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Steve O'Keeffe

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Posted: 2/2/2012 - 2 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

FDCCI - But Who's Counting Anyway 

In the “beginning” - OMB set the “before-the-flood” date at 1998 - there were 432 Federal data centers. Vivek’s “Big-Iron Census” in October 2009 said the rack-room headcount had jumped to 932. When OMB rolled out FDCCI in February 2010, it told us the population had jumped to more than 1,100. Interestingly, OMB also said Uncle Sam’s data centers gulped 6 billion KwH of electricity in 2006 - and warned that power draw could double by 2011 without a “fundamental” shift in behavior. A spark back on this later…

Seem like a lot of stats? Hold on to your slide rule - the plot thickens. Next, OMB announced a tighter data center definition in October 2010. Nothing less than 500 square feet should count as a data center - taking those wiring closets off the balance sheet. That should’ve thinned the herd right? Well, in fact, quite the opposite. In that same OMB memo of October 2010 which set the 500-square-foot qualifier, OMB stated that the number of data centers rose to 2,094. And, the most critical numbers - Kundra’s termination and savings targets. 373 data center closures by the end of 2012 and another 427 by 2015 - saving taxpayers $3 billion by 2015.

VanRoekel Ups the Ante

Vivek Kundra exits stage left and revised FDCCI metrics take center stage with new Fed CIO Steven VanRoekel. October 7, 2011, VanRoekel emancipated a bigger slice of the data center demographic - he reduced the minimum square footage to qualify as a data center from 500 to just 100 square feet. That’s just 10’ by 10’ for those scoring at home. The total official data center count increased - but not by much, which makes me raise an eyebrow - to 2,800. At the same time, OMB upped the ante on closure goals - shooting to unplug 472 by year end 2012, and 528 by 2015. That brings us to a nice round 1,000… And, the savings target jumped accordingly - from $3 billion to $5 billion.

Stop the Madness…

So, with all these numbers flying around, how are we actually doing on measuring? How many data centers have we closed and how much have we saved?

First, let’s consider the “third-rail” issue - here’s the electric shock. How did OMB come up with the 6 billion KhW electricity bill in 2006? The vast majority of Federal data center owners don’t know how much they pay for electricity.  What happened to the idea of a fundamental shift? Is there a plan to meter data center power draw to get a sense for the power bill and PUE?

Now to real savings. OMB required agencies to report their data center closures every quarter. The first report in October of last year was mostly unintelligible, incomplete - DHS and DoD did not report - and the savings were just $14.6 million - or 0.183 percent of the Federal budget. It seemed like OMB was more interested in hiding the numbers than showcasing them.  $14.6 million in savings pales next to the $5 billion goal.

And, let’s fast forward to today’s new map-based reports at - these are as clear as mud to me. Can anybody show me how to make sense of this? Perhaps OMB and GSA should host a webinar to explain how to use the tools and highlight results so far? MeriTalk would be happy to work with you on this project at no charge to the government.

Might I be so bold as to make some broader suggestions to OMB and GSA. The Hill’s on to the data center consolidation numbers game. Why don’t we sit down with data center operators from the agencies - not the CIOs but the guys and gals with circuits under their finger nails - to come up with some practical steps to enhance data center efficiency? And, I know this is anathema in today’s political environment, but we’re going to need to invest to get a return here...

Now for some compelling and tangible data center numbers - we’ve got 30 some Federal data center execs, Hill staffers, and GAOers coming to the MeriTalk Data Center Exchange - DCX - breakfast, next Thursday, February 9. Janice Haith, data center lead for the Navy, launches the session on how the nautical nerds have thrown their data center anchors away. Come join us and help map some serious metrics for success. Oh, and speaking of recommendations from Federal data center operators, check on the Data Center Consolidation Cookbook - built by Feds for Feds, it's free to download.

Quick plug for the new MeriTalk Data Center Brainstorm Conference and DCX Optimize Data Center Awards. We’re taking a pragmatic approach to surface real-world best practices - showcasing agencies that have demonstrated measurable success. The focus here is on common-sense initiatives that are delivering success in eating the cost elephant one bite at a time. We’re not trying to call out the agencies that have shut the most data centers - after all, who’s really counting anyway?

Opt in today to keep stirring IT up.

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