Feds to advance data center marketplace for unused capacity

The Federal Data Center Consolidation Task Force will work to advance a data center marketplace, designed to let agencies leverage unused capacity, according to the analytical perspectives of President Barack Obama’s proposed fiscal 2013 federal budget.

During 2012-2013, the task force, an interagency body that drives consolidation within federal agencies, will also continue efforts to improve a total cost model that provides a consistent way to derive consolidation savings, and continue sharing best practices and lessons learned from the public and private sectors, the document states.

“In 2010-2011, the administration prioritized data center consolidation to maximize the effectiveness of federal IT assets and deliver improved return on investment for infrastructure,” the analysis states.

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By shutting down and optimizing data centers, the government can save billions of dollars, curb spending on underutilized infrastructure, focus more resources on modernizing services and reduce the cybersecurity threats, according to administration officials.

Agencies are committed to close nearly 1,100 data centers by 2015 with 525 of those closures expected to be completed by the end of 2012 (over 25 percent of these closed in 2011). “Consolidations are expected to save the government $3 billion by 2015, and result in more savings in the years beyond 2015,” the document states.

The Federal Cloud Computing Initiative, launched in 2009, is also an effort to eliminate duplicative systems and applications, fragmented resources and underutilized technology assets.

A cloud-first policy is an important aspect of the administration’s 25 Point Plan for IT reform. The policy requires agencies to evaluate safe, secure cloud computing options before making new investments. The aim is to shift government purchase of information technology from an “asset mindset to one of service delivery,” administration officials say.

To date, agencies reported that 40 services have already moved to the cloud, according to the document. “An additional 79 services are slated for transition by June 2012, and more than 50 legacy systems have been eliminated,” document states.

Examples of the push to the cloud include the Agriculture Department's migration of 120,000 users across 5,000 locations to the cloud, expected to reduce costs by $27 million over five years, and the General Services Administration, which has shifted 17,000 users to the cloud and anticipates savings of $15 million over five years.

In order to address security and data reliability issues, the administration has established the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). FedRAMP, which will become operational in June 2012, establishes a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization and continuous monitoring for cloud solutions.

“A do once, use many times” framework will help agencies reduce the cost, time and staff currently associated with conducting agency security assessments, the document notes.

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