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Federal Agencies Lagging Behind In Data Center Plans

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the your-tax-dollars-at-work dept.

Government 16

Nerval's Lobster writes with news that U.S. federal agencies are falling behind in their efforts to consolidate government data centers. Current plans call for a savings of $2.4 billion and the closing of over a thousand data centers, but 17 of 24 agencies still haven't provided details on their IT infrastructure and usage. A new report from the Government Accountability Office highlights the problems with this consolidation effort. "Data centers represent a significant cost to the federal government. Electricity to operate federal servers and data centers costs around $450 million a year, according to an EPA estimate cited in the report. Moreover, federal agencies reported limited reuse of data centers, along with server utilization rates dipping as low as 5 percent. The GAO report features agencies claiming several challenges on the way to data-center consolidation. These included accepting cultural change as part of the consolidation; funding the consolidation and identifying the resulting cost savings; operational challenges including procurement and resource constraints; and difficulties in planning a migration strategy."

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16 comments

look at the united and continental merger (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#40717977)

look at the united and continental merger to see what can happen in a consolidation.
It's easy to see what to do on paper but not so much for really and when you have PHB's driving the show things can get messy

white people have no work ethic (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40718077)

has a white spree killer ever got more than 15 kills? hell no. The hardworking Asian man has nearly double that. and you wonder why your economy is shit? sure, 71 people shot is a record but with only 12 kills it shows a sloppy approach and general lack of discipline. why didn't he study the master and chain the doors first so no one can escape? because the white man is too egotistical to learn from others no matter how much more accomplished they are. cho is still the all time king, deal with it.

Re:white people have no work ethic (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40718671)

Charles Whitman a former Marine who killed 16 people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Whitman [wikipedia.org]

The power of consolidation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40718325)

Federal Agencies Lagging Behind In Data Center Plans

Good! Means they will not have the capacity to use the information they do have, against citizens easily.

Re:The power of consolidation. (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#40719569)

It seems to me that a consolidated re-engineered Large Federal Data Center would be even LESS likely to be useful as a repository of information than the smaller distributed systems now in use.

And of course it means a single explosion could take out a much higher percentage of the Federal Data.

I'm liking this consolidation plan more and more.

Likely, no one documented anything (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#40718371)

I'm willing to bet that the reason they haven't given the GAO the details of their data centers and usage is because they don't actually know. Each little department in the agency has their IT guys, but the agency has no central record of who is doing what with their IT budget. If they were smart, they immediately hired an outside consultant team to start taking inventory, but we're talking about unraveling thousands of computers and servers and untangling networks that have been in place for decades. Even with a dedicated project team, that could take months, and I don't think anyone would dedicate a project team to this task. Likely, it's one poor overwhelmed soul from the agency who is doing it with the dreaded feeling that he's eventually going to lose his own job once it's known he's redundant.

Re:Likely, no one documented anything (1)

chebucto (992517) | about 2 years ago | (#40721903)

Is the solution then for the central bureaucracy to take responsibility for creating the inventories?

Not only would a centralized effort circumvent much of the local office politics, the wingtips on the ground would have a better idea of where any given piece of equipment fits into the greater USG IT infrastructure.

Re:Likely, no one documented anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40722483)

BINGO. The Army has had to keep revising their estimates from 750ish DATA CENTERS to now over 1100 I think. There is another issue here in that federal CIOs are judged on their ability to "do things" and building a modern data center is "doing something" that is easily quantifiable whereas maintaining uptime of 99% is surprisingly difficult and unsexy.

datacenters are linear (1)

markhahn (122033) | about 2 years ago | (#40718599)

why the hell do people think consolidation is advantageous at any scale? once you're past a few dozen racks (small), costs go pretty neatly linear.

if the issue is poorly operated DCs not operating at capacity, why would a bigger DC be any different? 50% of 10x larger is still 50%...

Re:datacenters are linear (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40718699)

Consolidation can mean reduction in resources which is what this study is looking at doing. If you can take an entire row of server cabinets, let's say 200 4U servers running at less than 5% utilization, and eliminate it into one ESX Hyper-V server your costs savings are going to become apparent very quickly. And this is not a stretch, 99% of my job is migrating services into a virtualized environment and decomming servers that are running but not actually being used to their full capacity.

Re:datacenters are linear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40725457)

sure, server consolidation is great. this article is about DC consolidation, though: no well-run DC would have 4u servers at 5%, so that's not really the issue.

Re:datacenters are linear (1)

Branciforte (2437662) | about 2 years ago | (#40719685)

There is an economy of scale with the cooling systems. You can also purchase electricity more cheaply in bulk. You only have to pay once for the security system. And resources not in use by one client can be used by another client.

Re:datacenters are linear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40725493)

why do you think cooling systems are nonlinear? sure, if you are willing to take on a completely different cooling tech when your DC is huge, that would appear nonlinear. but whether you have 1 or 20 standard 30t chillers, the price is linear. HVAC is mostly 19th century technology, with minor tweaks like more efficient refrigerants and variable-speed motors.

I suspect people are merely confused by quantization noise when they talk about DC consolidation. people are quantized, and some other equipment shows price jumps, usually only on the low scale. for instance, it takes a fairly decent-sized DC to justify the first generator, but once you get that big, generators are scalable (fairly smoothly, if not strictly linearly.)

Re:datacenters are linear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40720759)

Because costs do not go anywhere near linear at a few racks. At around 30 Megawatts or so you achieve linearity in costs. Up til then you get volume purchase discounts, better power pricing, and increasingly efficient HVAC systems, PDUs, UPS, etc. Additionally there is a fundamental challenge these guys all face: most of their facilities were scoped for 200w/sf at best. Nowadays you can pretty easily get 10kw in a cabinet and I have seen 25kw cabinets with dense blade servers and such. The raised floor models of some sites won't handle dense storage arrays because of weight, etc.

I presented at the NIST conference on cloud computing last year - asked the audience to raise their hands if they did something in, on, around, or near a data center. Then asked them to lower their hands if it was over 5 Megawatts. Of the 500+ people in the audience, one hand stayed up.

dg

who really cares ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40719675)

Anyway the taxpayer will (be forced to) pay.
The only way to reduce costs is to reduce the myriad of useless Federal agencies, starting with EPA :)

Re:who really cares ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40725301)

Drink much of that Republican Kool-Aid?

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