Data center goals depend on other programs’ success

By Joseph Marks

June 19, 2012

The government’s ability to reach its goal of saving $5 billion by consolidating and shuttering agency data centers will ultimately depend on two other information technology initiatives, an industry official said Tuesday: the shared services strategy and Portfoliostat.

Unless those other programs -- both aimed at reducing and rationalizing the number of government computer programs and applications -- are successful, the data center initiative will merely have moved government computer servers around instead of trimming the number of servers and making them less cluttered, Citrix Systems Vice President for Public Sector Tom Simmons said.

Citrix contracts with the government on numerous data center efficiency projects. Simmons spoke with Nextgov on the sidelines of a conference sponsored by Meritalk, a government IT network.

The shared services strategy, which launched in May, aims to cut down on the number of computer systems that serve the same or similar functions within agencies, such as systems for human resources and financial management. There are more than 600 human resources systems across government, federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel has said.

, launched in March, aims to rationalize agencies’ full IT portfolios and cut or trim back ineffective programs.

The number of applications running in small data centers or server closets that serve a single office tends to grow over time as new applications are added for projects and never removed, Simmons said.

Consolidated data centers and computer clouds gather much of their efficiency, though, by piling different instances of the same application on top of each other, so if those one-off applications aren’t removed, the consolidation project will be significantly less efficient.

There are at least 16,000 applications spread across the Army’s enterprise, Col. Chris Miller, director of the Army’s Data Center Consolidation Program, told the Meritalk audience. Miller is in the process of identifying all of the applications the Army is using and determining which can be consolidated or shut down.

“You’ve got specific applications that were built on specific servers with specific storage years ago that are still being managed and maintained in the existing data centers,” Simmons said. “And the application owners are saying, ‘you can’t close that because I’ve got three people that rely on that application.’ ”

By Joseph Marks

June 19, 2012