Agencies continue to struggle with data center optimization

A total of 25 GAO recommendations regarding virtualization, availability, advanced energy metering and underutilized server metrics have gone unaddressed.

Some agencies continue to struggle optimizing their existing data centers due to technical and budget constraints, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday.

GAO found five out of 17 agencies reviewed failed to meet the Office of Management and Budget‘s metric for reducing the number of servers and mainframes serving as virtual hosts in their data centers, as well as increasing the amount of advanced energy metering covering their floorspace.

OMB’s Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) has agencies consolidate inefficient infrastructure, optimize what’s left and migrate to the cloud, with all 24 Chief Financial Officers Act agencies receiving an A grade for their performance on the most recent Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act scorecard in January. But data center closures and resulting cost savings should slow, making optimization — an area where agencies have yet to address 25 GAO recommendations — all the more important.

“Until agencies fully address all previous GAO recommendations to meet their optimization performance targets, they are unlikely to fully realize the expected benefits, including cost savings from DCOI,” reads GAO’s report.


In addition to virtualization and advanced energy metering metrics, four agencies failed to adequately use production servers in their data centers and one agency saw more data center downtime than OMB expects. A total of seven agencies were exempted from optimization by OMB.

To date, agencies have saved $6.6 billion consolidating and optimizing data centers since fiscal 2012. GAO’s report ran through August 2021 and found agencies had closed 51 data centers that fiscal year, for $335.88 million in savings, with 29 more closures planned and their cost savings goal well within reach.

But agencies expect only 83 more closures between 2022 and 2025 for $46.32 million in savings and will need to shift their focus toward unaddressed optimization metrics, according to the report.

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