Consolidation

Data center savings hard to track

data center cages

While the effort to consolidate data centers is proceeding with some success, significant challenges are impeding progress. (Stock image)

While agencies are closely tracking data center closings, confusion clearly lingers over expected cost savings and why consolidation is not happening faster under the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative.

“Ultimately, it’s about getting to the point where we’re saving money, and that’s where there hasn’t been a lot of transparency at the moment in data center consolidation,” David Powner, director of IT management issues at the Government Accountability Office, told FCW.

Powner was one of several federal officials, including federal CIO Steven VanRoekel, who testified at a Jan. 22 hearing before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, responding to lawmakers on the merits of data center consolidation.

In responding to a question from Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.),  VanRoekel said that while it would be ideal if agencies were moving rapidly to the cloud, capital expenditures are too high for some agencies to do so on a large scale. Instead they save money over time by getting rid of the “low-hanging fruit” and investing those savings for the gradual optimization of systems.

Resource

Interactive map: Data center closures by the numbers

But tracking savings is difficult, Powner said, because most agencies have not reported asset inventories, data on network infrastructure savings or power use information – all things vital to predicting cost savings.

The only agency to come forward publicly with projected savings from data center consolidation is the Defense Department, Powner said, which has closed 114 data centers since 2010.

The agency now projects a $2.2 billion savings due to its data center consolidation, an enormous portion of the $3 billion to $5 billion the Office of Management and budget estimated FDCCI would save governmentwide by 2015.

Powner said if the DOD alone estimates $2.2 billion in savings from closing and consolidating data centers, “you’d think there would be more savings out there” for other agencies, though exactly how much remains unclear.

“There is certainly the potential for expected savings to grow,” Powner said.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 IT Dude

In direct coordination to calculating savings, one factor towards those calculations should be the productivity of the customers those systems support. A generic rule of thumb is, "a computer system and/or program should be designed to minimize repetition for the customer, and free them up to be more productive in putting out more product". While I agree with consolidation of data centers, I sometimes fear the idea is a little bit overboard. If you centralize too much, yes, you can save a lot on equipment. But you might also cost the customer you support a great deal of productivity. If a customer is running a report and with his current site it only takes him 20 minutes to run it, then his system gets centralized to a completely different location, with bandwidth delays, that report very often increases 2 to 3 fold, putting that report now at 40-60 minutes (and often times even longer than that) to run. Yes, we saved in IT resources but we just killed the productivity of those whom the systems support. A well thought out balance should be considered, and all costs should be factored.

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