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TECH WATCH: Data Center Virtualization

Public Perspectives: Michael Sade, GSA
Michael Sade, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Acquisition Management, Federal Acquisition Service talks about Data Center Virtualization in this interview with 1105 Custom Media.  

Q. 1105 Custom Media
Can you describe GSA initiatives in terms of Data Center Consolidation and Virtualization?

A. Sade
Assistant Commissioner John Johnson has the lead within GSA. Currently, John is heading up a working group looking at what we can do for other agencies.


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That entails looking across all of our offerings – our contracts and services – in conjunction with the Public Building Service (PBS). What we are finding is we can provide everything from building energy efficient “Green Data Centers” and outfitting them with equipment from Schedules or through one of our contractors, to some of our Schedules where you completely outsource and remotely locate your Data Center.

There are a growing number of industry partners that are offering green Data Center services on our schedule contracts and through our GWACs as well as through our Network Services contract.


We have that going on in terms of the overall assessment of what we can provide and we are pulling that together with a marketing package to alert our customer agencies as to what we can provide and how they can acquire it.


Q. 1105 Custom Media

Data Center Virtualization is often heralded as “Green”.  How is GSA helping IT buyers in government’s Green efforts?


A. Sade


Using our GSA Advantage – our online buying system as well a library of all of our Schedule contracts and GWACs – one of the things we have done is work with EPA and the Energy Star organization as well as with DOE. We have linked with EPA’s database of Energy Star Certified systems and components, so now that’s a direct feed to Advantage. When we load a catalog into Advantage it will match up and if it is an Energy Star compliant it will get an Energy Star posting or icon indicating it is Energy Star.


In the next version of Advantage due out at the end of 2008, we will also have built into Advantageif someone is acquiring something that is not Energy Star compliant they will get a reminder that pops up requiring them to do a separate justification which is required by the FAR. We are trying to make the system a little more friendly and guide people into the Energy Star products through the electronic ordering system.


Q. 1105 Custom Media

Is GSA consolidating and virtualizing its own Data Centers?


A. Sade


Within GSA itself, John has partnered with CIO Casey Coleman and they are getting ready to run a pilot program assessing our Data Centers to determine how we can move in that direction. We are calling it a pilot because we want to go out there and be a leader in it. We want to learn from that experience so we can better position our offerings and help our customers understand
what it required.


The other thing we are doing is we created a piece of our organization that will be looking at leading edge technologies to determine whether it makes sense to include those on our Schedule, GWACs and Network Services contracts. A lot going on in terms of Green and Virtualization within our offerings and evaluation we are doing and the pilot project for our own GSA Data Centers that we are doing. I think we are leading the charge in that area.


Q. 1105 Custom Media

Is GSA involved in governmentwide optimization efforts?


A. Sade


Yes; in addition, ITS represents GSA on the Executive Steering Committee for the IT Optimization LOB. We are looking at optimization in three areas – one of which is Data Centers.


I think they are coming out (by end of 2008) with a report in terms of benchmarking all of the agencies against industry benchmarks. Gartner is the contractor for that. We will be looking at where the agencies lie against those benchmarks and agencies will have to come up with a plan in terms of improvement.


Armed with that information, we certainly want to be out there helping our customers understand what they can do to reach that optimization. By optimizing and reducing your energy consumption, certainly you are “Going Green” and
saving the taxpayers a great deal of money. Also it improves the overall performance of the data centers as well as increases the security aspect of it.


Q. 1105 Custom Media

Do you have any final thoughts on GSA’s role in Data Center consolidation and Virtualization efforts?


A. Sade


Look to our contracts as already in place and they offer the full spectrum in terms of optimization. If you just want to improve what you have already, we have those solutions through our contracts. If you want Virtualization or completely outsource your Data Center support, look to one of our many offerings on the Schedule program.


As far as “Going Green”, take a look at three things: look at your facilities, your cooling electricity and backup generators and what you can do from a facility standpoint to save; look at hardware servers, so go to Energy Star there; and use software that can maximize the use of servers in the Data Center. When you combine all three you can achieve significant reductions and reduce carbon footprint.


GSA is very committed to “Going Green”. In fact with our Schedules, our long term objective is to not only highlight what is Green on our schedules, the long term strategy is to not carry any items that are not Green. Where there is a good Green solution, that’s what we want to promote and make available to our customers.