Opinions

Virtualization's value in data center consolidation

Ted Girard is vice president of Delphix Federal.

In September, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new report on federal data center consolidation efforts. The encouraging news is that many agencies have experienced noteworthy progress in achieving cost savings since the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) was launched nearly five years ago. But the report also found that agencies are unable to accurately track or forecast savings achieved from consolidation and a significant number of them are still behind on creating consolidation plans.

Thomas Sasala, CTO of the Army's IT Agency, will provide an update on DoD's virtualization efforts in a special free webcast on March 10. Click here for more.

Success Stories

The GAO report made a strong case for innovation in trimming the federal government's massive IT portfolio and transforming the way IT is acquired and managed throughout the government. Of the 24 agencies that are part of the FDCCI, 22 reported achieving cost savings by focusing on cloud computing and virtualization. The following examples illustrate the major impact virtualization is having on four agencies and is solid proof that leveraging virtualization technology can help improve consolidation efforts:

  • Department of Defense: $68 million in estimated savings from efficiencies achieved through virtualization and operating system reductions
  • Department of State: $9 million in estimated savings related to the reduced cost of maintaining physical servers (hardware, power and cooling) due to the agency's virtualization effort
  • National Science Foundation: $1.2 million in cost reduction related to labor, hardware maintenance/updates and reduction of more than 100 legacy servers due to the agency's server virtualization effort
  • Department of Transportation: 62 percent reduction in one of its data center's floor space and reduction of physical servers from 88 to 34 by leveraging virtualization solutions, resulting in reduced operations and maintenance costs and enhanced security protection, scalability and disaster recovery activities

Rationalize, Modernize and Migrate

Data center consolidation goals generally focus on cutting costs, becoming more agile and preparing for growing data volumes and application demands. Because of reduced IT budgets, agencies are having to accomplish these objectives and more with less money and fewer resources. With the 2015 FDCCI deadline looming, agencies wanting to effectively and efficiently accelerate the closure of more data centers and achieve significant cost savings through reductions in hardware, software and operating expenses should explore the benefits of data virtualization.

Thomas Sasala, CTO of the Army's IT Agency, will provide an update on DoD's virtualization efforts in a special free webcast on March 10. Click here for more.

Data virtualization – the process of abstracting different data sources through a single data access layer that delivers integrated information to users and applications in real time – can fast track agencies' consolidation initiatives associated with application rationalization and development, modernization, and cloud migration.

An essential first step requires a full inventory and prioritization of applications, which enables agencies to rationalize which applications need to remain, which need to be consolidated and which can be retired. Application transformation projects significantly increase IT agility and reduce costs. Data virtualization can drastically reduce the time it takes to accelerate new application development by virtualizing copies of databases within minutes for immediate access to use in development, testing, migration and analytics. Agencies are able to distribute these virtual copies throughout the agency ecosystem without adding storage overhead or process delay. By shifting to a virtual, agile approach, agencies can deliver new applications up to 50 percent faster and use up to 90 percent less data storage.

Data virtualization gives agencies greater control over their data, infrastructure and costs – major reasons why agencies are embracing the concept of data virtualization. Virtualizing the data can eliminate 50 percent or more of migration workloads, minimize disruptions to production operations, and automate migration to the cloud and eliminate data loss – providing agencies the confidence to complete their cloud migration and modernization projects as efficiently and cheaply as possible.

Achieving FDCCI's Goals

While an increasing number of agencies have turned to data virtualization as a pathway toward greater efficiency, many have yet to recognize the huge potential it can provide. In order to fully realize the long term strategic goals of the FDCCI, including reducing operational costs and migrating to the cloud – and for federal success stories to be the norm by the next GAO study – agencies should take a closer look at the benefits of virtualization and strongly consider making this approach a key part of their agency's consolidation strategy moving forward.

Thomas Sasala, CTO of the Army's IT Agency, will provide an update on DoD's virtualization efforts in a special free webcast on March 10. Click here for more.

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