Stop Focusing on Vanity Metrics and Optimize the Government’s Data Centers

It has been almost five years since the federal government launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI). The initiative called for agencies to reduce the government’s 3,100 data centers by 40 percent. This effort was anticipated to save the federal government as much as $5 billion by 2015. However, instead of moving steadily towards achieving these goals, the number of data centers identified within government has since increased, leaving agencies far from what would be considered industry best practices. Given the current number of federal agencies and government employees, government should be aiming to support approximately 1,000 data centers, total. In 2013, the number was discovered to be closer to 7,000.

So, how do we get there?

We recently conducted a study, “Show Me the Money: The Key to Doubling Agency Savings,” that found 24 percent of agency IT budgets could be saved if five IT solutions were fully implemented – IT consolidation, virtualization, cloud computing, remote access and infrastructure diversification – all of which play an important role in infrastructure modernization. When it comes to cost saving initiatives that simultaneously help agencies improve efficiency and support government’s advancing IT priorities, the time to act is now. A recent forecast from Deltek found that federal IT spending is expected to drop to $98 billion (previously $101 billion) in 2015. As such, it is necessary for agencies to identify ways to continue innovating and operating efficiently, while further cutting costs.

So what is holding up data center consolidation progress? Many consolidation efforts began by identifying the lowest hanging fruit – small data centers composed of just a few servers. The closure of such a data center is an easy way for an agency to check a center off their list. However, this tactic brings to light a bigger issue of management and lack of performance-driven goal setting. It is time for agencies to stop taking the easy way out.

We’ve identified five pillars of the data center to help build a modernized infrastructure that supports virtualization and enables efficient, consolidated data centers – 1) application effectiveness, 2) programmatic control, 3) security and data integrity, 4) elasticity and scalability, and 5) automation. Building a data center infrastructure rooted in these pillars will help cut agency costs while improving infrastructure performance and productivity.

 At a recent FedScoop event, DISA CIO Dave Bennett articulated critical next steps as agencies make progress towards consolidation goals: “We are starting to focus and drive down more capabilities and end users into a more centralized set of facilities that support the growing demand. It’s inherent upon us to ensure that the infrastructure is as solid and reliable as can be so that the end user can get the performance expected.” With infrastructure built on the abovementioned five pillars of the data center, agencies can achieve just that.

What are your agency’s current data center consolidation and modernization goals? I encourage you to read more about how your agency can improve efficiency and achieve commercial best practices in the data center. The time to focus on results and performance instead of vanity metrics is now.

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