Aug 23 2016
Data Center

Optimization Strategy Aims to Shutter Half of Federal Data Centers

Recently released IT guidelines mandate agencies to consolidate data centers through colocation, cloud services and virtualization.

The White House has finalized a new data center optimization strategy that requires federal agencies to continue to consolidate data centers and use more efficient infrastructure to save money and boost IT security.

The Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) replaces the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), which in 2010 mandated agencies to close down data centers. That original initiative resulted in the closure of 1,900 data centers and nearly $1 billion in savings, according to a recent White House blog post from federal CIO Tony Scott.

The updated guidelines require agencies to meet new consolidation, energy-efficiency and cost-reduction goals over the next three years. Scott, who released a draft of the new policy in March, issued a final version of the DCOI guidelines in an 11-page memorandum on Aug. 1.

“In the years since the launch of the FDCCI, we’ve witnessed enormous progress optimizing the federal government’s data center inventory,” Scott wrote in his blog post. “The Data Center Optimization Initiative continues and builds upon this progress and ensures robust implementation of the data center provisions of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA).”

New Consolidation Goals

DCOI will require agencies to use more efficient infrastructure and consolidate data centers by increasing their use of virtualization, and by adopting cloud services or migrating to interagency shared services or colocation data centers. Agencies can also consolidate by migrating IT operations to more optimized data centers in their inventory.

The new initiative defines data centers in two ways: tiered data centers, which are full-fledged facilities with an uninterruptible power supply, cooling system and generator; and nontiered data centers, which are everything else, such as a server in a room.

Agencies will be required to close at least 25 percent of tiered data centers government-wide and 60 percent of non-tiered data centers government-wide by the end of fiscal year 2018.

By Sept. 1, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will share with individual agencies the specific number of tiered and nontiered data centers they must close.

DCOI is expected to lead to agencies using more cloud services. It will also likely push agencies to retrain to IT staff members who have been running data centers that will be shuttered as a result of the initiative. 

Optimization Metrics

To comply with DCOI, agencies will have to meet five metrics for tiered data centers by Sept. 30, 2018. Those metrics are:

  • Install energy-metering tools in all tiered data centers to measure power consumption. 
  • Maintain a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) score of less than 1.5, but preferably less than 1.2. 
  • House at least four virtual servers per physical server.
  • Use at least 80 percent of a tiered data center’s floor space.
  • Achieve a server utilization rate of at least 65 percent.

DCOI also requires agencies to develop annual strategic plans on optimization and consolidation and report quarterly on progress.

No New Data Centers Allowed

Starting in late January 2017 (180 days after the Aug. 1 memorandum was issued), agencies are not allowed to budget any funds or resources toward a new data center or data center expansion without OMB’s approval.

To get approval, agencies must justify their reasoning. For example, an acceptable justification is an agency planning to consolidate multiple existing data centers with one new fully optimized data center.

Cost Savings

According to the blog post, the federal government ultimately hopes DCOI will eliminate 52 percent of the remaining data centers by the end of fiscal year 2018; that would reduce the government’s total data center floor space by 31 percent and result in $2.7 billion in cost savings and cost avoidances.

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