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Feds Now Plans To Close 1,200 Data Centers 148

Posted by timothy
from the hand-the-keys-to-carl-malamud dept.
1sockchuck writes "The U.S. government now expects to shutter at least 1,200 data centers by the end of 2015 in its data center consolidation project. That's about 40 percent of the IT facilities identified in the latest update from federal CIO Steven VanRoekel. The number of government data centers has grown steadily — jumping from 1,100 to 2,094 and now to 3,133 — as the Obama administration has identified more facilities than expected, and expanded the initiative to target telecom closets. The CIO's office says it is on track to close 525 facilities by the end of this year, and has published a list of data centers targeted for closure."
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Feds Now Plans To Close 1,200 Data Centers

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  • Figures (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @07:44PM (#38590638)

    Under a Republican administration government grows exponentially and it takes a Democratic president to get things back under control.

    • Re:Figures (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TWX (665546) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @07:50PM (#38590696)

      Welcome to topsy-turvy land. We've actually been here for awhile, with "fiscal conservative" presidents and legislatures growing the national debt and supposedly "tax and spend liberal" presidents actually shrinking debt.

      I support consolidating telecom facilities. Having facilities physically compromised is a bigger danger when there are more facilities, and having more facilities and presumably more equipment means more places one's information ends up, possibly leading to a greater chance that one's data won't remain secure to electronic penetration either.

      Many years ago, Tennessee forced all of its state agencies on to one computer system for the bulk of State business. The agencies were very upset by this, but in the end it did save money and help keep records better because now agency X and agency Y were handling the same record, instead of having separate, different records that were never checked against each other. I'm sure there were problems, especially turf wars where agencies would fight over who "owned" the data and who could change things, but I'd bet it still worked better than having thirty individual agencies all with their own equipment that doesn't synchronize...

      • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GoChickenFat (743372)
        Wholly smokes...

        ...and supposedly "tax and spend liberal" presidents actually shrinking debt.

        I don't know what the savings are with these DC closures...the article doesn't say. But tell me where in these numbers you see a liberal shrinking the debt http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo5.htm [treasurydirect.gov] - probably hosted on a server in one of the soon to be shuttered DCs...

        • by hondo77 (324058)
          On this chart [treasurydirect.gov], down at the bottom. Go Truman and Ike (who would be considered a lefty by today's Republican party)!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by locketine (1101453)
          You are aware that Bush was increasing the debt during an economic boom and Obama is increasing it during a recession, right? Tax revenue is the main difference between those two situations.

          Also, debt only became an "important" issue to congress once Obama took office even though Bush's policies are responsible for a majority of the debt growth during Obama's term in office. If one wants to see an accurate accounting of who raised the debt and who lowered it they need to take into account the economic co
      • Re:Figures (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @09:00PM (#38591270) Homepage Journal

        Welcome to topsy-turvy land. We've actually been here for awhile, with "fiscal conservative" presidents and legislatures growing the national debt and supposedly "tax and spend liberal" presidents actually shrinking debt.

        I support consolidating telecom facilities. Having facilities physically compromised is a bigger danger when there are more facilities, and having more facilities and presumably more equipment means more places one's information ends up, possibly leading to a greater chance that one's data won't remain secure to electronic penetration either.

        Many years ago, Tennessee forced all of its state agencies on to one computer system for the bulk of State business. The agencies were very upset by this, but in the end it did save money and help keep records better because now agency X and agency Y were handling the same record, instead of having separate, different records that were never checked against each other. I'm sure there were problems, especially turf wars where agencies would fight over who "owned" the data and who could change things, but I'd bet it still worked better than having thirty individual agencies all with their own equipment that doesn't synchronize...

        I've been witnessing the consolidation, or at least attempt at, in California. Sometimes they run out of money for the consolidation effort and it is shelved for short term budget reasons against the wisdom of getting it done now to save much more down the road. Turf wars, well, the try to conceal their turf, 'if we don't look after it it'll be a mess' which needs to be beaten back for the greater good. A little pain now for gain later. Government can't keep growing.

        I wouldn't utter a blanket curse at 'Conservatives' growing government - I've lived long enough to see each side of the aisle has its pet projects and is fully capable of spending like "drunken other-side-of-the-aislers" Reagan and GWBush both grew the size of the federal government by significant amounts, without finding a source for the funding, while Clinton (social liberal/fiscal conservative) actully slashed over 100,000 (I think it may have been as high as 300,000 from federal payroll - through consolidation and weeding out things which had lived beyond their mandate.)

        Good to see some of this attention coming back. This is how you cut spending, not by some trumpeted bill in the House or turning the budget screws, but by ferreting out the redundancy or unneeded and removing it.

      • by Nicolai Haehnle (609575) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @10:32PM (#38591918)

        Welcome to topsy-turvy land. We've actually been here for awhile, with "fiscal conservative" presidents and legislatures growing the national debt and supposedly "tax and spend liberal" presidents actually shrinking debt.

        It's bizarre how perverted the discussion has become due to the focus on deficit and debt. There is a reasonable political debate to be had on the question of whether government should be small or large. Should the government be responsible for maintaining basic infrastructure? For education? And so on.

        But these questions should not be confused with discussions about the deficit and debt, at least on the federal level. The deficit is mostly endogenous. That is economist-speak for saying that the deficit is not directly controlled by political decision. Instead, it is largely the result of what happens in the private sector. If the private sector produces a lot of activity, this automatically results in higher tax payments and therefore a lower government deficit. If the private sector is running idle, tax revenue drops while at the same time federal outlays in social programs increase, hence the government deficit increases. Therefore, it is best to just let the deficit be whatever it needs to be. That is the approach of Functional Finance [wikipedia.org], which greatly influenced Modern Monetary Theory [pragcap.com].

        Stop worrying about the deficit or the debt. They are meaningless, red herrings. Start worrying about real things instead, like crumbling infrastructure or high unemployment - both are things that can very easily be fixed simultaneously at the federal level, if the deficit terrorists are finally silenced.

        • It's bizarre how perverted the discussion has become due to the focus on deficit and debt. ...
          Stop worrying about the deficit or the debt. They are meaningless, red herrings.

          Dear Sir,

          Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

          Sincerely

          J. Weidmann
          President
          Deutsche Bundesbank

          WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN DEBT CRISIS? [huffingtonpost.com]

          In its most basic form, it's just this: Some countries in Europe have way too much debt, and now they risk not being able to pay it all back. Simple!

          There's more to it than that, of course, but when people talk about the "crisis," what they're worried about is that a big, scary, flashpoint event will happen -- like one or more of the eurozone

          • It's bizarre how perverted the discussion has become due to the focus on deficit and debt. ...
            Stop worrying about the deficit or the debt. They are meaningless, red herrings.

            Dear Sir,

            Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

            Sincerely

            J. Weidmann
            President
            Deutsche Bundesbank

            ... snip lots of stuff about the Eurozone debt crisis ...

            I appreciate the sarcasm, but it mostly shows that you have either not read about or not understood the implications of MMT. The situation of the Eurozone countries is more like that of US states, since they are currency users, not issuers. They are not monetary sovereigns. In fact, US states have much less debt relative to GDP than the Eurozone countries, and as non-sovereigns, they have to have low levels of debt. The problem is that within a currency, there must be someone with growing levels of debt to

        • by Loki_1929 (550940)

          Stop worrying about the deficit or the debt. They are meaningless, red herrings.

          I'm former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and I approve this message.

          • I'm former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and I approve this message.

            What's with all the sarcasm attempts these days?

            Anyway, just like your sibling comment, you have to understand the difference between a monetarily sovereign government like the US federal government, and a government that is only a currency users, such as the Greek government. And just like your sibling comment, you may find a look at the Eurozone situation [economonitor.com] from an MMT perspective interesting.

            Also see my reply [slashdot.org] to the sibling comment.

            • by Loki_1929 (550940)

              Actually, the US Federal government is also only a currency user, ever since 1913. The US Dept of the Treasury has no legal authority to create new US Dollars and should Congress remove that authority from the Federal Reserve (a pseudo-private/public institution whose owners are US banks but who is somewhat answerable to the US Congress and the President) in the middle of the mess we're seeing, it would bring about an economic panic that would dwarf any we've heretofore witnessed. Greece, Ireland, and other

              • Actually, the US Federal government is also only a currency user, ever since 1913. The US Dept of the Treasury has no legal authority to create new US Dollars

                The so-called independence of the Fed is all smoke and mirrors. The Fed was created by Congress, it has to operate under the rules set by Congress, and it can be undone by Congress. More importantly, even today the Fed does not operate independently from the Treasury. The Fed and Treasury coordinate their transactions to enable the Fed to manage the bonds market. Seriously, read up on it [pragcap.com].

                a pseudo-private/public institution whose owners are US banks but who is somewhat answerable to the US Congress and the President

                That is quite misleading. Outside of regulatory capture (which is unfortunately a very real thing), the banks have exactl

    • Re:Figures (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mr1911 (1942298) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @07:57PM (#38590762)
      So, what is the national debt again? What was it last year, and the year before?

      The government has grown wildly under all parties. Yeah, I know it is hard to troll when keeping reality in focus.
      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        not under Bill Clinton

        end presidential term limits
      • So, what is the national debt again?

        Funny how distorted the discussion has become. The GP was talking about the size of the government, not the size of the national debt. You can have high deficit small government, and small deficit big government.

        You have to understand that the government deficit is really just the mirror image of the private surplus plus the external surplus [creditwritedowns.com]. Once you understand the sectoral balances (as explained in the linked article), you can chill out about the deficit and debt and start worrying about the things that r

        • by mr1911 (1942298)

          Funny how distorted the discussion has become. The GP was talking about the size of the government, not the size of the national debt. You can have high deficit small government, and small deficit big government.

          OK great. I'll restate for you.

          So, how many federal employees and agencies are there again? How many last year, and the year before?

          The government has grown wildly under all parties. Yeah, I know it is hard to troll when keeping reality in focus.

          • The government has grown wildly under all parties.

            I have not questioned that.

            What I'm saying is that the question of big vs. small government is orthogonal to the question of the government's budget balance. That may seem like hair splitting, but it's really not. When you take a look at Modern Monetary Theory economists, you'll see a very wide variety of political opinion on the question of where they stand on big or small government (Warren Mosler [moslereconomics.com] is a good example, but of course their opinions are usually much more subtle).

            But they all agree that the de

            • by mr1911 (1942298)
              I do not question your distinction between size of government and government spending.

              However, your assumption that deficit spending is a red herring, and even further may be beneficial is flawed. That is the part I consider trolling. However, it is clear that you actually believe it, so it is not trolling but something, as you say, depressing.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      No. What is probably happening is that data centers are being consolidated to locations in Illinois. For some strange reason many of the President's projects favor that state.
  • FEDS NOW PLAN! Argh!! Double check subby, its not that friggen hard!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm counting down the days until the "Feds Now Plan to Open 1,200 Data Centers" Slashdot story when the consolidate/separate pendulum swings back the other way. And don't get me wrong, I'm all for maximizing resource utilization and reducing unnecessary duplication, but do wonder what's being sacrificed in the process. Hopefully just unnecessary PHBs...

  • Government auction? That's a lot of computer bits...

  • by sirwired (27582) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @07:59PM (#38590788)

    3,133 Data Centers? Does some computer-savvy worker taking some initiative to back up the PC's in the Outer Podunk Forestry Station by sticking a cheap NAS box in the closet underneath the shelves of tree-climbing gear count as a "Data Center"?

    • by Sollord (888521)

      Since they include "telcom closets" now the answer is likely yes. I've lots of dumb stuff labeled as a telcom closet

    • by Entrope (68843) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @08:09PM (#38590858) Homepage

      The memos that talk about the data centers make the criteria clear. A "data center is defined as: *Any room that is greater than 500 square feet and devoted to data processing; and, * Meets one of the tier (I, II, III & IV) classifications defined by the Uptime Institute."

      If you are surprised that the US Federal government has more than 3,000 of those -- welcome to the (not-so-)new bureaucracy, trying hard to pretend it is a technocracy.

    • by afidel (530433)
      You think 3,133 datacenters across 1,300 agencies is a lot? No, this is just the number of redundant facilities they are planning to close I'm sure there are five times as many remaining open. Heck even then that's only one datacenter per 150 employees which is high but only about double what my S&P 500 employer has (two for 600 employees).
      • by Firehed (942385)

        There's a big difference between "two for 600 employees" and "one per 300 employees". The former is (likely) 1+backup for all employees, whereas the latter is just wasteful stupidity. I'm guessing if your employer doubles its headcount, it will not expand to four datacenters to support them.

        • by afidel (530433)
          Correct though if it was not for virtualization we would be at three as we were at about 110% of design capacity a few years ago prior to starting a serious VMWare deployment (we had grown from 60 to 170 servers at the primary datacenter, today we're down to 87 and might be at 60 or fewer by the end of the year if we have enough time to virtualize everything we want to in between all our other projects).
      • by Pharmboy (216950)

        Maybe the problem is that the federal government has too many employees to start with. They don't generate wealth or create jobs, so maybe we could start with getting rid of a bunch of those jobs. Starting with the TSA. Next we move to the Drug Czar's office, then the Department of Education.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Sure, the government doesn't generate any wealth whatsoever, they just:

          1) Allow wealth generation to happen at all (by maintaining roads, public transit, police forces, fire departments, and other services necessary to the functioning of a modern society)
          2) Encourage wealth generation indirectly (by providing free or subsidized education that creates a more knowledgeable population, by providing libraries, museums, and other cultural institutes that extend that availability of education (artistic, cultural,

          • by MacDork (560499)
            The government generates plenty of wealth. They print money and hand it out to bankers on wallstreet in bailouts. They like to call it "Quantitative Easing" I believe. "Printing money and giving it to the wealthy ruling class while making everyone else collectively poorer via inflation" is so much more difficult to say.
            • by afidel (530433)
              Yes, QE does contribute to inflation, but inflation is not what you should be worrying about unless you are retired or nearing retirement, instead you should be worried about possible deflation. Inflation is a slow death through a thousand papercuts, deflation is death by a broadsword. I know I probably continue to have a job because of QE, I work in an industry that is absolutely reliant on access to capital, if the money supply starts to seriously constrain it's possible it would destroy my employer (as i
              • by MacDork (560499)
                I'm pointing out the method is bad. The uneven distribution of new money is my core issue here. It gives the central bankers unlimited power.
          • by Pharmboy (216950)

            Everything in your list is something that the individual states provide, NOT the federal government. Or at least it used to be that way.

            If I have a problem with local roads, police, schools, etc. then I should be able to go to my city, or at the very worst, my state capital to protest. When the Federal government takes stuff over, no one will listen unless I pad their pockets with cash.

            • by afidel (530433)
              Really, states funded basic science research? Other than California and a few other states I'm not aware of any serious state level funding for research of any kind. Also having just completed a 2,500 mile road trip let me assure you that state highways suck compared to interstate highways.
              • by Pharmboy (216950)

                Half of the money for interstates comes from the state, not the feds. And the feds are fine helping with some interstates, the Constitution grants that authority under the "interstate commerce" clause. I drive a lot in NC, TX, VA, and the state highways aren't bad, so not sure where you live.

                It used to be that scientific research was done by Universities (state supported) and private enterprise. I don't think that is such a bad thing. After the fiasco with the govt. "investing" in solar technology, I th

                • by afidel (530433)
                  The problem with Solara isn't that the government invested in them, it's that the Chinese government invested 20x as much in the competition in order to take over the market.
                  • by Pharmboy (216950)

                    So instead of giving them 500 million dollars, we should have given them 10 billion? No, the problem was that Solara padded Obama's pockets, they were in difficulties before the cash infusion, and there is nothing to show for our 500 million dollars. I noticed all their top position people never missed a paycheck as well.

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      I'd suspect it's something pretty close to that. Not necessarily everyone with a box that they call a server, but more likely every department who allocated a space as a "server room" or "datacenter". Someone else said it had to be 500 sq/ft with some other qualifications.

      I do wonder if there are, for example, multiple agencies with their own spaces at places like Equinix.

      Having so many diverse spaces is good for no single point of failure, but bad for manage

  • The unemployment rate for servers is going to skyrocket.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @08:15PM (#38590898)

    I applaud the efforts to consolidate and streamline government to prevent waste. However, the government, at least in Homeland Security, has no idea what they are doing when it comes to managing the data centers. They want to consolidate ALL Homeland Security assets into TWO data centers. Firstly, from a security perspective, two isn't really enough...need a bit more diversity than that (though certainly not the hundreds out there).

    Worse yet is that one is not even owned by the government, but rather a Fortune computer company...which means that when the contract is up, they can increase the rates exorbitantly so, and the government has nothing they can do about it. Why? Because otherwise they would need to migrate all of these systems, which takes several years, at least. Way to go.

    The contracts are already so screwed up...e.g. if we need to recable a government system, and we go and do the work, the company which owns the datacenter contract still gets paid as if they did the work. But we have to do it, because they always screw it up. Whoever wrote those contracts should be shot by us tax-payers.

    Further, both are in flood zones, one is in a frequent hurricane zone (lightning/wind already took out our power systems once), and both are relatively east coast...really poor choices, geographically.

    Oh right, and let's not forget that with all these systems migrating over, we are now seeing significant power and space concerns in the data centers. Shocked? Did the government ever determine the combined, used square footage of existing data centers and compare that with the data centers we are migrating to? I doubt it, or we wouldn't have such stupid issues. I'm sorry, but these data centers the government is migrating to are large, but by no means the largest I've ever seen. And they expect over 3000 data centers to roll up in them.

    It's like they never went to kindergarten and are trying to jam a massive round ball into a tiny square hole with a big plastic hammer.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Guy's dead on. I see it, too. For extra fun, sometimes "closing" a data center means throwing away all the working equipment and buying completely new equipment to replace it in a different data center. I have no earthly idea how they think they're going to save any money. They just get a metric in their head and run with it. Fewer data centers is better, no matter what, right?

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      I feel your pain.

      > if we need to recable a government system, and we go and do the work, the company which owns the datacenter contract still gets paid as if they did the work. But we have to do it, because they always screw it up.

      It's not just governments that trap themselves into this kind of contract.

      • by Cylix (55374) *

        Indeed, at a previous employer one group of our data centers or co-locations had some pretty lousy techs. I had worked over the phone to remotely have some one off equipment cabled up and it was complete fail sauce. Eventually, I decided to stop wasting our money as I was scheduled to go out to do maintenance anyway. My cabling worked quite fine and the time they wasted would have paid for the flight and hotel.

        Oddly, they had to borrow my onsite equipment to do the work as well. We kept fully stocked shelve

    • by shentino (1139071)

      Actually if the data centers contracted do shoddy work can't they be pursued for breach or a false claims act?

      Just because it's the feds doesn't mean its magically ok to screw them.

    • by mtmra70 (964928)

      Same thing is happening at my work. They are doing massive DC consolidation to the east coast. The fail-over DC is also on the east coast. Smart thinking!!!

      What also gets me is part of the consolidation is for possible company divestitures. The only thing is they want to close a DC in a bldg where the potential divestiture will occur. So we close a DC only to sell the business in the bldg requiring them to reopen a DC and migrate everything back into it.

    • Gotta agree. I know of more than one USAF owned Data Center that have less than 25% usage. Instead of consolidating USAF resources into the unused and almost brand new datacenter on an USAF owned and operated installation we are putting resources into the IBM owned and operated ABL and paying IBM for the privilege.

      Why not consolidate into your own facilities? Because the US CIO made some off-hand comment about the ABL and consolidating into and all of a sudden that is the directive when the CIO meant consol

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sadly I wish we knew 100% for sure these closures and other initiatives were about really saving money. Look at the very one-sided, corporate-commercial-cloud-services-or-die Defense bill recently signed into law. Someone just got a huge lobbying bonus.

    Now there's a great idea, let's put highly sensitive DoD traffic into the same data centers as any other person can buy space into... instead of using the DoD's own cloud computing centers that are located in secure facilities, have dedicated staff with clear

  • Please lie to me and tell me this will be followed by government auction colos, with fat pipes already laid. Might be a good time to pick up rack space cheap. Or we might be just looking at lists of broom closets with two poweredge 1850s in them.

    Seriously though, federal auctions are the best place to get used, yet reasonably current hardware cheap. I got a laptop a year ago which still has warranty left that way (had to add a hdd).

  • by JBMcB (73720)

    The FAA has it's headquarters in DC (makes sense) major offices in Seattle (Boeing/Aerospace) and Chicago (Boeing and major flight hub) - all make sense. The FAA's big data center is in... Oklahoma City.

  • Why don't you close down those "datacenters" in the phone company closets, too.
  • So, anyone know where I can go to try and purchase some of this hardware? My guess is it will be sold off extremely cheap.

    Need a few more dev servers!

  • by lucm (889690) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @09:00PM (#38591274)

    They are not needed anymore because:

    1) the big hardware vendors already made their money
    2) the contractors who installed and configured the hardware already made their money
    3) the corrupt purchasing officials have already made their money from the bribes they got from the hardware vendors and the contractors
    4) the software vendors will keep racking up software maintenance fees since all those physical servers will become VMs

    It's called "greed computing".

    • by berashith (222128)

      wow, this is painful. There truly is no money to be made from letting a sleeping dog lie. As government budgets must be spent, and there is rarely anyone that actually avoids useless spending of this money, then obviously the thing to do when all installations are done and running is not maintain and monitor, but to scrap it all and rebuild a new way. If this initiative is brought to large scale public attention, we will get to see a lot of spin on job creation and "green-ness".

  • Of course the results of any government mandated reduction is an explosion of growth. The first thing to happen is an audit to identify all these facilities. It gets passed up the food chain where some under deputy flunky discovers the true size of his or her empire. Then they all move in unison to protect their own at everyone else's expense. This results in everything being reclassified as critical, they are all protected and then they discover how to exploit their own budget process to make them grow and

  • You probably do not want the equipment from the closed Data Centers: It is End of Live & does not have manufacturer support.

    We have virtualized something like ~200 physical servers in our Data Center. Most were End Of Life (HP DL G4 360's and 380's) and were virtualized instead of replaced.

    Our main DataCenter (Class 2?) has functionally freed more than 1/2 of it's space, and had departmental servers from "other Server Rooms" (aka: 10'x25' rooms with two racks) moved down there.

    Do you really want

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