GSA considers data-center optimization

As part of the government’s move to make information technology environments more energy-efficient, the General Services Administration is conducting an analysis that could serve as the basis of a data-center optimization effort.

Data-center services are already part of the governmentwide Networx telecommunications and network contract. The optimization effort would expand on that, said John Johnson, assistant commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service's Office of Integrated Technology Services.

GSA is partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department on the possible initiative, Johnson said May 20 at the Green Computing Summit sponsored by Federal Computer Week’s parent company, 1105 Government Information Group.

“The plan is due as soon as possible,” he said.

Agencies could make data centers more energy efficient by consolidating the number of centers and optimizing the number of servers within centers by having one machine run several virtual servers, Johnson said. Servers are typically idle 85 percent of the time, he added.

“Data centers are a major contributor to carbon emissions,” he said. “By making data centers green, we could cut $1 billion over five years” in freed space, reduced power usage, and lower costs for setup, support and maintenance.

Agencies began working on energy-efficient projects after President Bush issued an executive order in January 2007 requiring that they improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, buy more alternative energy and enhance water conservation. Agencies must report on their progress and results.

Johnson’s team is also working with employees who manage GSA programs, such as Schedule 70 and GSA Advantage, to determine how the agency can best market its energy-efficient products and services.

GSA sells about $17 billion worth of goods and services, and the agency and its partners are developing a definition of efficiency so customers can be assured of what they are buying, Johnson said.

“One of the biggest challenges in the government going green is how to coalesce all the cooperation to make it happen on a large scale,” he said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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