Federal data center consolidation requires 'baby steps'

Wednesday - 9/22/2010, 6:30pm EDT

Angie Petty, principal analyst, Input

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The initiative to consolidate more than 1,100 federal data centers will take "baby steps," said Angie Petty, principal analyst at market research firm Input, in an interview with DorobekINSIDER.

A report by Input says progress is slow due to lack of funds, time and resources.

These roadblocks "present major obstacles to this initiative being the game-changing program that it could be," according to the report.

In the last decade, the number of federal data centers has jumped from 400 to 1,100. Efforts to consolidate began earlier this year as part of the 2010 Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative to reduce energy use and IT costs while increasing IT security.

As reported by Federal News Radio, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said the Obama administration's sustainability goals, along with its mandate to reduce the amount of real estate the government owns or manages, are key pieces to every agency's data center strategy.

But some data center managers view the task as an "unfunded mandate," Petty said.

Consolidation will require immediate funds for new software and servers, she said.

"So there needs to be some upfront spending in many cases in order to realize the back-end gain," Petty said.

The initiative will also require costs to hire vendors, an opportunity for contractors who can help with designing and implementing solutions.

"We've been seeing some interesting, innovative projects from contractors," Petty said.

The Obama administration wants consolidation of the federal data centers done quickly, presenting yet another challenge.

"Most agencies are moving toward this and plan to do some implementation," Petty said. "It's just going to be on a smaller scale and taking baby steps toward the end goal.