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New Report Reveals Only 23% of Federal Agencies Fully Track Data Center Consolidation Savings

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 28, 2011 – MeriTalk (www.meritalk.com), the government information technology – IT – network, today released a new study on Federal data center consolidation, “Measure to Manage II: Consolidation Crash Course?” The study, underwritten by NetApp, finds that barely one in four – 23 percent – of Federal IT decision makers says that their IT departments can track full data center consolidation savings, which limits their ability to quantify and reinvest savings. Further, 67 percent of respondents do not know average kilowatts per rack electricity usage across their data centers, and 24 percent do not know their data storage efficiency.

The study of 157 Federal IT decision makers reveals that 84 percent of Federal agencies are working on data center consolidation, which aligns with the Office of Management Budget’s – OMB – mandate to close 800 data centers by 2015[1]. However, there are significant efficiency metric blind spots. While energy consumes 12 percent[2] of typical data center budgets, 77 percent do not know the Power Use Effectiveness – PUE – across their data centers.

“Today’s report from MeriTalk should be a bright warning light for those of us interested in closing and consolidating wasteful and duplicative data centers,” said Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. “According to the report, barely a quarter of Federal IT personnel say they fully track the savings from consolidation. There’s also little knowledge about how much – and how efficiently – Federal data centers are using energy. While we are trying to cut the fat from our data center budgets, it seems we can’t even see over our belts to the number on the scale.”

The new study also notes that:

  • 23 percent of survey respondents from Federal agencies know their PUE versus 82 percent[3] in the private sector
  • 31 percent of survey respondents from Federal agencies know the average load across their data centers versus 94 percent3 in the private sector
  • Fewer than half – 42 percent – of Federal IT decision makers agree that their IT departments have an incentive to achieve data center savings, including savings that will be realized by budgets outside of IT

While Federal IT decision makers recognize consolidation will deliver savings beyond IT – energy, real estate, and personnel – agencies lack visibility to capture the hard savings numbers.

“The GAO has identified Federal data centers as a major source of wasteful duplication in the Federal government,” Senator Carper said. “Federal CIO Vivek Kundra has announced that 137 data centers will be closed this year with the goal of closing another 600-plus by 2015. If we’re going to get beyond the low-hanging fruit – or the fruit already on the ground – we need to make sure that we have the information available and incentives in place to make it work. In the coming weeks, my subcommittee looks forward to reviewing the progress towards closing down these wasteful data centers and assessing what more needs to be done.”

Fewer than half of respondents track key data center storage efficiency metrics, such as capacity allocation and consumption, provisioning time, and incident metrics. As a result, agencies appear to lack a clear picture of current data center utilization − 47 percent of respondents are unsure of the storage capacity currently utilized in their data centers.

“We applaud OMB’s efforts to realize more flexible and efficient IT performance through consolidation,” said Mark Weber, president of U.S. Public Sector, NetApp. “As a next step agency IT departments need to achieve improved insight into their overall data center efficiency and storage utilization gains to enhance their ability to reinvest those savings and improve service quality. To accomplish this, a common set of metrics must be established so that agencies can agree on what to track in order to accurately measure results and demonstrate savings.”

This study builds on the April 2011 MeriTalk report, “Measure to Manage,” which identified Federal consolidation progress, data center optimization metrics, and an estimated $18.8 billion savings opportunity.

“Federal data center consolidation is apple pie – who could be against it?” said Steve O’Keeffe, founder, MeriTalk. “That said, it’s hardly fair to blame our data center chefs if the pie tastes bad when they’re forced to cook with suspect ingredients on a broken stove.”

The “Measure to Manage II: Consolidation Crash Course?” report is based on an in-person survey of 157 Federal IT decision makers at the May 2011 “Data Center Consolidation on a Dime” event in Washington, D.C., as well as through an online panel of government IT executives in April and May 2011. To download the full study results, please visit www.meritalk.com/datacentercrashcourse .

About MeriTalk

The voice of tomorrow’s government today, MeriTalk is an online community that combines professional networking and thought leadership to drive the government IT community dialogue. Developed as a partnership among the Federal Business Council, Federal Employee Defense Services, Federal Managers Association, GovLoop, National Treasury Employees Union, USO, and WTOP/WFED radio, MeriTalk is a community network. For more information, visit www.meritalk.com or follow us on Twitter, @meritalk.



[1] “The 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management,” December 10, 2010 http://www.cio.gov/documents/25-Point-Implementation-Plan-to-Reform-Federal%20IT.pdf

[2] “Gartner Says Energy-Related Costs Account for Approximately 12 Percent of Overall Data Center Expenditures,” September 29, 2010 http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1442113

[3] “Market Awareness and Profile Study,” February 2011 www.digitalrealtytrust.com

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