Draft Data Center Guidance Aims to Improve Cost Savings

Published: November 29, 2018

Data Center

On Monday, OMB published a draft update to the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) which aligns it more closely with FITARA objectives and refocuses the effort on projects that drive the most cost savings.

Since 2010 the federal government has made a concerted effort to consolidate and optimize data centers, first with the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) and then in FY 2016 with the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). The initiatives have been aimed at modernizing IT infrastructures, achieving cost savings and shoring up cybersecurity. DCOI goals were originally to be met by the end of FY 2018.  However, the FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017 extended the deadlines to October 1, 2020.

Although agencies have made great strides in consolidating and optimizing data centers, to date they have failed to achieve data center closure, facility utilization, energy metering, virtualization, or cost savings targets on a government-wide basis. The new guidance states that OMB has seen diminishing returns on data center closures over the last eight years. The new policy is meant to refocus efforts in key areas that promise “meaningful improvements and achieve further cost savings.”

The draft guidance once again changes the definitions of the categories of data centers.  The former definition of a “tiered” data center excluded spaces such as server closets that lacked a backup generator.  The new guidance will treat these facilities as full-fledged data centers. The new definition of a “tiered” data center is a “purpose-built physically separate and dedicated space.”

OMB states that agencies have seen few cost savings and ROI from consolidation or optimization of non-tiered data centers.  For this reason, OMB will no longer require agencies to consolidate or report metrics on these server closets, telecom closets, individual print and file servers, or single computers acting as servers. In addition, agencies will not include them in their inventory submissions.

The former DCOI guidance set specific metrics and targets across the agencies that were then reported as an agency average. According to the new guidance, these metrics “did not yield transparency into how effectively or efficiently an agency is running data centers, or whether the agency is improving over time.” The new guidance states that moving forward, OMB will not use averages for metrics or set arbitrary goals.

The new guidance and metrics are much less prescriptive and allow agencies and OMB to set goals and targets on a case by case basis.  The main intent is to see improvement in metrics over time rather than to set arbitrary targets.

A comparison of the original DCOI goals and targets with that of the draft guidance, is shown below:


Original DCOI Targets

New Draft Guidance Targets

Development Freeze for New and Current Data Centers

Agencies may not budget any funds or resources toward initiating a new data center or significantly expanding an existing data center without OMB approval.

No Change

Tiered Data Center Closures


No Target

Non-Tiered Data Center Closures


No Target

Cost Savings

Agency and OMB collectively set

Agency and OMB collectively set

Energy Metering


OMB will continue to track agencies’ implementations of advanced energy metering by measuring the number of facilities with a majority of the space having this metering. Agencies will be able to request an exemption for individual facilities where it is not cost effective to install this monitoring.  No specific metric to meet.

Facility Utilization


Metric removed.

Server Utilization and Automated Monitoring


Promotes use of automated infrastructure management tools such as Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM). See below for new server utilization metric.

Under-Utilized Production Servers (replaces server utilization)

Not tracked

New Metric - Agencies are to report the number of under-utilized production servers in each data center, with the intent that agencies should reduce the number of these servers over time.



Agencies are to report the number of servers and mainframes that are currently serving as hosts for virtualized or containerized systems in their agency-managed data centers, including cloud investments.  No specific metric to meet.

Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)

<=1.5 for existing data centers

<=1.4 for new data centers

Will continue to track, but no specific metric to meet.


Not Tracked

New Metric - Agencies are to report planned hours of availability for each data center, as well as any unplanned outages for that data center over the reporting period.

The guidance instructs agencies to continue to reduce application, system and database inventories by increasing the use of virtualization.  It also encourages agencies to consider cloud technologies as mandated in the Cloud Smart strategy.  It also suggests agencies migrate to provisioned services, shared services, co-located data centers or existing more optimized data centers.

OMB will no longer require GSA to establish and maintain a data center shared services marketplace. However, GSA shall continue to maintain the Cloud and Data Center Optimization Initiative Program Management Office (CDCOI PMO) to serve as a trusted agent, information broker, and subject matter expert to assist data center providers and consumers of data center services.  The office will continue to provide guidance on technology advancements, innovation, cybersecurity, acquisition and data center best practices.

The draft guidance is open to public feedback. Comments are due on or before December 26th. Once approved, the new guidance will replace the original DCOI guidance.

For more information on the status of federal data center consolidation and optimization, see Deltek’s report, Federal Priorities Spotlight: Data Center Optimization.