The 2018 Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) deadlines for data center closures have been officially extended to 2020. That’s a good thing, as MeriTalk’s latest research found that fewer than one in five Federal data center leaders say their agency was on track to meet their DCOI goals for that 2018 deadline. MeriTalk’s “Data Center 2020” study looked at what’s still holding agencies back, and steps data center leaders are taking to get into a better position for success.

Under the Hood

While Feds have been focused on modernizing data centers since FDCCI was introduced in 2010, progress is inconsistent. Eighty-four percent of Federal data center leaders say they have a formal data center modernization strategy, but just 47 percent say they are applying the strategy consistently, agency-wide. And, fewer than 25 percent give their data centers an “A” for key metrics, including performance, utilization, scalability, mobile support, and automation.

One challenge–the owner’s manual may need an update. Just 32 percent report they have audited data center(s) to understand current capabilities and shortcomings, and even fewer have published a shared services catalog.

Faster Around the Curves

Federal data center leaders say their agency needs help with modernization–more staff and more training, funding from MGT, and new/more flexible procurement options.

Drilling into acquisition options, while 25 percent use a Data Center-as-a-Service model today, 83 percent say this approach will be important to future modernization success. “Data Center-as-a-Service reduces up-front costs, implementation risk, and complexity,” says Jeff Henry, president, ViON Corporation. Data center leaders see promise in modular data centers, and overall, say their agency’s data center acquisitions are shifting toward utility-based and pay-as-you-go/use models.

Why We’re Racing  

Federal data centers are increasingly unable to keep up with mission requirements–more than half of Federal IT leaders say their data centers are a poor match for today’s mission needs.

Aging legacy infrastructure also won’t support emerging technology. “The data center modernization decisions agencies make today will impact their ability to take advantage of next-generation IoT and AI technologies,” says Dave Turner, president and chief executive officer, Hitachi Vantara Federal.

With DCOI deadlines extended and MGT now law, Federal IT leaders have new opportunity to shift into high gear. The study showed most are optimistic MGT will help. And, deadlines aside, if IT doesn’t modernize and meet mission needs, program owners will find ways around that are less efficient and certainly less secure. Hopefully, new Federal CIO Suzette Kent can help keep the collective foot on the gas.

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MeriTalk Staff