New Initiative Continues Federal Data Center Optimization

Posted by Angie Petty on August 9, 2016

Small Businesses in Big Data

Last week, federal CIO Tony Scott, released the final version of the new Federal Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). The new initiative applies to the 24 CFO agencies including the Department of Defense and supersedes the former Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) that was launched in 2010. The memo sets a framework for achieving the data center consolidation and optimization requirements of FITARA, and is meant to refresh and refocus the federal data center strategy.  The plan also establishes criteria for successful data center efficiency plans and the metrics that OMB will use to measure successful implementation of these strategies.

The memo states, “The initiative requires agencies to implement strategies to consolidate inefficient infrastructure, optimize existing facilities, improve security posture, achieve cost savings, and transition to more efficient infrastructure, such as cloud services and inter-agency shared services.

The past FDCCI was launched to lower the energy and real estate footprint of government data centers; reduce the cost of data center hardware, software, and operations; shift IT investments to more efficient computing platforms; and increase the overall IT security posture of the government. The original initiative was to conclude at the end of FY 2015.

Since the launch of FDCCI, agencies have made a number of accomplishments, but progress has also been mixed.  According to a March GAO report regarding the progress of federal data center consolidation, agencies had closed 3,125 data centers through the end of FY 2015 and reported savings and cost avoidance of $2.8 billion from FY 2011 to FY 2015.  However, GAO identified 10 agencies that have closures planned for FY 2016 through FY 2018, but have not fully developed cost savings goals for these fiscal years.  Additionally, 22 agencies made limited progress against OMB’s FY 2015 data center optimization performance metrics, such as data center facility utilization.

The new data center optimization plan reflects FITARA by putting the responsibility for meeting new requirements and measuring progress on the shoulders of the agency CIO, who is to be responsible for all data center infrastructure and services, including those provided by third parties.

The plan also emphasizes migration to cloud and shared services.  “Consistent with the Cloud First policy, agencies shall use cloud infrastructure where possible when planning new mission or support applications or consolidating existing applications. Agencies should take into consideration the cost, elasticity, and resiliency benefits of provisioned environments when planning new mission or support applications,” the plan states.  The plan also establishes GSA’s Office of Government-wide Policy as a managing partner tasked with establishing and maintaining a data center shared services marketplace and coordinating shared services for inter-agency consumption.  

To help control data center sprawl, the memo states that starting six months after issuance, “agencies may not budget any funds or resources toward initiating a new data center or significantly expanding an existing data center without approval from OMB Office of the CIO.

During the time of the FDCCI, the definition of a data center evolved.  The new OMB plan further refines the definition of a data center to cover rooms with at least one server, but not rooms containing only print servers, routing equipment, security devices, switches or telecommunication components.  Data centers will also be classified as either tiered or non-tiered for purposes of the new optimization plan’s metrics and goals. Tiered data centers are defined as those that utilize separate physical space for IT infrastructure, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), an independent cooling system, and a backup power generator.

For tiered data centers, agencies will be required to install automated energy metering tools to collect and report to OMB data center energy usage by the end of FY 2018.  Existing tiered data centers will be required to achieve and maintain a 1.5 Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric by the end of FY 2018. New data centers will be required to maintain a PUE of at least 1.4, but are encouraged to design the data center to achieve a 1.2 PUE or less.

Additionally by the end of FY 2018, agencies will be required to use automated infrastructure management in lieu of manual collection and reporting of systems, software, and hardware inventory.

The plan sets forth goals for optimization to include energy metering, PUE, virtualization, server utilization and automated monitoring, and facility utilization. It also sets a goal of $2.7 billion in total savings to be achieved on physical data center spending by the end of FY 2018.  Finally, the new plan specifies the closing of at least 25% of tiered data centers government-wide and at least 60% of non-tiered data centers by the end of FY 2018.

Agencies will submit data quarterly regarding their progress toward data center optimization goals as part of the Integrated Data Collection (IDC) process. They will also include in their annual strategic plans their data center consolidation and optimization strategies. Beginning this year, OMB will make available on the IT Dashboard government-wide and agency-specific data showing progress toward data center goals.

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