Government shutdown of the day: eliminating 800 data centers

And still have two-thirds of them left


Freezing the wages of federal workers isn't the only thing the Obama administration is doing to cut federal spending.

It also plans to cut the federal government's $80 billion IT budget by eliminating more than 800 of its 2,100 data centers by 2015, and move other IT operations to commercial clouds.

White House officials first aired the idea in February, pointing to growth in the number of data centers from 432 in 1998 to 1,100 in 2009 as evidence federal glass houses were proliferating too quickly.

In July the Office of Management and Budget issued a report showing the actual number of the fed's data centers is 2,094.

It's hard to mis-count an entire data center, but not impossible. Most were tucked deep in the dungeon realms of huge office buildings where you have to seek them out wearing sigils and charms to ward off troll-like sysadmins and carry torches to light your way.

It's much different now, of course.

Most buildings are non-smoking, so you have to leave the torches behind.

The discrepancy is almost certainly one of definition. Asked by the OMB last year how many data centers they had, most agencies undoubtedly passed in an accurate count, but might have left out or misclassified contracts for outsourcing, hosting or co-lo that give them the power of a data center, without the cost of real estate, power and cooling or troll food.

The new data-center-reduction goals are "not quite an action plan," government-IT analyst Ray Bjorklund told Computerworld. It's just a wrap-up of White House goals on IT cost cutting which have been in place for quite a while.

Unlike in the private sector, federal IT has not seen much pressure to cut costs or consolidate, despite frequent, sometimes successful, efforts at server consolidation, migration of support-intensive applications to the cloud and other cost-cutting measures.

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