Across the world there are new opportunities for data center and IT consulting companies to capitalize on the consolidation projects being launched in the Government sector. Like commercial enterprises, governments focusing on governance (no pun intended) of IT see the benefits of consolidation of the data processing footprint. Also like commercial enterprises, governments have business silos (perhaps even more so than commercial enterprises), with duplication of functions and roles, overlapping systems and technology, as well as lots and lots of waste. Consolidation portends cost savings through elimination of non-beneficial redundancies, and better application of good governance processes to the holistic IT environment.
In the government sector, these projects are big. Really big. In a series of posts, we’ll cover several countries around the globe in which the government is planning large scale data center consolidations.
Part 1: United States of America
In the United States (my home country), the federal government has embarked upon a six-month planning cycle to address data center sprawl. Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, instructed federal agency CIO’s to embark on a broad consolidation initiative to bring control to the government’s data center sprawl (now counting over 1,000 data centers). Goals of the initiative include:
- Promote the use of Green IT by reducing the overall energy and real estate footprint of government data centers
- Reduce the cost of data center hardware, software, and operations
- Increase the overall IT security posture of the government
- Shift IT investments to more efficient computing platforms and technologies
Leading the planning effort will be Treasury CIO Michael Duffy and Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires.
Under the timeline proposed by Kundra, IT asset inventory is to already be complete and an initial data center consolidation plan is to be on the table by the end of June 2010. The final technical roadmap to accomplish consolidation is to be in place by the end of August 2010, for inclusion in the 2012 fiscal year budget.
It should be noted that some agencies have been executing consolidation plans for several years already at considerable investment including construction of large new data center facilities. The US military too, is along the path with data center consolidation.
One of the potential barriers for success of this ambitious initiative is, as one would expect, funding. The lead time for funding approval is typically a couple to several years, and when funding arrives it’s commonly less than requested. Complicating matters further, different agencies are funded differently. Furthermore, funding must be balanced against the priorities within individual agencies, and priorities are seldom aligned across agencies.
In parallel with all this, the General Services Administration (GSA) has embarked on its own six-month IT asset inventory of the government’s entire infrastructure. That’s a lot of overlap, to be sure, and suggestive of lack of coordination in achieving the overall goals.
All this suggests that there is significant opportunity for data center services providers and IT Governance consultants who are positioned to approach federal government engagements.
The government data center consolidation activity is not confined to the federal branches. Several states also have embarked upon similar projects, including California, Texas, and Massachusetts. Again, for the provider positioned to approach these organizations, opportunity exists.