Navy takes aim at software, server spending

Tuesday - 1/18/2011, 7:04pm EST

Jared Serbu, Reporter, Federal News Radio

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By Jared Serbu
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The Navy has set targets and deadlines as it attempts to do its part for Defense Department and governmentwide information technology streamlining initiatives. And the service already has identified at least one area of inefficient spending: software licenses.

The Navy does not know how many software licenses it owns-or whether they're currently in use. Janice Haith, director of assessment and compliance for the Navy's Information Dominance Directorate, said addressing that problem is likely to be the area in which the Navy reaps its largest return on investment as it continues to search for IT efficiencies.

"This is not just the Navy--it's DoD--but we have allowed all of our organizations to buy, say, a Microsoft license independently," she said in an interview with Federal News Radio. "They may have to buy it off of a specific vehicle, but they don't have to buy it through a specific program office. Therefore you might have 100,000 licenses sitting at one [command] and another 100,000 sitting at another. But we have no visibility on how many of these licenses are really being used, what they bought, whether it's a capability that's only good for something that they're developing. This way we get to leverage what we need as a United States Navy and buy it at a cheaper rate. I can't give you the exact price, but where we may be paying $50 per person, we might be able to get that down to $30 per person."

Enterprise licensing is one of several efficiency areas identified in a message issued last week by Haith's boss, David Dorsett, the deputy chief of Naval operations for Information Dominance. As part of a move toward a 25 percent reduction in data centers, he also froze new spending for servers, server upgrades and data centers. Any exceptions will have to be approved in a special waiver issued by the deputy chief information officer.

"We are reevaluating what all of our organizations want to do and why they want to do it, and is it consistent with our overall IT efficiency," Haith said. "We have some restrictions on where we can and cannot have data centers. We're looking to see if you have a plan to put a data center in place X, and that's not consistent with our authority and realm with regard to feasibility. Also, our tech authority can look and see if it makes sense. Server purchases up to date may not have been efficient. They may not have bought servers that were sufficiently robust to handle virtualization. We need to do that. That may mean we have to buy some additional servers that can be virtualized, and some of our servers today are not in that state."

Dorsett's memo also sets some targets for virtualization. He directed each of the Navy's 23 Echelon II organizations-the commands in the organizational chart directly below the office of the Chief of Naval Operations-to develop plans to increase virtualization by between 40-and-80 percent, and server utilization by between 50-and-80 percent.

Haith said the Navy developed those targets based on an examination of industry best practices, and that the Navy was a long way from meeting them. She said their efforts on virtualization would be focused on sharing computing resources across the entire department, including the Marine Corps.

"We've got a lot of work to do," she said. "Some of our applications may not be able to meet those objectives and we need to look at does that application need to stay or does it need to go. It may be a very old application, and we can't do anything with it."

Haith said the Navy Department's consolidation and efficiency effort would eventually feed into a DoDwide program that would aim to share resources as much as possible not only within each service, but across the armed forces.

"We're looking among the services to partner where we can," Haith said. "If you look at some of our areas where we're multi-located, for instance the Hampton Roads area, the Pensacola area, we have multiple service disciplines in those areas that are using multiple data centers. If we could just have one, we would definitely save a lot of money. You only need one building if it meets all the requirements, plus we become more efficient in terms of our green IT."

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.

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