Because of their continued growth, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a mandate – known as the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) – to establish efficiency levels that federal data centers must meet by the end of FY2018. Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is one of the metrics that will be used to benchmark, measure and manage these performance levels.

Although the mandate is specifically for federal data centers, nearly any data center could deploy the suggested strategies to reduce operating costs and save energy. Here’s a quick overview of the DCOI initiative’s history, its current status and its roadmap for the future.

DCOI Background and Current Requirements

In 2010, the OMB developed the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) to encourage government agencies to implement green tools, systems and alternatives to reduce capital and operating expenses and strengthen IT security in data centers. They were also encouraged to consider cloud-based solutions to develop efficient computing platforms and take advantage of fresh data center technologies.

In December 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) into law. It enabled FDCCI, and added reporting requirements like data center inventories, multi-year reduction and optimization strategies, metrics, schedules with end dates, annual cost reductions and investments, and public reporting requirements.

On Aug. 2, 2016, the FDCCI was replaced by the current DCOI. This updated mandate requires that all agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, develop and report on strategies to consolidate legacy IT infrastructure, optimize current data center facilities, improve overall data center security, reduce energy use and use cloud-based services.

DCOI specifics include:

  • A freeze on data center construction. Agencies can’t build new data centers or add new infrastructure to existing data centers without submitting a cost-benefit analysis and proof of exploring colocation or cloud services.
  • Consolidating and closing existing data centers. Agencies are mandated to implement virtualization tools and strategies, including software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS); moving to another inter-agency data center; moving to a colocation data center; and migrating to an optimized data center within the agency.
  • Use of cloud services. Cloud services are strongly encouraged, and are managed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) under the requirements set forth by the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) requirements.

The DCOI mandate also provided a description of data centers and optimization requirements:

  • Data Center Classification
    • Rooms containing one server (for production, testing, staging and development) are considered data centers
    • Rooms containing printer servers, routing equipment, network switches, security firewalls or other telecommunications-related equipment are not considered data centers
  • Group Descriptions
    • All data centers are classified as tiered data centers if they have all of the following:
      • Dedicated space for IT equipment
      • Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)
      • Dedicated cooling systems or “zones”
      • Standby power supply (i.e. diesel generators)
    • Facilities that do not contain the systems noted for tiered data centers and private-sector cloud data centers are considered non-tiered data centers
  • Power Metering and Efficiency
    • Power-metering systems (designed to measure and capture energy data) shall be installed in all agency data centers by Sept. 30, 2018; all tiered federal data centers are required to measure and track PUE by Sept. 30, 2018
    • All existing tiered data centers are required to maintain a PUE of less than 1.5 by Sept. 30, 2018
    • New data centers must be designed and operated to maintain a PUE of no greater than 1.4, and are encouraged to design and operate data centers at a PUE of 1.2 or less
    • PUE performance monitoring for cloud services is not required

DCOI has three primary goals:

  • Goal 1:  Optimizing the federal data center portfolio through things like energy metering, PUE targets, virtualization, server utilization and automated monitoring, and facility utilization
  • Goal 2: Cost savings and avoidance, with $2.7 billion in total savings by the end of FY2018
  • Goal 3: Close 25% of tiered data centers and 60% of non-tiered data centers by the end of FY2018, with an overall reduction goal of 52% of all federal data centers (a goal of reducing 31% of gross data center floor area)

Download our 10 Steps to Holistic Data Center Design white paperDCOI Results to Date

The OMB is required to provide the public with a current IT dashboard that shows real-time progress for all agencies according to the three goals listed above. The dashboard provides current metrics on tiered and non-tiered data center closure goals, servers taken offline, total square footage reduction and total electricity usage reduction.

Future DCOI Roadmap

Although the current DCOI is moving toward achieving the goals set forth in the 2016 mandate, the path toward completing the goals is unclear based on the current White House Administration’s view on consolidating IT resources.

In an age of battling cybercrime and cybersecurity, the future could bring fewer computing facilities to serve agency needs, but more computing services and platforms to decrease federal data center system vulnerability.

Belden has data center solutions that can help you run your data center more efficiently, consolidate operations and take advantage of cloud solutions when applicable. Learn more here.