Government shutdown of the day: eliminating 800 data centers

And still have two-thirds of them left

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A survey published in May of federal agencies' IT plans reads like a Gartner hype-list of hot technologies, but the most relevant are that the most important issues are data-center consolidation (50 percent listed it) and IT modernization (52 percent).

The most important technologies -- which, presumably would be the way agencies go about pursuing consolidation and modernization -- are cloud computing (58 percent) and virtualization (52 percent).

That doesn't mean the feds will be successful in pulling data centers out of the IT infrastructure without leaving huge holes in either functionality or security.

At least they're listing the right technologies to make it possible, which is a start.

Unfortunately, federal agencies make a lot of starts on things they often don't finish, or at least don't finish correctly the first time; or the fifth.

So there's no guarantee the feds will actually be able to eliminate 38 percent of its data centers -- which their bosses, remember, have been pushing them to do for almost two solid years.

The freshest evidence that it's working isn't particularly strong. The goal has a new name -- the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative -- and an IT Dashboard designed to highlight the government's cost-saving IT plans, though it will appeal only to those with crossover political/technology geek credentials.

Either way, consolidation should make a big difference in the way federal IT works, both financially and operationally. As data centers close down or move to the cloud, watch for a lot more screwups as data are lost, security holes open and disgruntled, laid-off workers do stupid things that make the news.

You could look at that as governmental incompetence and chaos, but any commercial organization going through upheaval and consolidation goes through the same kinds of contortions. It's just far more public in government, and at a far larger scale.

There's been a lot of consolidation in corporate IT over the past few years. But one organization shutting down 800 data centers and only hitting a third of its facilities? That one's new to me.

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