Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative Part of Larger IT Efforts
However, costs savings won't materialize simply by shuttering individual data centers if an agency isn't working under a strategic plan to achieve targeted efficiencies through the scale-down. Howard recalls one government agency that Nutanix worked with that had been frustrated in its own consolidation efforts. That agency, Howard says, had begun with hundreds of data centers, and after closing 49 of them, found that it "didn't save a penny."
"There's got to be more than just saying, 'OK, that location can be shut down, let's move it from here to here,'" he says. "You have to have a good plan - and without a good plan, it's just going to be a move from one bad place to another."
In that context, Howard argued that CIOs should approach their data center efforts as a vehicle to support other business-driven IT initiatives, of which the government has many. Along with OMB's consolidation directive, the White House has also instructed CIOs to prioritize cloud computing systems, expand the use of mobile technologies within their agencies and publish more government data sets in an open, machine-readable format, among other areas of focus.
Howard describes these initiatives as "pretty tightly knit," adding, "Obviously those are new and innovative approaches to do business differently than you've done it in the past."
"I don't see them as the siloes of activities. Once you decide to transform your data center, it's not just shrinking [your] footprint. That's one aspect of it, but there's efficiencies that can be had across the board," Howard says, ranging from how an agency delivers and consumers applications to how extensively it virtualizes to whether it uses public or private cloud services. "These are all thoughts that go into your overall transformation agenda. If they're not tightly coupled together then you're probably going to miss out on a tremendous amount of efficiencies."
Or, as Ash puts it, "We don't do IT for IT's sake. We do it for the mission."
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