Federal data center consolidation efforts move forward, but obstacles remain

Data center consolidation is a popular topic among IT leaders in every industry. There is a growing appreciation of the need to pursue these efforts as a means of cutting costs while expanding organizations' computing and cloud integration capabilities.

This trend is not limited to the private sector. Government agencies also realize that data center consolidation holds significant potential advantages, and many departments are currently pursuing plans to this end. However, organizational obstacles are preventing government bodies from fully benefiting from data center consolidation's potential.

Congressional action
Recently, Congress took action in this area, as the House of Representatives' chief administrative office issued a request for proposal for expanded data center space and operations. This proposal is part of a broader effort to consolidate operations from multiple agencies into a single multi-tenant data center, as Data Center Knowledge explained.

In this particular case, the agencies that could potentially take advantage of the new, consolidated data center include the Library of Congress, Congressional Budget Office, Government Accountability Office and Government Printing Office. The new data center will need to support day-to-day operations, disaster recovery and business continuity efforts. The news source noted that by consolidating their data center efforts, Congress – and other government organizations – can likely cut costs while maintaining reliability. 

Inventory issues
However, despite this recent move toward data center consolidation, federal efforts in this area continue to exhibit mixed progress. A big part of the reason why, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report, is the lack of effective inventory efforts. Government agencies' records are lacking, which makes it difficult to assess the extent and benefits of consolidation throughout various agencies. 

Although the specifics are lacking, it is clear that the federal government is moving toward data center consolidation. The GAO found that agencies are on pace to save $5.3 billion through 2017 thanks to the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative. 

"We're trying to promote adoption of private sector best practices and best practices in government," said Justice Department CIO Joseph Klimavicz, who chairs the FDCCI, the Federal Times reported. "It's about return on investment [in the private sector]. We need to do the same thing in government."

To continue to see such gains, agencies need to approach data center consolidation more strategically and with greater organization. To this end, partnering with third-party consulting firms may be extremely beneficial.