Policy

A new goal for data center consolidation?

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Federal agencies will submit updated numbers on their data center closures on Feb. 28 as part of their integrated data collection reports, and those numbers will be published March 14 on Data.gov, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

When OMB rolled the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) into PortfolioStat last March, agencies were told they no longer had to submit quarterly data center consolidation reports to OMB.

Instead, the integrated data collection reports "will draw on information previously reported under PortfolioStat, the FDCCI, the federal Digital Government Strategy, quarterly Federal Information Security Management Act metrics, the federal IT Dashboard, and selected human resource, financial management and procurement information requested by OMB," according to guidance OMB issued last March.

When it launched FDCCI in 2010, OMB's initial goal was to close 40 percent of the federal government's data centers -- then estimated at about 3,133 -- by 2015.

But the government's total number of data centers was drastically underreported until July 2013, when congressional testimony and information from the Government Accountability Office revealed that nearly 7,000 data centers were in operation.

An OMB spokesperson told FCW at the time that OMB had expanded its definition of a data center and that agencies were categorizing data centers as "core" or "non-core." OMB changed the definition in 2012 from "any room greater than 500 square feet devoted to data processing" to "a closet, room, floor or building for the storage, management, and dissemination of data and information." Such a repository would, according to OMB's new definition, "house computer systems and associated components, such as database, application, and storage systems and data stores."

Sources told FCW that about 6,000 of the government's data centers are considered non-core. According to OMB's March 2013 memo, the government "will continue to plan to close 40 percent of agency-identified, non-core data centers," which means the government's unofficial target for closures would jump to about 2,400.

As of October 2013, the government was nowhere near closing 2,400 data centers. It had shut down 640, with 470 more scheduled to close by September 2014. OMB's guidelines state that agencies will "also be measured by the extent to which their core data centers are optimized for total cost of ownership. To enable this, the FDCCI Task Force shall develop energy, facility, labor, storage, virtualization and cost per operating system metrics."

Presumably, agencies will provide that information in their reports, but it is unclear whether the task force or OMB has given agencies metrics for measuring optimization. In May, GAO released a report that criticized OMB and the task force for, among other things, not developing proper metrics to track FDCCI cost savings across government.

OMB did not respond to requests by FCW to comment on whether it had come up with metrics for documenting savings from non-core data center closures or core data center optimization. Officials at GAO were not aware of any metrics that had been released by OMB for those purposes.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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