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FCW : December 2012
Trending December 2012 FCW.COM 3 Projected cost savings under the Of ce of Management and Budget s Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative vary, with OMB estimates ranging from $3 billion to $5 billion and the Govern- ment Accountability Of ce recently predicting $2.4 bil- lion in savings. But Mark Forman, former administrator of e-government and IT at OMB, said those numbers are "smoke and mirrors" unless federal agencies also "consolidate away the complex- ity" of client/server applications. That is where the big savings are in data center consolidation, Forman said, but it is a change he s not sure federal agencies will undertake. "The only way out here is to re-plat- form these applications into common operating environments or consolidate applications and leverage economies of scale on similar applications," For- man told FCW. "The opportunities for consolidating are huge, but com- plexity drives cost, and most of that cost is labor. It s only if applications are ported to a common environment do you get economies of scale where operations could be automated. That is where theoretical big savings are. But few agencies appear willing to go through the stress and risk of having their mission applications migrate to a standard environment." Federal agencies have closed 382 agency data centers under FDCCI and aim to close or consolidate roughly 1,200 of the nearly 2,900 identified data centers by 2015. However, For- man said the predominant approach to data center consolidation will result in little net savings. Data or applications from one server are typi- cally shifted to another without any consolidation, resulting in a "new contract or task order for the appli- cation s management," he said, adding that about 80 percent of systems admin- istrators were contractors when he was at OMB. "The more you try to run differently designed applications in a common data center, the more you need administrative software and people to help you run it," Forman said. "From the agency perspective, if I have a mission-critical application and I m going to move it into a facility with mul- tiple applications, am I going to trust people there who know nothing about this application to run it? No, and the people savings probably aren t going to be there." He added that it is hard to convince the agencies that own the systems and applications that performance will not suffer under consolidation. "That trust bond you have with a legacy con- tractor can be strong," Forman said. "Some applications go back to Cobol, [to] 1974." When reached by phone, Defense Department spokesman Damien Pick- art said his department, which has shut down 114 data centers so far, had no comment regarding actual savings achieved thus far through FDCCI. OMB did not respond to requests for com- ment by press time. Thus far, individual agencies have not reported specific cost savings resulting from consolidation efforts, said David Powner, director of IT man- agement issues at GAO. Furthermore, he acknowledged the possibility that some agencies will experience a slight increase in costs initially. He cited as an example the Department of Home- land Security, which recently built two new data centers that should allow it to close most of its 43 existing centers. "We re still in the mind-set that if data center consolidation is done right, there [are] savings to be had here," Powner said, noting that the $2.4 bil- lion estimate is not out of reach. "We have a lot of underutilization of servers and a lot of unused capacity all over the place." --- Frank Konkel Forman: FDCCI cost savings are smoke and mirrors FCW CALENDAR 12/12 Big data Amazon Web Services Teresa Carlson and In-Q-Tel s Robert Ames are among the speakers at this FCW Executive Brie ng: Is Big Data a Big Deal for Government? Washington, D.C. http://is.gd/igevaz 12/14 IT acquisition Veterans Affairs Roger Baker and GSA s Mary Davie are scheduled presenters at AFFIRM s December luncheon. 18th Annual Federal Contractor Survey: Navigating the Government Landscape, Washington, D.C. http://is.gd/ supaho of Commerce's scal 2012 budget was in- vested in IT, according to the IG's Semiannual Report to Congress 25% Mark Forman
November 30, 2012