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White House Aligns Data Center Consolidation, Sustainability

Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality will link infrastructure and carbon footprint reduction goals.

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The White House has aligned its data center consolidation plan with its efforts to promote sustainability across the federal government.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) will work together to extend existing sustainability efforts to the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), according to a blog post. The FDCCI is the official name for an OMB-led, government-wide initiative to drastically reduce the number of federal data centers that currently exist.

U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra and CEQ chair Nancy Sutley ordered a merger of the two efforts in an OMB memo dated Nov. 22.

Both sustainability and data center consolidation have been goals of the Obama administration's IT team, led by Kundra, from its outset. Until recently, however, the two strategies were not officially linked.

The memo now calls for agencies to review the data center targets outlined in the Obama administration's Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan to ensure that they are consistent with the latest data center consolidation plan each agency has submitted to the OMB.

The alignment also means that agency CIOs and strategic sustainability officers should begin working together to share best practices for how the efforts can converge, according to the memo.

The White House will continue to update agencies about the intersection of consolidation and sustainability plans throughout 2011, Kundra and Sutley said.

With promoting the use of green IT by reducing the overall energy consumption and real estate footprint of federal data centers is one of the goals of the FDCCI, there are obvious synergies between consolidation and sustainability, so it makes sense to join them.

"This curbed growth of data centers will have the beneficial effect of cutting energy use and costs, which helps the federal government meet the sustainability performance goals outlined in Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance," Kundra and Sutley wrote in the memo. Executive Order 13514, signed in October 2009, outlines current federal agency sustainability goals.

The OMB launched the FDCCI earlier this year, a move that was followed in June by a memo from President Obama ordering federal agencies to sell off data centers and other unnecessary properties. The administration also put a moratorium on agencies opening any new data centers.

A greener, more sustainable IT environment isn't the only benefit the government hopes to achieve by consolidating data centers. A recent survey by MeriTalk found that consolidation could potentially save the government $14.6 billion.

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