Jul 18 2014

DISA Estimates Millions in Data Center Savings

The agency has shuttered eight of its Defense Enterprise Computing Centers and projects savings of $17 million annually.

The Defense Information Systems Agency has reaped a multi-million dollar return on its data center consolidation effort, and the savings are still rolling in.

DISA estimates that it saves $17 million annually, thanks to an aggressive plan that includes shuttering eight Defense Enterprise Computing Centers (DECCs) since 2008, the agency announced earlier this week.

In May, DISA closed a DECC in Huntsville, Ala., which is projected to save $3.2 million a year. The functions of that facility have been realigned, including transfer of the Department of Defense Enterprise Email to other DECCs.

The move is part of a larger governmentwide effort to consolidate thousands of data centers and gain operational efficiencies as well as cost savings. A recent Meritalk survey of 150 federal IT decision-makers found that “72 percent of Federal IT managers said their agency has maintained or increased their number of data centers since [the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative] FDCCI launched in 2010. Only 6 percent gave their agency an “A” for consolidation efforts against FDCCI’s 2015 deadline.”

But there are a few facts worth noting. Since FDCCI launched, the Office of Management and Budget has changed its definition of a data center to include smaller facilities and it has also changed the governmentwide goal.

David Powner with the Government Accountability Office told House lawmakers last May that OMB’s new goal is to close 40 percent of the government’s non-core data. At the time, OMB had not defined what constitutes a core and non-core data center, according to Powner’s written testimony. “Therefore, the total number of data centers to be closed under OMB’s revised goal cannot be determined.”

For DoD, data center consolidation also plays a major role in providing seamless access to the enterprise resources, such as cloud-based email, and producing greater economic efficiencies, according to DISA. “It also supports the adoption of the Joint Information Environment (JIE), a major Department of Defense (DoD) initiative to provide a consolidated, collaborative, and secure JIE.”

The underlying success of data center consolidation requires DoD components to consolidate thousands of applications.

Army Clamps Down on Application Sprawl

Under Secretary of the Army Brad Carson issued a June memo that requires the service to migrate all enterprise applications and systems to core data centers by the end of fiscal 2018. So far, the Army has terminated about 800 of its 11,000 apps, reports Army News Service.

The Army’s plan includes consolidating apps into cloud-based environments hosted by DISA and the private sector. But that’s easier said than done, considering the vast amount of data associated with each app that must be migrated as well, Neal Shelley, chief of the Army Data Center Consolidation Division, told Army News Service. In some cases, that data may have been collected over 20 years, and the application owners and everyone involved have to be on the same page.

Shelley said replacing redundant and inefficient apps with enterprise apps can quickly yield cost savings, but calculating those savings can be challenging. The Army’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, G-6, is tracking more than 11,000 Army apps to get a handle on what’s included in that inventory.

Local apps with a special purpose, such as powering parts of the Army's industrial base, research labs or medical equipment will likely remain on local servers and not move to an enterprise level.

As for the data centers that house Army applications, the service expects to consolidate more than 1,100 facilities. Data.gov provides a list of government data centers that have been closed since 2010.