Why can't agencies track data center consolidation savings?

Federal agencies significantly trail their private sector counterparts when it comes to tracking the key metrics that determine data center consolidation savings, according to a newly released survey.

The federal government’s move to cloud computing includes shutting some 800 data savings by 2015 for a projected savings of nearly $19 billion, but agencies significantly trail the private sector when it comes to tracking the key metrics that determine those savings, a newly released survey concludes.

MeriTalk, a government analysis organization, on behalf of NetApp, a provider of storage and data management solutions, surveyed 157 federal IT decision-makers in April and May to determine how well agencies were using metrics to measure data center consolidation savings and increasing efficiencies as they consolidate.

The respondents included 65 percent from the federal civilian agencies, 26 percent from the Defense Department and intelligence community, and 9 percent from systems integrators.

According to the findings, only 42 percent of federal IT decision-makers said their departments have an incentive to achieve data center savings, including savings that will be realized by budgets outside IT.

In fact, fewer than 50 percent of the respondents said their agency tracks key data efficiency metrics and only 23 percent said their IT offices had systems in place to track full data center savings.

Fewer than 50 percent of respondents said they track key storage efficiency metrics, such as capacity allocation and consumption, provisioning time and incident metrics, although they consume about 12 percent of typical data center budgets.

In fact, only 23 percent admitted knowing the power usage effectiveness at their data centers, compared to 82 percent in the private sector.

Also, whereas 94 percent of the private sector knows their average load across their data centers, just 31 percent of the federal respondents do.

The survey also found that agencies do not agree on what metrics to track to determine data center consolidation savings.

In response to the statement, “My agency will use savings from our data center consolidation efforts to help fund our move to cloud computing,” 23 percent agreed, another 23 percent disagreed, 29 percent were neutral and 25 percent didn’t know.

In conclusion, the survey organizers offered four suggestions to the federal sector to help correct the situation:

  • Standardize data center efficiency metrics
  • Leverage private-sector best practices
  • Provide IT leaders with visibility of non-IT costs
  • Communicate incentives and clarify savings reinvestment plans