Kundra: 'Golden source' of data center savings due in the fall

Agency reports set to be published Oct. 7 will yield the most detailed information to date about consolidation's expected cost savings.

Agency data center consolidation plans, slated for publication online in October, will yield the most comprehensive information to date about expected cost savings associated with the projects, Federal CIO Vivek Kundra told attendees at an event on Capitol Hill July 27.

“Oct. 7 is when agencies will publish online detailed plans that will spell out exactly how much money they are going to save,” Kundra said. “Agencies are making sure information they’re putting out there is timely and accurate and they want to make sure that they vet all information,” he said, adding that agency managers want to make sure they are not inadvertently compromising security.

Kundra spoke at an event hosted by his office and Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security.


Related coverage:

Kundra lays out deadlines for data center consolidation


The event included a panel of federal, state and private-sector IT officials who spoke about the status of consolidation efforts and advantages of moving to cloud computing infrastructures.

Federal agencies are required to close 800 of the government’s 2,094 data centers by 2015,  with the goal of saving $3 billion annually. Kundra recently announced that a total of 373 federal data centers will be closed by the end of 2012.

The Capitol Hill event came on the heels of a report by the Government Accountability Office stating that agencies are far behind in consolidation efforts and need to complete inventories and develop plans to achieve expected savings.

The Office of Management and Budget required 25 participating agencies to submit data center inventories and consolidation plans by the end of August 2010 when OMB launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative earlier that year.

OMB provided guidance on key elements to include in the inventories and plans -- such as hardware and software assets, goals, schedules and cost-benefit calculations.

However, only one of the agencies submitted a complete inventory and no agency submitted complete plans, the GAO report states.

“Further, OMB did not require agencies to document the steps they took, if any, to verify the inventory data. For example, in their inventories, 14 agencies do not provide a complete listing of data centers and 15 do not list all of their software assets,” according to the report.

“The reason for these gaps, according to several agency officials, was that they had difficulty completing their inventories and plans within OMB's timelines,” the GAO report states. The report goes on to say that “until these inventories and plans are complete, agencies may not be able to implement their consolidation activities and realize expected cost savings.”

Moreover, OMB cannot be assured that agencies are providing a sound baseline for estimating consolidation savings and measuring progress against those goals, according to the GAO report, which was requested by the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

“We agree fully that agencies historically have not done a good job in terms of keeping good accounting of all their data centers, all of their assets and what is going on in terms of asset utilization,” Kundra said, commenting on the GAO report during the Capitol Hill event.

“Frankly, that was one of the biggest challenges and that is what worried me from a cybersecurity perspective; that there wasn’t a simple accounting of all the data centers that each department had,” Kundra noted.

The GAO study was right-on in terms of making sure that agencies are collecting a proper set of inventory information, he said. However, the study was going on at the same time – mid-stream – as agencies were collecting inventory data for OMB, he said. GAO conducted the performance audit from August 2010 to July 2011.

“I would point you to the Oct. 7 plans that are going to be published," Kundra said. Those plans are going “to be the golden source of data around cost savings, around every data center that agencies own [and provide] a very specific road map for which data centers will be shut down by 2015,” he said.

The GAO report also recognizes that state governments have undertaken data center consolidation initiatives and have encountered similar challenges as federal agencies. To that end, the report gives some lessons learned from state agencies that could be leveraged at the federal level.

“For example, a West Virginia official reported that since the state had no funding for data center consolidation, it used the natural aging cycle of hardware to force consolidation; that is, when a piece of hardware was ready to be replaced, the new applications and software were put onto a consolidated server,” the GAO report states.

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