data center (Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com)

Agencies on track for data center optimization

In its annual assessment of data center consolidation and optimization progress, the Government Accountability Office reported almost all the 24 agencies participating in the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) are making progress toward their goals, expecting $6.24 billion in total cost savings and avoidances from fiscal years 2012 through 2020.

According to the March 4 GAO report, in 2020 all 24 agencies reported progress meeting the goals of the Office of Management and Budget, which is planning to close 230 centers and save $1.1 billion over two years.

As of March 2020, 23 of the 24 agencies reported that they had met or exceeded their DCOI closure and cost savings goals by closing a total of 122 data centers in fiscal year 2019. The Defense Department only closed 33 of 39 planned data center closures in 2019 because of delays to the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud initiative, Defense officials stated told GAO. By January 2021, DOD was back on track, having shuttered a total of 245 centers.

All agencies report being on schedule for meeting or exceeding fiscal 2020 closure and savings goals.

When it comes to the 2019 optimization goals, progress was mixed. The metrics, which are applicable to agency-owned tiered data centers, address virtualization, advanced energy metering, underutilized servers and data center availability. Of the 19 agencies with applicable data centers, most (17) met the availability metric, which measures the ratio of uptime to downtime. The agencies were about evenly split on the others, with nine or 10 agencies not delivering on each of the other metrics. In 2020, performance improved, with multiple agencies meeting more optimization targets than in 2019.

GAO pointed to two issues that it said were clouding the results.

In June 2019, OMB narrowed the definition of a data center so that it excluded approximately 4,500 facilities it had previously identified as having potential cybersecurity risks. GAO has been recommending OMB require agencies to report those excluded facilities to retain visibility of risks, but it has not taken action to address the recommendation, the report said.

Additionally, OMB’s 2019 revision of the server utilization metric directed agencies to develop their own underutilization definitions, which resulted in different or Inconsistent approaches and delivered an incomplete picture of utilization, GAO said.

In its recommendations, GAO called on agencies to address the 125 data center consolidation recommendations it has made since 2016 that have not yet been implemented. It also recommended the OMB director re-examine its DCOI guidance regarding how to measure server utilization and revise it to better and more consistently address server efficiency.

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