DHS wants to revamp data centers, move to cloud

The Homeland Security Department is looking for industry advice on how it can overhaul its data centers and make better use of the cloud.

NOTE: This article first appeared on FCW.com.

The Department of Homeland Security is looking for industry advice about how to consolidate two main enterprise computing data centers and modernize with a more cloud-based infrastructure.

According to a request for information released Feb. 19, the department is pursuing "a hybrid, multi-cloud, federated and vendor neutral" cloud strategy and wants to make better use of automation, shared services and analytics while getting rid of fixed costs, such as data centers.

Respondents should have experience "rapidly modernizing and migrating on premise, federal applications to internal private clouds, other data center environments, and FedRAMP certified cloud service providers," the RFI stated.

DHS established a steering group last year designed to better focus its efforts on implementing a comprehensive, multi-cloud environment across the department and migrating legacy applications. The department currently has 6 percent of its 628 applications in the cloud and has set a target to have 30 percent migrated by next year.

The effort was designed to be led by DHS component agencies and based on their individual computing needs, while giving headquarters more visibility and continuous monitoring of applications and security in the cloud.

The department is also laying the groundwork for further consolidating its data center footprint. The RFI said DHS headquarters and components were told by Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady to make "appropriate plans" to prepare for the pending expiration of contracts for its two main enterprise computing centers, dubbed Data Center 1 and Data Center 2, in Mississippi and Virginia.

FCW has learned that the department plans to eventually close Data Center 2 when its existing contract with HP expires in June 2020, moving some systems and physical equipment to the Mississippi location while migrating the remaining systems to the cloud. Data Center 2 supports 10 component agencies, 133 systems and 8,000 devices.

Meanwhile, the department will "continue to host and operate a number of systems on premise at Data Center 1," according to the RFI, but will look to further shrink and optimize space and computing power there as well.

The two locations have served as the primary anchor points for previous departmental data center consolidation efforts, but there is continued pressure from the Office of Management and Budget to consolidate further, and the department wants to move toward more of a hybrid environment with increased reliance on commercial and private cloud providers.

Responses are due March 20, 2019.