Feds Must Detail Data Center Consolidations By October

Agencies will have to publish their plans online by October 7, according to a new memo by outgoing federal CIO Vivek Kundra.
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As part of a government-wide data center consolidation initiative, federal agencies must publish the details of their data center consolidation plans on their public Websites by October 7. A new directive by outgoing federal CIO Vivek Kundra lays out the next set of deadlines and steps in the government's effort.

Last week, Kundra publicly announced that the federal government was ahead of schedule in its consolidation efforts and would close 195 data centers by the end of 2011, as opposed to the 137 it had earlier targeted to eliminate this year.

For agencies, the consolidation plans required elements will include quarterly schedules of closures that go through fiscal 2015, details of challenges experienced to date, and lessons learned.

Upon publishing their plans, the next big step for agencies will be to provide details on cost savings, changes in asset inventories, and consolidation progress in fiscal 2013 budget submissions, which will be due within the next several months.

The Federal Data Center Consolidation Task Force, an inter-agency group that's responsible for sharing best practices across the government, will publish a report by next March that will detail the adoption of data center consolidation best practices by federal agencies.

Kundra's memo also laid out the responsibilities of the task force. In addition to cost modeling, Kundra said the group will focus on technical best practices, guidelines for consolidation, the nexus of cloud computing and data center consolidation, and coordination of the data center consolidation initiative with green government and federal real estate initiatives.

The task force will also be responsible, along with the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget, for creating a government-wide marketplace for spare data center capacity. Kundra first announced his plans for sharing excess data center capacity in his 25-point IT transformation agenda released last December, but there's been little additional information released on just what such a marketplace would entail. Even so, the memo sets a June 9, 2012 deadline for the marketplace's opening.

By 2015, the federal government is looking to shutter more than 800 data centers, or about 40% of the government's data center count. The initiative will reverse a spike in federal data center growth that saw the number of federal data centers climb from 432 in 1998 to more than 2,000 in 2011. In all, the government plans to close 14 football fields-worth of data center space around the country, from such far-flung places as Tomah, Wisc., to Pocatello, Id.

The White House estimates the effort will save taxpayers $3 billion, but it will also require a bit of spending: GSA is hosting an industry day next month so vendors can present their thoughts on data center consolidation to the federal government.

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