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August 16, 2016

A Fresh Approach to Optimizing Federal Data Centers

By Dominic Sale, Office of Government-wide Policy, GSA


This blog entry was originally published on August 10, 2016 on the GSA blog.

Last week, we announced that GSA’s Office of Government-wide Policy (OGP) will serve as the Managing Partner for OMB’s Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) to help federal agencies implement the data center provisions of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA).

The DCOI requires federal agencies to develop and report on data center strategies to consolidate and optimize existing facilities, achieve cost savings, and transition to more efficient infrastructure, such as cloud services and inter-agency shared services.

As managing partner, OGP will focus on three primary objectives:

  1. Encouraging the best-equipped federal data centers to provide services to other agencies, based on the notion that most programs, bureaus and agencies should be focused on their mission and not with the costs and risks of operating their own data centers.
  2. Fostering an internal federal marketplace for data center services through which customer agencies can select the best match for their needs from available interagency shared service providers and the private sector.
  3. Charting a clear path to the cloud by moving away from a dependence on physical infrastructure, consistent with the President’s FY 2017 budget goals to modernize IT and minimize spending on legacy systems and infrastructure, and improve our cybersecurity posture.

Few would debate that if we had the opportunity to build the federal government’s IT infrastructure from the ground up today, it would certainly look very different than the current state. The DCOI is an ambitious effort to optimize and innovate more than 10,000 data centers operated by federal agencies.

The DCOI is the next logical step in the history of federal data centers, following the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) launched by OMB in 2010, to achieve cost savings through consolidation of redundant federal data centers. With the aggregate cost of operations, changing hosting options, and the ever-increasing need for better information security, optimizing our infrastructure is a sound investment and the right thing to do.

To date, OGP has made great progress in this new role to empower agencies in creating their own path to data center optimization. Results include:

  • Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) Tool Assessment: Identifying and reviewing tools that agencies can use to monitor, measure, manage and/or control data center utilization and energy consumption of all IT-related equipment.
  • Marketplace ground-breaking: Drawing the blueprint for agencies to access shared services and acquire DCIM tools/products in a robust marketplace by collaborating with the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) on contract vehicles and the Acquisition Gateway platform, and leveraging expertise from the Unified Shared Services Management (USSM).
  • Identifying and preparing Inter-Agency Shared Service Providers (ISSP) for marketplace participation: Creating a qualification process for agencies and private sector companies to become ISSPs (e.g., expression of interest, application process, operating standards) and developing common service and financial models to guide marketplace activity.
  • Moving to the cloud: Investigating best practices in selecting cloud services to store data online vs. on-premise. OGP is collaborating with GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) and FedRAMP to make information available on cloud service providers (CSPs), as well as collaborating with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and FAS to provide agencies with guidance on how to comply with mandates for transitioning to cloud services.
  • Private sector partnering: Reaching out to industry to identify best practices for shared services and tools to support automated infrastructure management.
  • Building a Data Center Community of Practice: Putting plans in place to establish a forum for policy managers, data center program managers, facilities managers, and sustainability officers at executive agencies to collaborate on optimization strategies and discuss topics such as DCOI annual strategic plans.

We encourage your participation in this important initiative. Please join our listserv to keep abreast of Data Center CoP opportunities. To join, email “”; your message should have no subject, and should include the text “subscribe datacenters” in the body of the message.

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