This is the fourth article in a four-part series exploring what federal officials need to consider as agencies begin to look beyond current efforts to consolidate government data centers.
When your job is IT optimization, you spend your time literally searching for every opportunity to get the proverbial “bang for the buck” out of the scarce dollars you have.
At the Federal Aviation Administration, Cheryl Rogers, director of the Office of IT Optimization, found lots of opportunity for data center consolidation when she arrived three years ago.
She began with the 26 different server rooms she found at FAA headquarters; from there Rogers and her team are working on consolidating more than 300 server rooms at FAA facilities nationwide. Then there are the more than 800 FAA facilities.
In the last three years, “the FAA has done a lot around consolidation, but still has a long way to go,” Rogers said at the “Beyond Data Center Consolidation” forum, held in Washington last month.
She noted that FAA consolidation began with bottom up efforts to consolidate before it was mandated by the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI).
We know we have gotten hurt before from unpatched systems. We will have different ways of monitoring, making this a good opportunity for the FAA.”
“We think that by consolidating these we are going to improve security, because that means fewer physical locations, fewer access points and we have the opportunity to start looking at standardized tools,” Rogers said. “We know we have gotten hurt before from unpatched systems. We will have different ways of monitoring, making this a good opportunity for the FAA.”
Rogers also sees a nexus between data center consolidation and cloud, “because what we don’t want to do is just pick up hardware and just move it to a centralized data center so we have just moved a bunch of stuff in there.”
About This Series: The Federal government is now on track to close 1,080 data centers by 2015 among 3,133 in operation as part of a broader administration effort to reduce duplicative spending. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel has signaled a new emphasis on doing “more” — by investing in technology creatively–rather than focusing primarily “on the less” associated with cuts, including data center closures. This series reflects how senior agency IT executives view some of the top issues likely to emerge beyond data center consolidation, including security, monitoring, automation, mobility and hosting more applications in the cloud.
Part 1 examined the need to reduce the government’s digital footprint. Part 2 highlighted Army efforts to rationalize its portfolio of 8,000 applications. Part 3 looked at Defense Intelligence Agency plans to create enhanced security capabilities. The articles and videos in this series were provided by On the Frontlines.
Currently, Rogers and her team are mapping the rooms, looking to see what’s in them, figuring out what to keep and what can be discarded.
“We are mapping that and we are asking ourselves what’s the best thing to do with this. And in some cases, maybe a good fit is a public cloud environment, some of our lower risk items,” she noted.
“We’ve already made the decision in FAA to move our email to the cloud. We haven’t yet; we are going through the acquisition process as we speak. But there will always be some stuff that will be inside the FAA; recognizing that we’ve already moved out on the effort to stand up a private cloud inside the FAA.”
Now Rogers has to ask, “Will some of the apps have to be re-architected in order to run in the cloud? That’s a big question for us. It’s not as easy as just saying it, we recognize that, but we are definitely trying to think about cloud as we do data center consolidation.”
Rogers’ biggest challenge is a common one – getting investment money.
“We believe that there is a return on investment over time, but it’s going to cost money to save money.” And because of FAA’s federated IT model, convincing “box huggers” remains a challenge as steady progress is made towards a shared services environment.
“We’ve got to get people comfortable that it is OK to have a centralized shared data center — whether it’s outsourced or insourced — so that they don’t feel like they have to own the box. So getting past that is something that we are going to need to work on.”
Rogers is looking towards a future where using shared services is the norm.
“Then we want to start figuring out how we focus IT to be more of a business partner to help the business move forward on this strategy side. That’s what we want to look like inside the FAA in 5 years. Not 10.”