data center optimization

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

Preparing for the Data Center Optimization Initiative

The federal government is on a mission to transform data centers by requiring agencies to shift IT investments to more efficient computing platforms and technologies. It's more of a marathon than a sprint, with the government gradually issuing mandates to ensure agencies are all working toward a more innovative and efficient future. While this change has been incremental, many government IT teams still struggle to understand the requirements and how to best approach change within their own agencies.

The evolution of government data center efficiency 

It all started nearly six years ago when the government launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative to promote the use of green IT. FDCCI provided guidelines on reducing the overall energy and real estate footprint of data centers and cutting the cost of data center hardware, software and operations -- while increasing the overall IT security posture of the federal government.

To build upon the requirements of the FDCCI, President Obama later signed into law the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, requiring agencies to submit comprehensive data center inventories, multiyear consolidation/optimization strategies, performance metrics, a timeline for agency activities and yearly calculations of investment and cost savings. Additionally, FITARA requires the administrator of the Office of E-Government and Information Technology to establish and publish cost savings and optimization improvements, as well as review agencies’ data center inventories and implementation.

The Data Center Optimization Initiative

This brings us to present day. As of Aug. 1, 2016, the FDCCI was superseded by the Data Center Optimization Initiative. DCOI requires agencies to “develop and report on data center 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,” as stated in a recent memorandum.

Agencies may feel as though they just got a handle on the FDCCI requirements and now have more mandates to meet. DCOI requires the following by Sept. 30, 2018:

  • Advanced energy metering must be installed and energy usage accurately reported to the Office of Management and Budget.
  • Existing data centers must operate at a power usage effectiveness (PUE) rate of 1.5 or below or potentially be shuttered by the deadline.
  • Manual reporting is no longer acceptable, and data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools must be implemented for automated monitoring and operations.

Achieving compliance with PUE and DCIM solutions

With the right tools in place, government agencies will not only meet the DCOI mandates, they’ll also experience greater efficiency, sustainability and cost savings. According to a recent blog published by the White House, the initiative aims  to reduce annual costs associated with federal data centers by at least 25 percent by the end of fiscal year 2018.

DCIM solutions can help pave the way for cost savings and compliance, so organizations that have already implemented the tool are on the right track. However, while DCIM simplifies, automates and manages critical infrastructure in and around the data center, DCIM alone does not necessarily equal an accurate PUE calculation.

In addition to DCIM, a comprehensive assessment strategy with PUE measurement is needed to optimize data center operations and promote a more sustainable IT ecosystem. Assessment solutions can gather information about power consumption and feed it into DCIM software for accurate measurement and reporting. By monitoring all the elements in the power chain -- from generators, power inputs of the mechanical chillers, switchgear, incoming power and lighting to racks and servers -- organizations can create an accurate power profile, discover areas for improvement and ensure compliance.

In addition to improving efficiency in existing data centers, DCOI’s consolidation goal requires agencies to close at least 25 percent of their tiered data centers and 60 percent of their non-tiered data centers (i.e. server rooms). With an assessment strategy, data center managers can identify which data centers can be consolidated for maximum efficiency gains. Once the data center is identified, infrastructure improvements, such as integrated, high-density, high-efficiency IT room systems, should be considered. This specific technological upgrade benefits all parts of the operation by increasing availability and agility while keeping costs low and promoting a more sustainable future in the data center.

The Sept. 30, 2018, DCOI deadline will be here before you know it, and becoming an early adopter of DCIM and PUE solutions will help ensure your data center’s survival. The road to compliance can be long for federal data center managers, but preparing for what lies ahead today will enable you to become a leader in the IT ecosystem of tomorrow.

About the Author

Jeffrey Chabot is director, Government Segment Strategy, APC by Schneider Electric.

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