US Army plan to shut down 1,900 data centres hits “virtual standstill” forcing state secretary to intervene
Department of Defence has set out plans to close 60% of 3,115 facilities in use as it looks at ways to save money and consolidate its IT needs.
The US Army intention to close 1,869 data centres by 2018 to save up to $1.8bn has hit a “virtual standstill” as the Department of Defence (DoD) has failed to achieve its goals two years in a row.
Army Secretary Eric Fanning has put out an 88-page memorandum directed at high hierarchical personnel within the department, including CIOs.
In the document, Fanning says: “Progress in system and application virtualization and rationalization has been slow, and our data centre closure and consolidation efforts have come to a virtual standstill.
“Every IT system and application presents a potential attack surface to those wishing to affect our readiness to respond when required.
“We can no longer afford the luxury of unconstrained IT expenses nor accept the risk to the Army and the Nation posed by cyber threats directed against Army capabilities.”
During the fiscal year of 2015, the US army spent $8.3bn on a wide range of IT products and services, including IT systems, applications, manpower, and host facilities.
The original plan was to shut down the facilities by 2018, however, progress has been slow and in 2016 the army said it was expecting to close 140 facilities. By August 2016, only 20 had been reported as closed.
The Department of Defence (DoD) had already failed to meet the Federal Data Centre Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) in 2015, when it was expected to have consolidated 40% of the fleet.
According to the DoD, of the 3,115 data centres owned by the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and the Defence Information Systems Agency (DISA) reported in DoD’s Data Center Inventory management (DCIM) system, only 568 (18%) were closed by fiscal yearend.
The 40% reduction in 2015 was expected to translate into savings of $680m, according to the FDCCI.
In a report from March 2016, the state department said: “This occurred because the DoD CIO did not revise DoD’s strategy to meet the 40% goal for data centre reduction after OMB revised the definition of a data centre to include smaller facilities.
“In addition, the DoD CIO did not enforce compliance with the DoD requirement for one installation processing node per installation.”
Army Secretary steps up data centre chase
The statement published now online lists all the computing centres in use by installation across the US and overseas in Germany, Korea, Kwajalein, Japan and Southwest Asia.
The same list stipulates in which quarter of the year between 2017 and 2024 the facilities must come offline.
The new directive now says: “No later than 30 September 2018, only legacy systems and applications with scheduled terminations by 30 September 2020 and with approved waivers and a supporting plan of action and milestones (POA&Ms) will remain on Army networks.
“Waivers are contingent upon these systems and applications continuing to meet the requirements for operating on an Army network.
“No later than 30 September 2025, ensure that all Army commands and installations are compliant with the data centre target detailed in this plan and management oversight is in place to monitor new entries to the Army data centre inventory.”
The document has also set out an implementation plan consisting of six steps divided into two mission-focused phases.
In phase one, the focus will be on mission planning. Steps included in this phase are to first carry out an analysis on discovery and portfolio. This is followed by a migration readiness assessment, a cost-benefit analysis, and migration planning.
Phase two will be for mission execution. This will follow steps to execute the migration, and a quality assurance and steady state.
A detailed schedule for actions has also been set to the different members of the DoD involved in the project.
For example, no later than the fifth working day of each month, all organisations not using the Army Application Migration Business Office (AAMBO) will have to report application migration status to the AAMBO.
Army to launch private cloud
Following the consolidation of the data centres, the army has set out plans to launch the Army Private Cloud – Enterprise (APC-E) environment.
The APC-E is an on-premises, commercial cloud instantiation that is contractor-owned and contractor-operated, according to the statement.
Data centres set to be used in the APC-E roll out include one located at Redstone Arsenal (Alabama), Fort Carson (Colorado), Fort Knox (Kentucky), and Fort Bragg (North Carolina).
Secretary Fanning said: “Reducing the Army’s data centre inventory will enable the Army to make the follow-on transition to its long-term end state of four continental United States (CONUS) Army Enterprise Data Centres (AEDCs) and six outside the continental United States (OCONUS) AEDCs.
“This facilitates implementation of the Army Private Cloud – Enterprise (APC-E) in the 2025 timeframe and is consistent with the Army’s Cloud Computing Strategy (reference g), which leverages approved 000, Federal, and commercial cloud service providers (CSPs).”