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DoD data centers could stymie federal energy savings goals, report says

Jul. 16, 2012 - 05:43PM   |  
By NICOLE BLAKE JOHNSON   |   Comments

The Defense Department’s growing demand for data center services could stagnate federal efforts to curb energy costs through data center consolidation, according to a new report.

The administration’s consolidation initiative could reduce energy use short term, but “in the face of what is likely to be continuously increasing demand for datacenter services, gains from consolidation and improved efficiency are expected to plateau, with energy use resuming an upward trajectory,” according to a July 12 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report about DoD data center consolidation efforts. A copy of the report was posted online (PDF) by the Federation of American Scientists.

DoD accounts for 63 percent of the energy consumed by federal buildings and facilities, the report noted. Power consumption varies among data centers but is typically higher than in other types of buildings. The report cites the Federal Energy Management Program as saying that data centers consume up to 100 times the energy of a typical office building.

DoD expects to save about $58 million annually in energy costs from 2013 to 2018, according to its data center consolidation plan released in November. Other savings will come from reduced operations and maintenance and construction costs.

But the savings estimate doesn’t include upfront costs needed to shut down servers and transfer applications to other existing centers or to new, state-of-the-art data centers, which will have increased operational costs, the plan said. DoD intends to use initial savings to fund future consolidations but has not publicly released cost estimates for consolidation.

The CRS report said accurate energy use data are not available for most federal data centers.

Governmentwide, tracking savings will be difficult “in the absence of accurate and complete baseline measurements of energy and other costs,” the report said.

DoD’s current goal is to eliminate 428 of its 772 data centers by fiscal 2015, as part of an administration effort to consolidate more than 1,000 federal data centers by then. DoD has more than twice the number of data centers of any federal agency, according to OMB data. .

By 2013, DoD plans to eliminate 240 centers:

• 96 of the Army’s 250, bringing the number down to 154.

• 20 of the Air Force’s 137, bringing the number to 117.

• One of the Navy’s 78, bring the number to 77.

• Four of the combatant commands 25, bring the number to 21.

• 119 of the remaining 282, bring their number to 163.

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