IT Management

Data center savings hard to predict

NASA data center

Consolidating data centers saves money through reduced power use, lowered facility costs and a need for fewer employees, but just how much it will save the government is unclear. (Photo: NASA)

Federal agencies are on pace to meet data center consolidation requirements set forth by the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, but incomplete plans and cost estimate information may thwart plans to achieve the initiative’s promised cost savings.

The latest figures released by the Office of Management and Budget show that 382 agency data centers have been shut down under the initiative, which aims to close or consolidate roughly 1,200 of the nearly 2,900 identified date centers by 2015.

On the surface, the number of closures looks good, said David Powner, director of IT management issues at the Government Accountability Office, which released a report on data consolidation in July. However, Powner said agencies have not been forthcoming with information necessary to predict cost savings, so it is difficult to gauge what sort of savings are being realized.

Cost-savings estimates for the FDCCI have varied, with OMB predictions ranging from  $3 billion to $5 billion. In the GAO report, agencies predicted roughly $2.4 billion in savings.

“The effort is on pace from a closure perspective,” Powner said. “But given the lack of complete plans and cost-savings information, it is questionable whether it is on pace to achieve the $3 billion in savings that has been promised.”

Powner said agencies have not provided quality asset inventories, network infrastructure savings or power usage information, “which is directly tied to cost savings,” making it difficult to pinpoint hard cost savings data.

At the time of the report, only one agency – the Commerce Department – submitted a complete data center consolidation plan.  “Transparency on the completion of these plans could help,”Powner said.

Currently, the Department of Defense leads the way in data center closings with more than 100.

Calls to the DOD for specific comment on its data consolidation efforts were not returned by press time, nor were calls to the OMB, which has oversight of the data center consolidation. OMB expects agencies to offset data center consolidation costs through savings realized through increased efficiency – in hardware costs, energy usage and staffing required to operate and maintain the centers.

Powner said it is important to note that most data centers closed or consolidated thus far have been smaller data centers staffed in some cases by as few as one full-time employee or a half-time equivalent.  While the impact on the workforce has not been a big issue to date, Powner said, it soon will be as larger data centers begin to close.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Mon, Mar 9, 2015 EricE

People couldn't wait to drop the ITI LOB - yet without that kind of data, why is anyone surprised we can't measure savings? If you don't know where you started from how can you detect any change from where you ended up? The ITI LOB may have had problems - but at least it was an attempt to start to rationalize and account for real costs (including labor!). That it was painful was a symptom of more fundamental issues, not a sign that ITI LOB or efforts like it are bad and should have been stopped...

Tue, Nov 20, 2012

Any savings that may be achieved, will not show up for several years due to transitional costs. Ramping up a capacity increase for one datacenter has to be completed before closing datacenters can move their processing to the remaining DCs. This will initally show up as an increase in costs, and any savings realized will be showing up in future years.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group