Federal Data Center Consolidation and the Case for Colocation

By: In: Data Centers On: Oct 29, 2014

Launched in 2010 by the Federal CIO, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) aims to cut costs by consolidating approximately 1,000 federal government data centers. As recently reported by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), the FDCCI is expected to save U.S. taxpayers $1.1 billion dollars by the end of fiscal 2015. However, a September GAO Study states that the estimated $1.1 billion in cost savings may be higher due to six agencies reporting limited or no savings. These six agencies have encountered difficulties in reporting, such as calculating baseline data center costs.

Why is it so hard to calculate savings? A recent article in Federal Computer Week showcases various opinions. However, I find Virginia Representative Gerry Connolly’s take particularly interesting because he goes beyond cost savings and takes a more holistic view.

Connolly believes that the report reinforces his concern that four years into the initiative, people are losing sight of its long-term goals, which include reducing operational costs, promoting “Green IT,” moving IT investments into more efficient computing platforms (such as the Cloud) and enhancing IT security.

After reading Connolly’s opinion, it struck me –data center colocation can help the federal government meet all of these goals. Colocation providers, such as Iron Mountain, can help reduce the cost of data center operations while enhancing security, promoting Green IT and accelerating the transition to the cloud.

Reduce Operating Cost

By collocating with Iron Mountain, the federal government can leverage a shared infrastructure and support resources instead of investing heavily in their own in-house data center deployments. Colocation can provide economies of scale that are not possible with internal deployments. Iron Mountain’s data center colocation customers enjoy the economies of scale that come from renting space, power, cooling and bandwidth under one roof. At the same time, they gain access to employees that offer exceptional operational skills. We employ a highly trained security staff as well as degreed mechanical, electrical and network engineers.

Enhance IT Security

Iron Mountain’s Underground is considered one of the safest places on the planet. Located 220 feet below the surface, this data center facility offers robust security features, including:

  • Level IV security as defined by the US Department of Justice
  • 24/7 armed guards monitor the facility via closed circuit cameras
  • Access protected by a three-ton steel gate
  • Perimeter security fencing
  • Vehicle crash barriers prohibit unauthorized entry
  • Iron Mountain employees provide 24/7 year-critical facilities and NOC staffing

Promote Green IT

When it comes to promoting Green IT, Iron Mountain’s National Underground Data Center is truly a remarkable. The Underground is located in an abandoned mine 220 feet below ground. The facility spans 145 acres and uses a massive underground lake for cooling. The geothermal properties of an underground location allow Iron Mountain to use Mother Nature to cool our data centers. The limestone walls and ceilings absorb heat and provide consistent temperatures of about 52 degrees F. The low ambient temperature and geothermal cooling enable a very low designed Power Utilization Effectiveness (PUE), leading to lower energy costs and “Green IT.”

Accelerate the Transition to the Cloud

Along with FDCCI, federal government, agencies also must comply with the administration’s Cloud First policy to “maximize capacity utilization, improve IT flexibility and responsiveness, and minimize cost.” With colocation, a government agency can start the transition to the cloud by outsourcing its infrastructure with a colocation provider that offers strong security standards and the ability to meet FISMA compliance. This first step will help federal agencies gain the benefits of cloud computing with the flexibility they need to rapidly scale capacity up or down based on their business needs. This flexibly will enable increased responsiveness to changing mission requirements. Plus when you outsource your data center, you get a predictable monthly expense, which should certainly help with reporting. With colocation, there is no question about baseline data center costs.

Together, FDCCI and data center colocation are a match made in heaven. To learn more about Iron Mountain Data Centers, please visit www.ironmountain.com/datacenters.

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About the author

Carol Genis

Carol Genis is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Iron Mountain Data Centers. In this role, she is responsible for the communication of integrated solutions that allow our customers to extract more value from their data center deployments. Prior to joining Iron Mountain, Ms. Genis served in similar roles at IBM and Hewlett-Packard. Follow me on Twitter @CGenis