Army steps up data center consolidation after imposing server moratorium

The Army's effort at data center consolidation is in step with today’s announcement from President Barack Obama that all federal agencies must consolidate and reduce data centers.

The Army has established two area processing centers that will help facilitate a sweeping data center consolidation effort that kicked off earlier this year with a moratorium on the purchase of new servers and voice switching to decrease energy and equipment costs.

“To decrease the Army data-center and server-farm footprint, the CIO/G-6 is establishing two Area Processing Centers at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., and Fort Bragg, N.C., to begin consolidating IT capabilities,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, Army CIO, told Defense Systems in a statement. “To prepare for the transition, the Army will use the savings from the server/switch moratorium to fund the Area Processing Centers. These initiatives also set the conditions for the Army's migration to the ‘to-be’ architecture – everything-over-IP.”

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The Army is also eyeing the potential for use of cloud-based capabilities in its data-storage, which would save money and energy, an Army spokesperson said.

The Army moratorium, which was issued in April, is in stride with today's announcement by President Barack Obama that all federal agencies must consolidate and reduce data centers within five years saving a minimum of $3 billion in 2012.

Sorenson established the moratorium to eliminate single-use servers and instead find solutions that can multitask. With some $8.7 billion allocated by President Obama for Army information technology in fiscal 2011, the Army has one of the largest IT organizations in the world.

The president has directed all federal organizations to find cheaper, more efficient ways of providing IT services. Just today Obama released a memo ordering a sell-off of data servers, among other excess properties, to save money and reduce the federal footprint.

“Over the past decade, the private sector reduced its data center footprint by capitalizing on innovative technologies to increase efficiencies. However, during that same period, the federal government experienced a substantial increase in the number of data centers, leading to increased energy consumption, real property expenditures, and operations and maintenance costs,” Obama said in the memo.

“In order to address the growth of data centers across the federal government, agencies shall immediately adopt a policy against expanding data centers beyond current levels, and shall develop plans to consolidate and significantly reduce data centers within five years,” the memo said.

Within the Pentagon, the work is already under way. One office, the Army Information Technology Agency, is in the crosshairs of the server-purchase moratorium as it manages everything DOD IT within the National Capital Region. But ITA, which has served as a testbed for broader DOD IT initiatives, is welcoming the challenge. “We’re definitely looking at what we can do with cloud capabilities. We’re looking at what data can be moved [to the cloud], when and where. We’re looking at virtualization. We’re looking at ways to be more green,” said Don Adcock, ITA director.

Adcock added that these initiatives will help streamline functionality for Army IT.