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GCN : December 2012
[BrieFing] 8 GCN DECEMBER 2012 • GCN.COM measure the value of the ongoing data consolidation effort. "A key point going forward with data center consolidation under the PortfolioStat umbrella is: what are the key metrics? Focusing on larger data centers and dollar savings will be key," he said. GAO's recommendation: OMB's federal CIO should ensure that agen- cies use a standardized cost model to improve consolidation planning, and use recognized best practices when estab- lishing schedules and cost estimates for their consolidation efforts. DATA ORCHESTRATION TOOLS A July GAO report on federal data center consolidation efforts noted agency suc- cess stories along these lines, includ- ing the Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs, which had already closed 11 data centers in scal year 2012 and was using virtualization technologies to reduce all remote sites to either one or two physical servers. Going forward, agency IT managers will have to raise their level of sophistica- tion in applying virtualization technology, according to Joe Brown, president of Accelera Solutions, which supplies virtu- alization technology to the government, healthcare and other industries. Speci - cally, they need to become more aware of and implement orchestration tools, he said. Orchestration tools act as a manage- ment console working between the virtu- alization system and the end user. These tools give the IT administrators a busi- ness view of resources so they can see application level workloads, Brown said. As a result, they are able to determine the most appropriate set of resources to run a particular workload on. Orchestration tools can also give administrators and business users a single view of application workloads across multiple data centers. This type of technology needs to be made available so the business person can manipulate workloads to improve performance with- out interacting with an IT administrator, Brown noted. Additionally, "we need to see more shared government services for com- munity clouds," Brown argues. "This is the vision of the [data center consolida- tion] program, anyway." Authentication services, le storage and database management are all services that could be moved to government community clouds, said Brown. For agencies that are only using 10 percent of available com- pute resources, these types of resources can be shut off and the agencies can use shared resources instead. Agencies also need to be pushed a little harder in getting rid of old gear and storage devices in their data centers that consume a lot of power. "The challenge we are going to have is the budget is not going to be there to support a lot of these efforts over the next couple of year," Brown said. It will be hard for agencies to meet these mandates in the absence of a budget, Brown said, emphasizing the need for agencies to begin sharing resources and services. UNIFIED COMPUTING SYSTEMS Agency managers should also think about deploying pre-con gured, uni ed computing platforms that integrate compute resources, networking and storage in an integrated platform, ex- ecutives said. This will reduce the need for different types of IT and network ad- ministrators, according to Rich Camp- bell, CTO with EMC Federal. You can just have a data center administrator, which will free up resources, he said. While all agencies have data center consolidation and optimization as well as cost reduction efforts under way, the process is moving at a snail's pace, said Anthony Robbins, vice president of federal sales with Brocade, a developer of network solutions that help organiza- tions move to virtual environments. Data center consolidation efforts are "either going slowly or stalled because the government is trying to gure out what their budget situation is, or how much money they have to spend," Robbins said. And the government will still have too many data centers even if 1,200 are shuttered by 2015, he added. His rec- ommendation: agencies need to move more aggressively to "anything-as-a- service or cloud-like services" that will help draw down more data centers and ultimately position agencies to better improve citizen services and support the war ghter. Finally, "stop doing legacy stuff," said Robbins. Maintaining legacy systems raises the cost of IT operations and increases risks. Consequently, applica- tion and infrastructure modernization "hasn't quite happened across the federal government as it [has] across the commercial space," he noted. • Agencies need to move aggressively to cloud-like services to help draw down data centers and position them to improve citizen services. --- ANTHONY ROBBINS, BROCADE