With the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) came the requirement for federal agencies to consolidate and optimize data centers by Oct. 1, 2018. But don’t worry if you’re working with some that haven’t achieved all the closure and efficiency improvements that were prioritized in the subsequent Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI).
FITARA requirements have now been extended to 2020. Plus, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has made some changes to the DCOI that might make compliance more achievable.
It’s important to note that the latest DCOI applies to a select group of federal agencies. However, the updates are a good reminder for any agency looking to pursue optimization as a way to achieve significant cost savings, understand today’s energy efficiency technologies, or implement hybrid data center environments.
The following are some key tenets of the updated DCOI and suggestions regarding adherence.
Consolidation and Closure of Existing Data Centers
A natural part of data center consolidation is virtualization which can lead to a denser physical infrastructure. Optimizing these high-density environments takes some expertise regarding power and thermal management. When choosing a solutions provider or equipment vendor, you’ll want to consider both industry experience and the depth and breadth of the product portfolio.
When it comes to powering consolidated and virtualized IT spaces, agencies will need enhanced connectivity that supports the integration of multi-vendor systems and a power factor that allows them to do more with less. Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units not only ensure business continuity in the event of a power outage or fluctuation, but some select models offer near unity power factor — more usable power enabling more connected loads for space and cost savings.
Long-Term Energy Efficiency
Like the private sector, the amount of data gathered and processed by the federal government continues to increase in response to demand. So while much of the work done over the last decade will drive continuous improvements, dramatic savings or large-scale closures from ongoing data center consolidation and optimization efforts aren’t likely as agencies’ needs grow.
Like the private sector, the amount of data gathered and processed by the federal government continues to increase in response to demand.
This is why the updated DCOI encourages agencies to pursue opportunities that would yield long-term savings through energy efficiency – a very smart plan. Updating to the latest hardware and software in agency data centers not only minimizes the threat of costly unplanned downtime, but it can also drive cost savings due to reduced service, simplified operation, and increased efficiency.
Additionally, by using energy savings performance contracts or utility energy service contracts, agencies can make a compelling total cost of ownership (TCO) calculation.
When deciding on the critical infrastructure that is right for your agency customers, you’ll want to consider equipment that offers features designed especially for energy-efficient operations or items that are Energy Star qualified. This could mean having special operation modes, intelligent fan functionality, or integrated controls that help reduce electricity consumption.
Automated Infrastructure Management
The DCOI also aims to make work processes more efficient as it encourages agencies to replace manual collections and reporting of operational data. In particular, “any data center initiation, significant expansion, or migration project that received development, modernization, and enhancement (DM&E) funds in the fiscal year 2017 or later must implement automated monitoring and management tools.” This requirement is especially important in data centers in excess of 100 kilowatts (kW).
Requiring or encouraging automated monitoring or the use of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools is critical to transparency regarding data center operations. Only by having the visibility that DCIM solutions provide can data center operators make cost-effective asset management decisions that align with their mission.
One of the performance metrics emphasized in the updated DCOI is advanced energy metering which makes sense considering the continued focus on improved energy efficiency in federal agency data centers.
Fortunately, there are solutions today that integrate monitoring and metering from initial deployments, such as prefabricated modular (PFM) or containerized data centers. Pre-engineered and tested in a factory environment to shorten deployment time frames, these solutions can include subsystems such as thermal management, power protection and distribution, and controls.
To ensure advanced energy metering, integration of metered or monitored rack power distribution units (rPDUs) is essential. These components offer real-time power usage data on user-friendly local displays. Monitored rPDUs, in particular, allow for unit- and outlet-level monitoring that enables capacity management, environmental monitoring, energy usage trending, and other proactive power management activities that ensure efficiency and maximize uptime.
Work With Experts on Data Center Best Practices
The whole point of the DCOI and other mandates before it is to drive maturity in IT modernization among federal agencies. Ensuring that this happens takes considerable planning.
That’s why finding an experienced partner who thoroughly understands data center best practices, has a portfolio of TAA- and BAA-compliant solutions, and can navigate contract requirements is the easiest way to accomplish modernization and overall agency goals.
The opinions expressed in this piece are solely Vertiv's. They do not necessarily represent WESCO’s views.