Saturday, November 25, 2017

NASA teaches lesson to other US gov’t agencies

Cross-Federal initiative to reduce data centre footprint has shut down 4,400 facilities across the US but 5,600 remain active with many awaiting to be switched off.

Data centre consolidation has been in the agenda of the US government for some years, but more often than not news break that objectives are lagging behind and delays are constant.

However, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, otherwise known as NASA, has successfully implemented the Data Center Optimisation Initiative’s (DCOI) recommendations to reduce its data centre footprint.

The DCOI is part of former president Barack Obama’s Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act.

The space agency is now in a good place to meet its 2018 target of reducing 59 facilities to 20 data centres. NASA has already closed 33 data centres, leaving it with only six to go, according to Meritalk.

Karen Petraska, program executive for computing services at NASA, told the news site that 20 data centres would be the minimum for the agency to conduct its works without disruption.

Dave Powner, director of IT issues at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), added that other Federal agencies are far from reaching the DCOI’s goals.

According to the GAO, Federal agencies have shut down 4,400 data centres, however, 5,600 still remain active.

Powner said NASA joings the Departments of Agriculture, Treasury, and Justice as the few agencies that have so far successfully followed the plan to decrease the number of data centres.

A recent example of a US department failing to comply with the stipulated deadlines was the Department of Defence, whose data centre consolidation project hit a “virtual standstill”.

Petraska said: “Some agencies have a lot more complex data centres and politics. It could be any number of things.

“Older things are hard to move. Big things are hard to move. There is some inertia there.”

She continued to said that the reason why NASA has managed to achieve the outcome it has reached was down to the agency taking a pretty strong project management approach from the beginning.

“It was a team effort throughout NASA,” Petraska said. “It certainly helps to have a collaborative relationship and management support. These things are inconvenient and require a lot of coordination and a lot of planning.”