Consolidating Data Centers Key to Cutting IT Spending
By Michele Buisch - Published, January 17, 2012
To continue supporting the operational forces stationed around the world, protecting the nation and providing humanitarian assistance during these fiscally constrained times, the Department of the Navy is seeking opportunities to increase IT efficiencies while cutting business spending. A primary focus of this effort is data center consolidation, which is essential to reducing the IT budget by 25 percent during the next five years.
To date, there are approximately 150 DON data centers that support delivery of computing capabilities to users. Over the years, the proliferation of Navy and Marine Corps data centers has led to a complex, duplicative and costly network structure.
The goal of the department's data center consolidation initiative is to virtualize and reduce the number of software applications used and select a small number of enterprise data centers for retention and close the remainder. Consolidation of the data centers and reducing the number of applications department-wide will reduce network complexity and the overall cost of purchasing, manpower support, testing, certification, operation and maintenance, while meeting security and operational requirements. Efficiencies are gained by consistently delivering common computing capabilities as services to users.
One such enterprise data center that will be retained is the Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center Atlantic data center, which opened this past fall on Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station. The cutting-edge facility uses new technologies and optimizes systems, while providing enhanced capabilities and requiring less manpower.
"This data center … provides the Navy a state-of-the-art platform that gets us another step closer to information domination. Within this data center we will be able to support significantly more work with fewer personnel without sacrificing service or capability," Capt. Mark Glover, commanding officer of SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic, said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "In cooperation and combination with data centers in New Orleans and San Diego, this building represents a capability and a capacity to be exactly what the Navy needs at a time when the Navy needs it."
Additionally, the 20,220-square-foot building, which is one-third the size of its predecessor, is environmentally friendly, designed to the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) standards.
"Not only is this data center efficient, it's green — that is another big piece of what we want to do. We need to protect the environment and the resources that we have. This data center will help us do that," said Mr. Terry Halvorsen, DON Chief Information Officer, who also attended the center's ribbon-cutting ceremony. "The Navy and Marine Corps team is the best value we get in defense. We need to protect that. Efforts like this help."
Data center consolidation is part of a larger effort within the department to find efficiencies and cut spending in business IT. It was also mandated by President Obama in February 2010 with the launch of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), which instructs federal CIOs to inventory their agency data centers and develop consolidation plans for implementation in fiscal year 2012 budget submissions. The goal, as with the DON's consolidation efforts, is to reduce costs, enhance the department's IT security posture, apply best practices and promote energy efficiencies. The federal goal is to reduce the number of data centers, which has grown from 432 in 1998 to 2,094 in 2010, by at least 800 over five years, according to the "25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management," published in December 2010.
How many and which DON data centers will be retained is still under review; however, the strategy will be to consolidate all legacy data centers into the following three data center environments:
• SPAWAR: Three locations (San Diego, Charleston and New Orleans);
• Marine Corps: One location (Kansas City, Mo.); and
• Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI): A number of existing DON-owned NMCI locations that will be selected for retention following further review.
The DON CIO established a moratorium on data center investments, according to a July 20, 2011 memo, "DON Data Center Consolidation Policy Guidance," which states that before purchasing additional data center capacity, the Navy and Marine Corps must determine that existing capacity is insufficient to meet the requirement and that it is less cost-effective to expand into existing SPAWAR, NMCI or Marine Corps enterprise or regional data centers.
Progress is already being made. The Navy established a Navy data center consolidation task force to assess the current state and close as many data centers as feasible during the next five years. To date, the Navy has closed 13 data centers and plans to close 22 more during the next fiscal year and at least 58 by FY17 in an effort to realize the Navy's target of $1.4 billion in net savings for the department from data center consolidation.
The Marine Corps is evaluating local computing centers and isolated server hosting facilities for opportunities to consolidate, with plans to complete regionalization of IT infrastructure assets into its four enterprise and seven regional data centers. The Marine Corps Enterprise IT Services (MCEITS) Center in Kansas City, Mo., will be the centerpiece of the Marine Corps data center consolidation strategy.
The demand for IT efficiencies will continue as the federal budget shrinks. Through data center consolidation and the development of modern enterprise facilities, the department will increase its IT efficiencies, reduce spending and increase its operational effectiveness.
Michele Buisch provides communications support to the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer.