As part of its overall IT modernization strategy, the FDA is looking towards developing next-generation data centers. In a request for information (RFI) posted July 9, the FDA said it is “seeking information and input from the [private sector] for planning purposes for modernization, transformation and innovations for reengaging the FDA’s Next Generation Data Center efforts.”

As part of its next-generation data center efforts, the FDA is looking to achieve:

  • “Innovative Technological solutions (examples include data center consolidation for cost-efficient cloud and colocation facilities; advances in IT infrastructure to support workload diversity, scalability, and unified management; software-defined networking and modern data architecture to support resiliency and agility; DevSecOps.)
  • Substantial systems and process performance improvements
  • Demonstrative reduction in unit costs, operating costs, and overall cost savings
  • Simplification of the environment to one that is easy to operate and agile to maintain, upgrade, and scale to meet changing business needs.”

The FDA Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT) currently operates four data centers in Ashburn, Va., Silver Spring, Md., College Park, Md., and Jefferson, Ariz., with a combination of virtual and physical servers. Collectively, the data centers have 491 racks and an array of virtual servers, physical servers, and high performance clusters.

Currently, OMIT is considering new approaches to deliver IT infrastructure in its data centers, while still “meeting all their performance, resiliency and cost objectives and aligning with the FDA’s Technology Modernization Action Plan.”

The RFI noted that its IT customers have requested improvement and implementation of best practices and processes concerning:

  • Transparency in monitoring and cost data;
  • Engineering support in troubleshooting, and infrastructure design;
  • Enhanced support for DevOps methodologies;
  • Expanding the use of automation, automated workflows, and self-service provisioning;
  • Continuous Integration, Diagnostics, Testing, Mitigation, and Security; and
  • IT service management.

As part of the RFI, the FDA said it is seeking “wide-ranging information that demonstrate risk mitigation strategies, lessons learned, modernization, innovation, optimization, and methodologies for rapid migration, cutovers from legacy/original environments with minimal impact to operational availability requirements, as well as suggestions on the future of data center management.” It did note that due to the critical nature of some of these applications and services, the FDA requires “full operational capability of all applications and services during the migration process thus ensuring a seamless end user migration experience on all devices operating anytime, anywhere.”

Interested parties are required to answer 28 questions listed in the RFI. Submissions are due by July 27.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.