Federal Data Centers Are Closing Faster Than Cloud Providers Are Being Approved

FedRAMP isn’t keeping up with demand for cloud services.

According to Data.gov, the federal government has closed 382 data centers since February of 2010. The plan to close data centers and begin the move to the cloud was initiated by then U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra. Under Steven VanRoekel, current CIO, the General Services Administration (GSA) launched the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, better known as FedRAMP, to “standardize the basic security requirements that cloud computing providers, such as Google or Microsoft, will have to meet before receiving government contracts (Washington Post).” As of today, no cloud providers have been approved by FedRAMP, but the consolidation of data centers has been steady. The 2010 plan, designed to “shock the system,” has been reducing IT overhead for almost three years:

In February 2010, the Administration launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) and issued guidance for Federal CIO Council agencies. The guidance called for agencies to inventory their data center assets, develop consolidation plans throughout fiscal year 2010, and integrate those plans into agency fiscal year 2012 budget submissions.

The FDCCI is aimed at assisting agencies in identifying their existing data center assets and formulating detailed consolidation plans that include a technical roadmap and clear consolidation targets. The FDCCI will cut down the number of data centers across the government and assist agencies in applying best practices from the public and private sector, with goals to:

  • Promote the use of Green IT by reducing the overall energy and real estate footprint of government data centers
  • Reduce the cost of data center hardware, software, and operations
  • Increase the overall IT security posture of the government, and
  • Shift IT investments to more efficient computing platforms and technologies.

After an 8 month peer review process, we now know that the government is operating and maintaining almost 2,100 data centers. Through the FDCCI, a minimum of 800 data centers will be closed by 2015.

Download 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management on CIO.gov.

Why is the federal government closing data centers at such a rapid pace when the amount of data is increasing so fast? And until the GSA catches up with the demand for cloud providers, what should agencies be doing with their data?

Federal data centers expanded from just 432 in 1998 to more than 2,000 by 2010, prompting the need to examine wasteful use of energy and real estate. Many data centers are underutilized, leaving room for improvement before the government moves most of their data into the cloud.

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Dec 19 2012