The Office of Management and Budget released a new draft version of the Data Center Optimization Initiative, designed to update agency guidance and metrics for closing and consolidating data centers to reflect a better understanding of the most valuable data center actions agencies can take.

OMB first released guidance on data center optimization, called the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, in 2010, followed by a 2016 Data Center Optimization Initiative memorandum that put federal data center consolidation efforts in line with requirements established by the 2014 Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act.

Those requirements for agencies to optimize and consolidate their data centers were scheduled to sunset Oct. 1, 2018.

But upon realizing that the federal data center problem was more expansive than legislators had initially thought, Congress passed the FITARA Enhancement Act Nov. 21, 2017, to extend those deadlines until Oct. 1, 2020.

The new draft proposal would guide optimization efforts through the new 2020 deadline.

“After eight years of work in consolidating and closing federal data centers, OMB has seen diminishing returns from agencies resulting from their closures. Much of the ‘low-hanging’ fruit of easily consolidated infrastructure has been picked, and to realize further efficiencies will require continued investment to address the more complex areas where savings is achievable,” federal CIO Suzette Kent wrote in the draft policy.

“While optimization will be the new priority, consolidation and closures should continue wherever applicable. OMB will focus on targeted improvements in key areas where agencies can make meaningful improvements and achieve further cost savings.”

The draft policy modifies the previous DCOI by adjusting or removing metrics that OMB said did not provide measurable improvements or were too poorly formulated for agencies to adequately meet, while adding one new metric that measures the availability of data center facilities.

“OMB will require agencies to report the planned hours of availability for each data center, as well as any unplanned outages for that data center over the reporting period, also measured in hours,” Weichert wrote.

“Unavailability will include unplanned outages of a majority of the facility due to disaster, systems failure, cybersecurity events or other negative events, as well as any other hours that would otherwise be planned as available hours.”

The draft policy would remove the metric for data center energy efficiency, as differences in size, geography and time of year make it near impossible to compare the energy efficiency of two different data centers.

“For instance, an extremely efficient data center in a warmer part of the country can easily register a higher [power usage effectiveness] than an inefficient data center in a colder climate, but agency mission may determine the location of that facility,” Kent wrote.

“The intent of energy efficiency under DCOI is to drive savings through lowered energy usage, but there is an upper bound on the savings gained through this optimization. Although OMB will continue to collect PUE as part of the inventory reporting for statistical purposes, it will no longer set a target for PUE or use this metric to judge improvement over time.”

Agencies will still be responsible for developing data center optimization strategic plans, submitting those plans to OMB and reporting quarterly on how agency initiatives have met the goals outlined in their plans.

The policy focuses heavily on the new White House Cloud Smart initiative, which, as an expansion on its predecessor Cloud First, emphasized migrating applications to the cloud that deliver the greatest monetary and efficiency returns.

Feedback on the new policy can be submitted through GitHub or to the federal CIO email and are due Dec. 26, 2018.