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The Government Is Making A Federal Case For Data Centers

May 3, 2017

Federal government agencies face many of the same challenges enterprise organizations face. The top priority, not surprisingly, is data storage and protection. The days of government-run, in-house data centers run by federal agencies and their employees, is quickly coming to an end. Well, maybe not so quickly, after all it is the government. But there is change on the horizon. With the proliferation of new technologies, massive amounts of data consumption, and a cyber war that makes data security paramount, third-party data centers for federal agencies are becoming the norm.

Once federal systems integrators, also known as FSIs, start to weigh not only the cost benefits, but also the ability to maintain, run, upgrade and future-proof the facility, the decision becomes clear.


Shed no tears for non-tiered data centers

If you are an FSI, you are familiar with the DCOI, the Data Center Optimization Initiative. Or at least you should be. On August 1, 2016, the DOCI was established. It requires federal agencies to develop and report on data center strategies to consolidate inefficient infrastructures, optimize existing facilities, improve security posture, achieve cost savings, and transition to more efficient infrastructure, such as cloud services and inter-agency shared services.

Let’s start with the definition of tiered and non-tiered data centers. Simply put, non-tiered equals single-server, or ‘core’ data center, while tiered equals data centers with more than 1 server. According to the DCOI, non-tiered data centers are to be phased out.


Here’s a little glossary that may help:

  • OMB – Office of Management and Budget
  • FDCCI – Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative
  • GSA – General Services Administration
  • OGP – Office of Governmentwide Policy
  • DECP – Data Center Energy Practitioner
  • DCOI – Data Center Optimization Initiative


An FYI for FSIs supporting the DCOI

Federal Systems Integrators play an integral role in the migration from non-tiered to tiered data centers. You need to know some information that can be useful in your assessment and approach to IT infrastructure solutions.

First, comes the question of building a data center versus buying or leasing one. Probably the most important consideration is cost, which usually runs hundreds of millions of dollars to construct, operate and maintain.

You may be aware of the traditional costs associated with building a data center, including land, electricity, physical security and compliance, but there are also some hidden costs that are, well, hidden. It’s called future-proofing and it’s all about predicative usage and usage-based billing. Building a federal data center with low density based on existing usage can severely cap the available power and cooling in a given space. The adverse can also be problematic. Let’s say you build the data center to accommodate higher density than what was ultimately deployed, you may lose all efficiencies related to budgets and operating costs. Then there’s infrastructure redundancy, maintenance of the infrastructure, 24/7/365 security and staffing.


Buy, Buy Baby

So, you’ll take all the above into consideration. Then evaluate your particular situation. Perhaps even consult with a third-party builder who understands the nuances of Federal Data Centers. It all adds up to making a well-informed decision. Here is a breakdown of benefits of buying or leasing a data center.

Mitigate Risk – no long-term operating costs or large capital expenditure

Lower Operating Costs – collocation focuses on driving supply-chain efficiencies

2N Redundancy – virtually eliminate downtime with no single point of failure

Facility Compliance and Security – includes alignment with the Federal Information Security Act

Scalability for future growth – map your capacity needs with a migration plan and data hall customization

Speed to Market – much shorter build times can provide significant savings on construction costs

While building a data center offers benefits such as control, access and independence, most federal systems integrators are leaning toward buying or leasing data center space as the lower costs, scalability, and ability to free up resources for more business-critical endeavors are undeniable.