White House gets tougher on data centers in new policy

The White House finalized a policy Monday that forbids agencies from budgeting funds toward the creation or expansion of data centers, with few exceptions.

The White House finalized a policy Monday that forbids agencies from budgeting funds toward the creation or expansion of data centers, with few exceptions.

The Office of Management and Budget implemented the Data Center Optimization Initiative, introduced as a draft plan in March, to supersede the 2010 Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, building on the previous policy’s framework for making IT spending more efficient.

The DCOI requires that agencies wishing to put resources toward the expansion or building of a data center must request approval from federal CIO Tony Scott and include an analysis of alternative options and how doing so would result in a net reduction of the agency’s data center inventory.

As set forth in the prior FDCCI policy, agencies must continue to reduce data center inventory to “essential enterprise levels.” The new policy defines data centers as “rooms with at least one server, providing services (whether in a production test, staging, development, or any other environment) but not “rooms containing only print servers, routing equipment, switches, security devices (such as firewalls), or other telecommunications components.”


Based on this definition, agencies must complete a review of their data center inventory by Aug. 31.

Scott in a blog post touted the “enormous progress” the federal government has made reducing its data center footprint since 2010.

“Agencies have closed over 1,900 data centers, reducing the real estate footprint of Federal data centers by more than 1.2 million square feet, and made significant strides toward optimizing existing data centers,” he wrote. “These efforts have resulted in nearly $1 billion in savings and a Federal data center inventory that is more efficient, effective, and secure. ”

The new policy cites the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act as a driving force, holding CIOs accountable for “implementing and measuring progress toward meeting the goals set forth in this memorandum.”

Particularly, the DCOI holds CIOs to meet stringent goals around consolidation and optimization. In the next three years, agencies must close at least 25 percent of their tiered data centers — centers with separate physical space, uninterruptible power supply, dedicated cooling systems and a backup generator — and 60 percent of non-tiered data centers, which are smaller systems, like server rooms and nodes.


“This target will result in the closure of approximately 52% of the overall Federal data center inventory and a reduction of approximately 31% in the real estate footprint occupied by data centers Government-wide,” Scott wrote.

Likewise, the policy calls for agencies to reduce annual data center costs by at least 25 percent by fiscal year 2018, estimating a savings of $2.7 billion if achieved.

Agencies must also achieve optimization targets in five other areas, according to Scott: “installation of energy metering to track power consumption; a power usage effectiveness (PUE) target to improve energy efficiency; virtualization and server utilization metrics to ensure IT equipment is being utilized efficiently; and a facility utilization metric to drive more efficient use of space in Federal data centers.

To get there, OMB has called on the General Services Administration to provide a marketplace of shared services so that agencies of any size, with any budget can strive for these goals.

GSA will provide a Data Center Infrastructure Management Tool Assessment to help agencies access tools “to monitor, measure, manage and/or control data center utilization and energy consumption of all IT-related equipment,” and share other best practices to help agencies comply with the policy.


“The marketplace will ensure an even playing field for customers to learn about and negotiate services with providers,” GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth said in a statement.

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