Agencies Realign Consolidation Objectives

It's been nearly five years since the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative took root, and agencies across the government arena have been hopping on board in an effort to reduce server sprawl and other inefficiencies that diminish budgets and resources. However, the FDCCI has received criticism from many angles, raising concerns regarding its actual cost-effectiveness and the best techniques to fulfill its demands. While there's been plenty of opportunity for test the waters with various consolidation methods and metrics, it's time that the FDCCI shed light on optimal practices.

Determining saving potential

As with any IT initiative at the federal level, decision-makers want to know what they can expect from signing on with a proposition. Since consolidation demands fairly drastic measures be taken to achieve its standards, it makes sense that tech leaders would demand information regarding the resource saving opportunities at hand. Accurate data on this topic has been scarce thus far in the FDCCI's lifespan, causing decision-makers to wonder what's in it for them when it comes to consolidation. Thankfully, there may be more upsides to this fogginess than it seems.

According to a recent article from FCW, agencies have used a variety of methods in calculating their FDCCI savings potential, leading decision-makers down different paths when attempting to lock down definitive answers to these questions. The source even suggested that the $1.1 billion savings estimation made by the Government Accountability Office in September may be off the mark, revealing an alarming disconnect between the central command of the FDCCI and the many organizations seeking to implement its recommendations.

Dave Powner, GAO's director of IT management issues, reportedly chalked this uncertainty up to the dynamic nature of the initiative itself, pointing out that agencies are employing a diverse array of techniques in hopes of reaching their consolidation goals. This has resulted in disparities of accounting methodologies, as not all decision-makers are counting the same expenditure areas in their savings reports. Despite the Office of Management and Budget outlining a cost-estimation model alongside the FDCCI, agency leaders have not stuck to the recommended parameters.

Overarching objectives emerge

Cost savings aside, there appears to have been a movement away from the central goals set out by the committees behind the consolidation project. FCW noted that some leaders have been vocal about this shift, hoping that by returning to the roots of the FDCCI, agencies will focus less on nitpicking numbers and realize the true value of the initiative.

"The report reinforces my concern that more than four years after the launch of the [Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative], we are losing sight of the initial long-term strategic goals of the initiative," Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, reportedly said in a statement.

Connolly continued by highlighting the importance of other consolidation advantages such as 'green IT,' reduced operational costs, bolstered cybersecurity and the transition of IT investments into more efficient platforms, such as cloud computing. Decision-makers must not overlook strategies such as enterprise mobility, which can also see performance enhancements thanks to reduced data center sprawl and centralized resources.

Revitalizing the FDCCI

The theoretical benefits of consolidation may have plenty of backing from federal advocates, but what can be done to actually see these advantages in their own IT departments? Federal Times suggested that by embracing virtualization technology, agencies can put their FDCCI projects on the fast track to success. This technique reduces the need for heavy server investments and makes application migration easier on end users and infrastructure assets. With virtualization in their arsenals, organizations may finally be able to fulfill the potential of the FDCCI.