Army giving data centers a final heave-ho with new directive

The Army is trying to cash in on the last possible savings of its data centers in a new directive expected in June and might offer incentives to data centers to finally close their doors.

The directive will dictate exactly what data centers will close and when around the globe, said Army Chief Information Officer Lt. Gen. Robert Ferrell during a March 31 speech.

The Defense Department as a whole has been closing government owned data centers as it migrates to commercial clouds to hold unclassified information.

Additionally, the Army may be expanding its on-premises data centers to four bases to hold the sensitive information.

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“We’ve had the Army data center consolidation plan out for a number of years and I think we’ve reached the point where we’ve gathered all the low hanging fruit, so we’ve reached sort of a plateau and that’s one of the things that keeps [Lt.] Gen. Ferrell up at night,” said Col. John Rozsnyai, chief of enterprise architecture for the Army CIO, in a meeting with reporters after the speech.

Rozsnyai added the Army could tell data centers to close, but there is a modernization and migration cost associated with it. By not knowing where the final hosting destinations for the data would be and not knowing the true cost of the migration the Army couldn’t put the full blame on the system owners and commands for not closing.

“We are looking at an incentive package that we are going to apply toward that to assist the application owners in the migration and some level of the hosting cost for at least the first year,” Rozsnyai said. “You’re going to start to see now a lot of the, I don’t want to call it excuses, but pushback — that ‘I don’t have any money and I couldn’t [budget] for it because I didn’t know what it was going to cost.’ You’re going to see some of that go away.”

The directive will give the data center closure policy more teeth and set firm deadlines for data center closures, said Deputy Army CIO Gary Wong in a meeting with reporters.

The policy comes as DoD CIO is continuing to push DoD to consolidate and save on its data centers. DoD projects a cumulative savings of $1.8 billion through 2018 from data center consolidation, but Halvorsen said in his written statement to Congress on March 22 he thinks DoD can do better.

A March 29 DoD Inspector General report found the department did not meet the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative requirement of closing 40 percent of its data centers by the end of 2015. DoD was only able to close 18 percent in that period. The DoD IG found that part of the problem was the DoD CIO did not revise the department’s strategy to fit a broader definition of data centers, which the Office of Management and Budget used. That definition encompassed smaller data facilities.

The applications and data stored in those data centers will move to the hybrid cloud environment. Higher level security data and anything on the Secure Internet Protocol Network will be stored in clouds on-premises for now, Rozsnyai said.

Redstone Arsenal, Alabama is serving as the pilot base for on-premises commercial cloud servers. Rozsnyai said if that pilot is successful, the Army will expand its on-premises program to Fort Brag, North Carolina; Fort Carson, Colorado and Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Rozsnyai said the formal request for information on the pilot for Redstone was supposed to come out in early April, but it is now looking more like the end of April.

The request will have a statement of objectives as opposed to a specific set of performance statements so industry can find the best solution for what the Army is trying to achieve.