IT Management

GSA consolidates data centers, IT ops

data center

As part of the consolidation of IT operations under its CIO in Washington, D.C., the General Services Administration shut down more than three dozen data centers in fiscal 2013 with an eye toward reducing its electricity and real estate costs.

On Oct. 29, the agency said it would centralize IT operations from its 11 regions across the country, including the national capital region, under CIO Casey Coleman. The move, it said, is part of GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini's efforts to cut costs, eliminate redundancies and improve services for federal agencies and the public. All regional IT personnel will report to Coleman's office, said a GSA spokesperson.

The agency also said it had closed 37 data centers around the country as part of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative. The FDCCI is one of the "Big Five" federal plans – data center consolidation, mobility, security, big data and cloud computing—aimed at bringing overall federal IT costs down. FDDCI's goal is a 40-percent reduction in the number of duplicative and underused data centers across the government by 2015.

The 37 non-core data centers GSA closed, which represents 32 percent of the total it had at the start of the process, was an aggressive goal, according to the agency.  

Additionally, the agency said all of its IT contracting will be handled by the Washington, D.C., IT office. Previously, regional IT managers had handled contracting for their areas independently, the GSA spokeswoman said.

"Instead of having several CIOs serving each individual business line, or having IT staff reporting into a different program office, those resources will not be located in a new GSA IT office under the GSA CIO," the agency said in a statement. "Having a centralized GSA IT office will improve access to technology services."

The move to consolidate and centralize operations directly under Coleman was praised by observers.

"She is smart and well-respected in the CIO community," said Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners. "She has a great team working for her that understands federal IT needs. She is organized and has a good sense of how things should be run. The unique challenge could be that GSA puts its contracts in place primarily for other agencies to use, so keeping that customer-facing stance will be important."

GSA is not the only federal entity shutting down data centers.

At the Defense Department, data center consolidation has been an ongoing process as the Pentagon seeks ways to streamline operations and generate efficiencies. In January 2011, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered numerous consolidations as part of sweeping budgetary reforms.

Since then, the Defense Information Systems Agency has taken a leadership role in DOD's data center consolidation efforts. The agency established less than a dozen centralized core data centers that allow the Pentagon to whittle down the hundreds spread across the country by transferring operations to DISA's Defense Enterprise Computing Centers (DECCs).

DISA announced further progress in the consolidation efforts with the closure of data center operations at Dayton, Ohio, and Chambersburg, Pa. The functions of those centers were transferred to the DECCs as of Oct. 1, according to DISA.

"DISA and the military departments are aggressively consolidating their data centers and information technology infrastructure," the release stated. "This consolidation will establish a core computing infrastructure that provides assured and ubiquitous access to vital enterprise services and aggregates computing services and infrastructure requirements to gain economic efficiencies of scale."

About the Authors

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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


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