Feds To Shutter 100 Data Centers In 'Cloud First' Push

"cloud-first" approach to federal IT projects

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra last week outlined his 25-Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management, the blueprint to control IT spending and to deliver better services. He spoke before the Senate Committee On Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Finance Management, Government Information, Federal Servers and International Security.

Part of that plan is the "cloud first" approach to federal IT, through which federal agencies will default to cloud-based solutions when evaluating options for new IT deployments. Kundra has said that the government plans to move roughly 75 agency-identified programs to the cloud.

In his testimony last week, Kundra said applying light technologies and shared solutions is a must.

"As a government, we too often rely on proprietary, custom IT solutions, instead of leveraging new technology and looking at common solutions to fit our needs," Kundra said during his testimony. "By leveraging shared infrastructure and economies of scale, 'light technology' or cloud computing services, present a compelling business model for federal leadership. Agencies are able to measure and pay for only the IT resources they consume, increase or decrease their usage to match requirements and budget constraints, and leverage the shared underlying capacity of IT resources."

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Kundra presented a handful of federal cloud computing success stories to highlight the need for cloud adoption.

He said the Department of Agriculture is migrating 120,000 users across 5,000 locations to the cloud, which will reduce costs by $27 million over five years. The General Services Administration (GSA), he said, is shifting 17,000 e-mail users to the cloud and reducing costs by $15 million over the next five years. And the Census Bureau deployed a cloud-based customer self-service tool in just 25 days, rather than the six months it would have taken conventionally, he added.

The cloud-first approach and as part of the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy seeks to stem a good portion of the $24 billion, or 31 percent of its annual budget, that the federal government spends annually on redundant and inefficient infrastructure.

Kundra said that as part of the cost reduction efforts and to foster the move to cloud computing environments, the Obama administration would start shutting down and consolidating national data centers.

The government has identified 100 data centers that will be shut down by the end of this year, according to a report in The Washington Post outlining the federal cloud plans.

In his testimony, Kundra said that the number of federal data centers ballooned to 2,094 in 2010 from 432 in 1998, a swell of 385 percent in just 12 years.

"This growth is unsustainable," Kundra said. "That is why we are actively shutting down 800 data centers by 2015."