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How OMB is taking a pragmatic approach to data center consolidation

WWT VP of Public Sector Bryan Thomas comments on how OMB is taking a pragmatic approach with its fourth version of data consolidation memo.

September 5, 2019

Posted by Federal News Network on December 3, 2018:

The biggest difference in the fourth version of the Office of Management and Budget’s data center consolidation and optimization memo isn’t the decision to remove the focus on non-tiered data centers, nor is it the revamping of the metrics that don’t specifically focus on optimization or savings.

Rather, the biggest difference of the draft policy released Nov. 26 may just be the pragmatism of the entire memo itself. Several former federal officials said OMB seems to have listened to agencies about what metrics and goals are actually achievable, measurable and, maybe most importantly, logical.

“The memo does reflect the reality that they didn’t anticipate with the first memo from several years ago. Now that agencies have a couple of years under their collective belts and the practical realities needed revision,” said Rick Holgate, a former chief information officer in the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and now a senior director and analyst at Gartner. “The theme of relaxing or revising what is a data center is an acknowledgement of the realities of federal missions. Labs or high performance computing centers or medical or research facilities all may have needs for local computing footprints. The revised definition helps normalize and rationalize what is a data center to be reasonable and realistic.”

It wasn’t that previous OMB data center policies didn’t reflect the reality of the day too. The lessons learned over the last eight years demonstrate that savings and optimization are fine metrics, but a one-size-fits all approach across these two areas just doesn’t work.

“Earlier guidelines were geared toward getting quick wins—taking care of existing data centers that simply were not efficient and that could be dealt with quickly and easily, and with big returns on investment. In that context, clear-cut definitions and hard and fast metrics made sense,” said Bryan Thomas, vice president of public sector for World Wide Technology, in an email to Federal News Network.  “As we’ve seen wins and successes, it becomes imperative we evolve the definitions and metrics. It’s less about what constitutes a tiered or non-tiered data center, and more about where agencies can continue to drive efficiencies. Yes, an agency can invest money in upgrading a small server room, but how much return will they see on their investment, compared to what they might get by investing that same money in upgrading the operational technology of a larger facility?”

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