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.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1996, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

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