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White House efficiency reforms will limit new datacentre investments from January 2017

US government CIO Tony Scott outlines the next wave of reforms designed to curtail datacentre use by public sector agencies and departments

The US government is to ban its agencies and departments from investing in new datacentre builds and expansions, as part of a renewed bid by the White House to curb public sector use of server farms.

Federal CIO Tony Scott published details of the ban in a memo addressed to US government departments and agencies, announcing the immediate launch of the White House’s Data Center Optimisation Initiative (DCOI).

Its aim is to encourage government agencies to consolidate their datacentre footprint, while taking steps to rid sites of inefficient infrastructure to save money and improve security.

From the end of January 2017, government agencies will need the approval of the Office of Management and Budget’s CIO to proceed with new datacentre builds and expansions, the memo said.

“To request such approval, agencies must submit a written justification that includes an analysis of the alternatives (including opportunities for cloud services, inter-agency shared services and third-party co-location) and an explanation of the net reduction in the agency’s datacentre inventory that will be facilitated by the new or expanded datacentre,” it said.

The memo also detailed the efficiency targets public sector datacentre operators will be expected to “achieve and maintain” by the end of the 2018 financial year, which are geared towards driving up server utilisation rates and improving energy efficiency.

The document called on operators to work towards achieving a server utilisation rate of more than 65% by the 2018 cut-off date, as well as an overall facility utilisation rate exceeding 80%.

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This, it is hoped, should pave the way for government agencies to cut the cost of running a physical datacentre by 25% between now and the end of the 2018 financial year.

“By the end of fiscal year 2018, agencies shall close at least 25% of tiered datacentres government-wide, excluding those approved as inter-agency shared services provider datacentres,” the document said.

“Furthermore, agencies must close at least 60% of non-tiered datacentres government-wide. This target will result in the closure of approximately 52% of the overall federal datacentre inventory and a reduction of approximately 31% in the gross floor area occupied by datacentres.”

Each agency will be set a target for how many datacentres they will be expected to close, and will be encouraged to prioritise the closure of sites deemed unlikely to achieve a power usage effectiveness (PUE) score of less than 1.5 or that are considered a security risk.

Next-generation datacentre closures

The document supersedes the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCI). Introduced in 2010 and pushed through by the Office of Management and Budget, those reforms resulted in the closure of 1,900 datacentres and savings of nearly $1bn.

In the blog post, Scott said the DCOI would build on the progress made by the FDCI by focusing on activities to improve datacentre optimisation, reduce the number in use and enable the government to save money.

“The important work agencies are undertaking as part of the Data Center Optimization Initiative will help move the federal government toward an IT portfolio that is more efficient, more effective, more secure, and better able to deliver world-class services to the American people,” Scott wrote.

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