OMB looks to freeze out federal data centers

shutterstock id  628642592 By Gennady Danilkin 

As part of a new policy proposal, the Office of Management and Budget is putting new hurdles in place for agencies that want to acquire new or expand current physical data center facilities.

OMB is proposing a freeze on spending for new and updated facilities, according to a draft policy document from Federal CIO Suzette Kent published for comment on Nov. 26. Agencies that want to get around the freeze will have to submit written justification for new or expanded data centers and explain why managed services or some other cloud-based solution does not meet the use case.

The policy refresh is being put in place in part because the FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017 extended the Obama-era Federal Data Center Optimization Initiative through the end of fiscal year 2020. But Kent and policymakers at OMB are going after bigger game than just getting rid of boxes here and there.

"Agencies have seen little real savings from the consolidation of non-tiered facilities, small server closets, telecom closets, individual print and file servers, and single computers acting as servers," the policy states.

The updated policy recognizes that agencies have been successful in going after the "low-hanging fruit," the but the time has come for some budget controls to push agencies to look to the cloud, shared services and third party co-location for application and data hosting.

OMB also wants agencies to focus primarily on consolidation and closure of data centers and then address optimization, which includes virtualization and energy efficiency, which can yield long-term savings.

OMB's draft policy also updates agency metrics. Some have been removed -- facility utilization and energy efficiency -- in favor of new measures, such as virtualization, advanced energy metering, server utilization and availability.

It also strongly encourages agencies to replace manual reporting with automated monitoring, inventory and management tools so they can deliver the updated metrics. New contracts for data center services must include automated infrastructure management, "to the extent permissible under the Federal Acquisition Regulation," the policy states.

Comments on the new policy are due by Dec. 26, per a notice in the Federal Register.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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