Advancing Federal Data Center Modernization

MeriTalk study highlights the state of federal data center transformation and reveals federal IT managers' concerns.

Marcia Savage

March 9, 2018

3 Min Read
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Federal IT leaders recently got a reprieve: two extra years to meet the Data Center Optimization Initiative’s (DCOI) data center consolidation goals, which now call for agencies to close 25% of tiered data centers and 60% of non-tiered data centers by September 2020 (vs. this year).

A new MeriTalk report, “Data Center 2020: Federal Modernization in Focus” validates this decision and points to a need for greater urgency to meet the new target date. According to the research, fewer than one in five federal IT managers said their agency was very likely to meet the original deadlines. And, while 84% of federal IT managers say their agency has a formal data center modernization strategy, just 47% of them say that they are applying the strategy consistently agency-wide. 

data center


Another significant concern for federal agencies: Aging data centers can’t help teams take advantage of emerging technology. Just 10% of federal IT managers give their data centers an “A” for their ability to integrate emerging tech. The real challenge is that the impacts of these deficits extend beyond the data center. In fact, half of federal IT managers said their data centers don’t meet their current mission needs.

Attacking acquisition

We’ve all heard it: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, and expecting a different outcome. As we know, one of federal IT’s biggest challenges is the acquisition process itself. Working to find new options, IT managers are exploring new data center as a service acquisition models that speed access to technology while reducing cost, risk, workforce impact, and complexity. 

The majority of federal IT managers, 83%, anticipate data center as a service will be important to the success of their modernization initiatives. 

Modernization inspiration

The study also shows that federal IT managers are positive about the recently passed Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT). Seventy-seven percent of survey respondents said MGT will help them meet DCOI goals. 

Additionally, the plans established in the Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization, and Suzette Kent’s recent appointment as the new federal chief information officer are steps forward. 

One key step will be doing a better job sharing lessons learned – both positive and negative, across teams, agencies, and between the private and public sector.  While Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scores have brought much-needed high-level transparency, IT leaders continue to report that workforce skill gaps make modernization hard. We can improve the situation with more transparency and mechanisms to share what does, and does not work. 

Agencies need to think collectively and ensure modernization strategies are applied agency-wide. By having a clear vision, we can focus on embracing smaller, strategic steps in the modernization journey, and keep moving in the right direction. 

Jeff Henry is president of ViON Corporation. Prior to ViON, Mr. Henry served as senior VP and general manager of the Americas at Hitachi Data Systems. Before his stint with Hitachi Data Systems, Mr. Henry served as a VP and general manager of North American sales for Unisys Corporation and was VP of global accounts for Hewlett-Packard (HP) Corporation.

About the Author(s)

Marcia Savage

Executive Editor, Network Computing

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