, these facilities utilized more than 6 billion kilowatt hours of energy.

""In addition to the energy impact, information collected from agencies in 2009 shoes relatively low utilization rates of current infrastructure and limited reuse of data centers within or across agencies,"" the initiative FAQ sheet stated. ""The cost of operating a single data center is significant, from hardware and software costs to real estate and cooling costs. The [FDCCI] aims to address these challenges by leveraging best practices in the public and private sector.""

As the Army continues to follow the FDCCI guidelines, the branch will benefit from a more streamlined infrastructure, reduced operating and maintenance costs, noted Data Center Knowledge.

""In the end, it's about counting dollars,"" said former Navy CIO Terry Halvorsen.

NASA Seeks Consolidation Advice
Another group looking to keep in step with FDCCI is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. According to DatacenterDynamics, the organization recently put out a Request for Information pertaining to data center consolidation. NASA is considering three different approaches involving short term, interim and long term strategies. Overall, the group wants to ""evaluate its options for energy-efficient data centers to supplement [or] replace existing solutions at its Goddard Space Flight Center.""

Following In The Steps Of Gartner Recommendations
The government's FDDCI comes on the heels of Gartner research-supported recommendations in connection with the use of a reduced number of data centers. The firm advocated the use of a twin data center strategy last year, where organizations limit themselves to two facilities per continent. Having a pair of data centers on each continent of major business activity will reduce the amount of wasted or underutilized resources while ensuring that customer demands are met.

""It's a fact that most global organizations run too many data centers in too many countries. This is normally the result of business expansion, either organically or through acquisition over many years,"" noted Gartner research vice president Rakesh Kumar. ""While the logic of business growth makes sense, having too many data centers results in excessive capital and operational costs, an overly complex architecture and, in many cases, a lack of business-IT agility.""

However, as the government continues on the road to data center consolidation, it is important that they understand the complexity and considerations that come along with the migration.

""Government IT leaders stress that any data center overhaul cannot simply be an IT-driven initiative that amounts to a check-box exercise,"" wrote CIO contributor Kenneth Corbin. ""The process should entail a considered engagement with the business lines of the agency."""

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