Data center consolidation among 70 amendments competing for cybersecurity bill inclusion

As the Senate prepares to consider the bipartisan Cybersecurity Act of 2012 a number of amendments are being tacked on, including one addressing federal data center consolidation.

The cybersecurity legislation – the latest version a compromise bill that was announced July 24 – now has more than 70 amendments, according to Senate floor remarks from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who introduced the bill. He urged senators to refrain from adding amendments not pertinent to cybersecurity issues.

One amendment, filed by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), targets enforcement of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, which was launched last year by the Office for Personnel Management. The plan was designed to shutter at least 1,100 of the government’s roughly 3,000 data centers and was pegged at more than $2 billion in savings.

The amendment would put further weight behind the initiative, which some agencies have been slow to implement, according to a July 31 release from Bennet’s office.

“There are commonsense steps we can take right now to cut the deficit, reduce waste and make the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” Bennet said in the release. “The Administration has already identified this as a cost saving measure that will help reduce spending on IT needs, energy consumption, and real estate. This amendment will require the federal agencies to get the job done.”

The amendment would mandate that agencies submit to OMB a complete inventory and consolidation plan for their data centers, as well as provide annual updates on progress over the next five years, among other provisions aimed at accountability.

According to Bennet’s office, the amendment would “conserve energy, save taxpayer dollars and reduce government waste.”

The Senate is slated to take up the bill this week, although it’s not clear when exactly that will happen, as Senate Democrats and Republicans are working toward an agreement on the amendments that will make it into the legislation.

In other news related to the pending cybersecurity bill, TechAmerica in a July 30 letter to Senate leaders, announced support for the bill and laid out recommended priorities for the Senate to consider.

Shawn Osborne, TechAmerica’s president and CEO, endorsed parts of the bill addressing FISMA reform; research and development; education, workforce and awareness improvement; and international cooperation.

He outlined refinements to the bill that would expand on the bill’s measures addressing public-private partnership in securing critical infrastructure, information-sharing and network monitoring.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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Reader comments

Mon, Aug 6, 2012

Is anyone else worried about a single point of failure related to all of this proposed data center consolidation?

Wed, Aug 1, 2012

Our experience so far has been an anticipated slight increase in overall annual (recurring) costs. There is also the substantial one time cost as well. Unfortunately our DCC provider hasn't provided their costs yet so we really have no idea. We assume that since our costs are very efficient they will be equal to us (commercial pricing indicates costs will increase but... the government can do it for less :)

The reason the cost goes up in the long term is because our application developers now have to coordinate with non-local resources. There is no savings to existing on-site systems because we can't decommission any of them (sure a VM here and possibly a blade or 2 there). The infrastructure itself has to remain to sustain the capabilities the DCC cannot take. A substantial part of our infrastructure is keep-the-lights on things (vulnerability scanning, patch management, domain controllers, monitoring, authentication verification, host based security) and the rest can't move because of the required proximity to engineers and their military representative systems. DCCs only save money if 1) the infrastructure hasn't been updated to virtualized/SAN/blade systems and you are now avoiding the cost of doing so (or you foolishly just want to replace pizza boxes with more pizza boxes) or 2) they take everything a site has (not practical in many cases). The cost savings of these measures are grossly overestimated. Just like many previous initiatives there are reasons to do it (centralized management, consistent policy, etc.). Cost isn't one of them.

Wed, Aug 1, 2012

Data center lobbyists trying to get money mandated by law re-directed to them.

Wed, Aug 1, 2012 Paul

My problem is that decision are being made on these systems without consideration on mission impact. Many systems cannot or should not be consolidated and some redundancy is necessary for COOP. So far it hasn't been much more than an inconvenience for us, although an expensive one since plans have had to be revised. I'm just concerned that at some point we will be crippled by this, putting our troops in danger.

Wed, Aug 1, 2012

Data center consolidation is more hype than substance, since most of them are in government-owned space anyway. Still have to provide utilities and security even if the space is sitting empty. 'Rent' paid from one federal agency to another doesn't really exist- it is just an accounting fiction. And if the space is empty, the landlord agency will just raise the 'rent' on the remaining footprint.

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