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US federal data centres merge in cost-cutting consolidation plan

Wed 18 Feb 2015

Navy

The Federal Data Centre Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), which launched in February 2010 to curb the growth of U.S. government data centres and promote efficient IT, has announced that it is expecting to sign up around 3,800 data centres, and a total of 1.7 million sq.ft., by the end of the year.

The group also said that the federal agencies involved in the data centre initiative are on track to save approximately $3.3bn (£2.1bn).

One of the pioneering projects effectuated under FDCCI [PDF] law has been the consolidation of the U.S. Navy’s 61 data centres, coordinated by CGI Federal. A $50.3mn contract was signed in October 2014, which is dedicated to providing the IT support services for the consolidation of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR).

However, despite its success the initiative is determined to continue with its consolidation efforts, targeting an estimated 6,000 federal data centres which are still in operation in the U.S.

“There is evidence of progress,” said Anthony Robbins, vice president at Brocade Federal “[but] there’s an enormous amount of savings still in front of us.”

The FDCCI is nearing its goal of consolidating 40% of government data centres; however Robbins insists that the project must continue to increase its reduction targets.

“Those were pretty good goals, but they weren’t aggressive enough,” he said. “We should be able to run the government on far less than 1,000 data centres.” Robbins added that considering the best practice achieved in the private sector, this goal should be attainable.

Robbins continued to explain that access to funding had been a considerable roadblock in consolidation efforts.

Steve Cronin, director of government sales at Schneider Electric, advised that agencies involved in the initiative use energy savings performance contracts, which do not require upfront costs.

“The parties will draft a comprehensive energy savings plan and the [energy savings company] would secure the funding and then guarantee enough energy will be saved over the term of the contract to pay for the project,” Cronin explained. “Any excess savings would actually return to the agency.”

The Navy, Army and the Internal Revenue Service are currently considering the use of these savings contracts. The Department of Energy has already been employing them for five years.

Robbins added that it is crucial for programmes like the FDCCI to move quickly and attain the right funding to keep up with technology advancements:

“So much of the IT money that they have today is being spent on architecture that they built yesterday […] Yesterday’s infrastructure is going to become more costly at an increasing and accelerating rate because of the hyper growth happening in our IT industry.”

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