Finding Efficiency with Data Center Consolidation

This post is part of GovLoop’s ongoing blog series around one of our latest resources, Navigating the Digital Government Roadmap. In the guide, the most pressing technology trends are identified. The guide is intended to provide a broad spectrum of government technology. Our blog series will dive deeper into each section, so be sure to jump in with your experiences, and take a look at the guide. Also, be sure to check out our infographic: The Digital Government Strategy Timeline.

Data center consolidation is typically part of the cloud computing discussion, like cloud computing, there are significant advantages to consolidating data centers. There are dozens of case studies identifying the success that agencies are having with data center consolidation. One example of data center consolidation success comes from the Census Bureau, which was able to close a 6,750 facility and free up $1.7 million annually in operating costs. The Census Bureau strategy has allowed them to reduce data center power consumption in all of their data centers by 10%.

The Census Bureau is not alone, and due to the numerous successes reported by federal agencies, Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel has expanded his goals of closing redundant data centers. By the end of 2015, agencies plan to close nearly 1,080 data centers, surpassing goals set by the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative two years ago. Data center consolidation is a practical solution to cutting costs, increasing services, and improving efficiency for agencies.

In March, GovLoop hosted an in-person event, A Blueprint for Data Center Consolidation, one of the findings from the event can be found from my excerpt from the event:

“One of the comments was that data center consolidation could be looked at through 3 m’s: mandate, money, and motivation. All three are critical for the success of a data center consolidation initiative. Some participants expressed that since data center consolidation has been mandated, agencies have rushed into contracts without the proper planning or implementing the right process. There is no denying that one of the reasons consolidation has been taking off is due to promises of cost savings. Measuring costs savings is challenging, and there are lots of factors to consider. Agencies at all levels need to be provided with and grated access to the right financial information to make a decision on how to best enter in a contract and start a data consolidation initiative.” also states:

We now have a comprehensive inventory of all data centers varying in size. Although our baseline has increased, we are still committed to consolidate over 1200 data centers by the end of 2015 – a goal that requires us to continue aggressively rooting out duplication and waste. As of March 2012, updates reflect a shift from calendar year to fiscal year reporting. This dataset reflects information provided by the agencies. All questions or inquiries should be directed to the specific agencies.

The FY2010 through FY2013 dataset provides a list of planned or closed data centers by agency and by city/state location since the FDCCI started in February 2010. The Data Center Consolidation Task Force meets monthly to review the progress of each consolidation project and ensure government-wide alignment among agency efforts, where appropriate. The Task Force comprises data center program managers, facilities managers, and sustainability officers from 24 agencies that work together to share progress toward individual agency goals. As its work evolves, the Task Force will serve as a “community of practice” for agency CIOs and data center program managers to share best practices and enhance consolidation effectiveness. See collateral information about the FDCCI, including the definition of a data center and other FAQs at

Closing data centers is not a quick process. In the GovLoop Guide: Navigating the Digital Government Roadmap, we provide two best practices to start with while closing data centers.

Best Practice – Culture Change: Make it Personal

One of the key lessons for culture change and data center consolidation is to always make it personal. Top-level managers need to really show how implementing data center consolidation will make employees jobs easier, more efficient and help to achieve the goals of the agency.

Best Practice – Assessing Business Value: Tie to Mission

The first step for an agency considering data center consolidation is to look at the business value of new adoption or consolidation of services. Agencies should be sure to scope the project and make sure implementing the new technology makes sense for the agency. Likewise, when thinking about costs, agencies need to be sure that they identify total savings, and think critically about how the savings can be filtered back within the agency.

You can view the guide below, or be sure to visit our landing page for more information:

This page is brought to you by the GovLoop Technology Solutions Council. The mission of this council is to provide you with information and resources to help improve government. Visit the GovLoop Technology Solutions Council to learn more.

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