COL Chris Miller

Army data-center consolidation efforts all about the applications

COL Chris Miller leads the Army’s data-center consolidation efforts out of the CIO/G6 office in the Pentagon. At the recent AFCEA TechNet Southwest conference in Tucson, Ariz., (the first of the newly configured LandWarNet conferences), Miller discussed progress on efforts to reduce the number of the Army’s approximately 450 data centers by 185 by 2015, cutting a significant percentage of the approximately 26,000 servers now installed. Defense Systems Editor-in-Chief attended the session, and noted these highlights. 

On the challenge

It’s about the cultural change. It’s not about where that server is or who owns the server. It’s all about the information that you need to get at. As a former division signal battalion commander, I worried about hugging that server, and making sure that I could own it. We are moving away from that, and we need to because we can’t continue to operate that way because the resources are not going to be there for us in future years. So we’ve got to work smarter.

Related coverage:

DISA offers details on the enterprise and data-center consolidation

We are partnering right now with DISA on platform-as-a-service and getting that operational, and then [followed by] software-as-a-service. But the key point that LTG Susan Lawrence always brings out is that we did some initial fork-lift operations to shift servers from one facility on an installation to another facility on an installation, but we’ve got to get away from that.

Today we have got a lot of infrastructure out there. We need to turn that around, and focus more on the applications. 

On the multitude of applications

We have taken on a rationalization effort to make sure that we can identify all of the applications that are out there because it’s not all about closing data centers.  It’s about making sure that we rationalize the applications, moving them where we need them versus having them parked on each of our posts, camps and stations, and paying all that additional cost that we really don’t need to do.

Yesterday we were at 10,693 applications found or reported to date, and we’re probably missing 6, 7, 8…maybe 9,000 more that are out. We’ve got to figure out where they are at and who is paying for them. We are either going to modernize them, kill them or we are going to sustain to kill, and that’s very difficult as we move through this process.

We are having the leads for the domain and the mission areas figure out where these applications go, whether they are going to be locally hosted or whether they can go to the enterprise. Moving something to the enterprise means we want to make sure that the application has that capability to do that. Some [applications] we can determine now that need to go to DISA, some will reside in the commercial area and we will determine those local applications that are only needed at that post, camp or station.

On accelerating closures

[There are 32 data center closures planned for fiscal 2015], and Lawrence has directed all the commands to move those to the left into fiscal 2014.  We think that we can close a lot more data centers than what we are targeting right now. Everybody is talking about a BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) 2, and Army data center consolidation is going to be the same.

[Also], the Department of Defense is looking at taking the total number of data centers down somewhere under 100. So we are making some recommendations to the CIO/G6 in the upcoming weeks on which core data centers should be nominated for the Department of Defense. It’s going to be a handful of core data centers, and [you] can probably figure out where we currently have facilities today at some of our posts, camps and stations, both in CONUS and OCONUS, that will meet the bill of a core data center.

On data storage

Network and storage capability is also another area we are looking at. One of our biggest bills out there is the storage bill that we pay. So we are paying a lot of money for storage, and maybe we don’t need to pay that money.  So we asking folks to come through DISA, and let’s see if we can drive down those cost of storage.

About the Author

Barry Rosenberg is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryDefense.

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