Agencies Are Adapting to New DCOI Metrics

Published: October 31, 2019

Data Center

Metrics on the updated Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) posted on the ITDashboard indicate that agencies are still adapting to the new guidance that was finalized in June 2019.

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.

In June, OMB published final updated guidance for 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 and return on investment (ROI). A draft of the updated guidance was released in November 2018, and agencies are expected to provide data and metrics for the entirety of FY 2019 conforming to the new guidelines.

The updated guidance encourages agencies to focus on applications, rather than infrastructure alone in their data center optimization efforts. This may require them to modernize legacy applications using APIs, microservices, and cloud computing. 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.

Earlier this week, third-quarter DCOI data for FY 2019 was released on the ITDashboard.  The chart below shows the government-wide closure status for valid tiered data center facilities.

The June guidance changed the definitions of data center categories. The new definition of a “tiered” data center is a “purpose-built physically separate and dedicated space.” The new DCOI guidance also established Key Mission Facilities (KMF) allowing agencies more latitude in requesting an exemption from consolidation requirements.  Agencies can now request an exemption from DCOI requirements for mission-critical or non-severable systems and services, such as “weather stations, air traffic control systems, and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.” Although individual tiered data centers that fall within these categories may receive an exemption from OMB, they are still encouraged to optimize for energy and operational efficiency.

The chart shows that agencies are still in the process of classifying data centers as KMFs, because the number of KMFs is going up while the number of open data centers going down. Some of the downward trend for the “open” data center category is also due to closures.

I’m presenting the data as it appears on the ITDashboard. I’ve been unable to interpret the FY 2020 goal for data center closures.  Since it appears with the data for valid tiered data centers, we would assume that the goal is to close 2,279 total valid tiered data centers in FY 2020. But to date, the total number of valid tiered data centers that appears on this chart is only 2,089 which includes 935 KMFs, and KMFs are exempt from consolidation requirements. It could be possible that this closure goal is held over from the former DCOI metrics/goals and has not been deleted or updated to conform to the new guidance.

The chart below shows the classification of open valid tiered data centers by agency for those with the most data centers. The following chart shows closures and closure goals by agency for valid tiered data centers.

Treasury is not included in the charts above because the numbers they’ve submitted to the ITDashboard seem odd. Treasury shows three open regular tiered data centers and twelve KMFs.  However for closures, the department shows 31 currently closed valid tiered data centers, but a closure goal of 1,853 valid tiered data centers. Again this closure goal may be an old metric that has not yet been changed on the ITDashboard.

The chart below shows the status of virtualization government-wide based on the number of virtual hosts and servers. 

The third quarter statistics show that virtualization is increasing by the percentage of virtual hosts to the number of servers.  The total number of servers is also decreasing while the number of virtual hosts is increasing.  The increase in the number of servers and the corresponding drop in the percentage of virtualization from the first quarter to the second is likely due to agencies finalizing inventory counts for the new metrics rather than an actual jump in the number of servers.

Federal contractors should continue to see opportunities to assist agencies with data center consolidation and optimization efforts over the next few years. Potential opportunities can be found in the areas of application rationalization, infrastructure modernization, cloud migration, and shared service migration.