U.S. CIO Kundra Says Government Is Shutting 137 Data Centers

The U.S. government has closed 39 computer data centers and plans to shut down 98 more by the end of the year, the federal government’s top technology officer said today.

The Obama administration plans to consolidate 137 facilities in all, or 325,000 square feet (30,193 square meters) of space that is filled with servers, networks, routers and switches, U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said at a White House event. The meeting was held to promote administration efforts to better manage the government’s $80 billion information technology budget.

Overall, the government has more than 2,000 data centers, many of which are costly and pose a “huge security threat” because agencies hadn’t kept track of the facilities they operated, Kundra said.

The Agriculture Department will close 10 data centers this year and will eventually reduce the facilities to seven from 43, Kathleen Merrigan, the department’s deputy secretary, said at the event. The Health and Human Services Department recently shuttered a 14,992-square-foot (1,393-square-meter) data center in Rockville, Maryland.

The administration’s initiative to close “duplicative” data centers is “welcome news” as it tries to reduce what it spends each year on information technology, Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware and chairman of the federal financial management and government information subcommittee, said in a statement.

Shift to Cloud

Kundra also said agencies are making progress in moving computer systems to the cloud, a key component in the administration’s strategy to reduce information technology costs. Systems valued at $20 billion may move to the cloud, a shared pool of computing resources including servers and data storage operated by contractors, he said.

Agencies have focused on websites and e-mail systems as the first systems to shift to the cloud. Fifteen agencies have identified 950,000 inboxes spanning 100 e-mail systems as eligible for the move. The Agriculture Department has transferred 17,000 employee e-mail accounts to the cloud and plans to move 120,000 by the end of the year, Merrigan said.

Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are among the contractors that offer cloud services. Kundra said he hopes small businesses, including Silicon Valley start-ups, will compete with the “tech titans in the industry.”

“Right now it’s asymmetrically tilted because the procurement process is so complicated. It takes so long” that small businesses don’t think it’s worth it to sell to the government, Kundra said in an interview after the event.

To help coordinate procurement of cloud e-mail services, the General Services Administration will open competition May 10 for $2.5 billion in cloud contracts to serve federal agencies, Kundra said.

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