Data center optimization reduces physical footprints

With the rise of virtualization techniques, data center experts have enjoyed reduced capital expense requirements, diminished maintenance demands and an easier way to procure applications for local and remote end users. It's no secret that the growth of in-house servers and storage appliances is on the decline, but are you ready for a future of dramatically consolidated physical infrastructure, perhaps even doing away with on-premise resources entirely? Given the trends in government IT of late, you had better prepare to embrace the concept of "less is more" with regard to your data center assets.

Big savings anticipated Spearheading programs such as the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, IT decision-makers at the highest level have expressed the need for off-premise computing as a way to drive down capital expenditures and combat the perpetuation of data center sprawl. According to a recent article from Federal Times, these efforts bode well for technology budgets across federal agencies, with cost savings predicted to exceed $5.3 billion by the end of fiscal 2017. As the program enters its fourth year, the Office of Management and Budget believes that the FDCCI shows great promise.

"We're trying to promote adoption of private sector best practices and best practices in government," said Justice Department CIO Joseph Klimavicz, who chairs the FDCCI, as quoted by the news source. "It's about return on investment [in the private sector]. We need to do the same thing in government."

If IT leaders have one complaint about the FDCCI thus far, it's that total savings have been hard to track, as data center optimization efforts have such widespread implications in federal budgets. This has hampered progress in many respects, and some OMB officials believe that agencies could be missing out on certain advantageous practices by overlooking the details of each agency's techniques. However you plan to incorporate consolidation into your IT strategy, be sure that you employ strong performance tracking and monitoring methods to ensure high visibility into your savings profile.

An eye on the cloud If cloud computing plays a major part in your data center overhaul outlook, you aren't alone in the federal arena, according to NextGov. Andy Jassy, senior vice president of Amazon Web Services, highlighted the energy inefficiencies and underused resources of the government's many physical systems, predicting that organizations will begin to ramp up their cloud computing procurements in response to these unsustainable practices. Off-premise resources can have a positive impact on the FDCCI and other cost-saving efforts if more widely embraced as a viable alternative to in-house systems.

"It may take a little longer potentially than the private sector, but we passionately believe that public sector will follow the same trend we're seeing in the private sector, which is that relatively few will own data centers," Jassy told the source at the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. "And those that do will have a much smaller footprint than what they have today."

While the cloud has already taken the private sector by storm, government agencies have been slightly more skeptical of the control and security implications of public cloud resources, and understandably so - federal data centers house sensitive data regarding citizen identities and information pertaining to the nation's most critical secrets. For this reason, you may want to avoid jumping headfirst into the public cloud, at least for touchier data and applications.

Teaming up with a trusted service provider to create a tailored private cloud infrastructure is a much wiser option, granting you the convenience and cost savings of off-premise solutions while retaining total control of your most precious digital assets