New guidance for the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) will likely include revised performance goals for agencies, revised metrics for energy metering and virtualization, and new metrics for under-utilized servers, availability, and old hardware, said Jake Wooley, IT sustainability program manager at the Department of Energy (DoE), during MeriTalk’s 2018 Data Center Brainstorm.

“It’s not published yet, and it’s always subject to change … but I think this is where the primary focus, without too many specifics, is at,” said Wooley, referring to the new metrics. With a grain of salt added to his statements, Wooley detailed the potential changes.

In news that should come as a relief to agencies who have not met their goals, “performance goals will be updated,” said Wooley. Past goals “may have been a bit arbitrary … those goals were not negotiated or discussed with agencies prior to them being identified. With this new guidance, we are looking that OMB will look to negotiate and work with each agency to determine what makes sense, as to what we continue to set as closure and consolidation goals, and what we expect to achieve as far as any cost savings or avoidance.”

On metering, Wooley expected the new metric to go by the number of data centers as opposed to data center square footage, and include a measure of how many data centers are unmetered.

On virtualization, “we believe that is a good metric,” he said, adding he expects new guidance to encourage more virtual hosting.

“There will be a metric associated with identifying underutilized servers,” said Wooley. He noted that the metric for “zombie servers” would follow the trend of tracking progress over focusing on distance from the end goal. He also noted that metrics for data center availability and reducing legacy hardware would likely be added.

“I think our objective here is to establish some guidance and some metrics which will allow us to continue beyond just the specific guidance, whether it remains with FITARA or goes away come 2020,” he said. “We will define optimization a little different than we have in the past. The focus will be on optimizing the large, inefficient data centers,” added Wooley.

However, changes to DCOI will not be made in a vacuum, he noted.

“As we put the pressure on closing data centers, … there has to be that integration and alignment with the new Cloud Smart policy that OMB [Office of Management and Budget] is implementing.”

The new guidance also will include less compliance work for agencies on DCOI standards.

“We look to reduce and revise some of the reporting requirements. Currently, we’re having to update our inventories quarterly. I think that’s going to change to annually, as far as inventory updates,” he said.

Wooley offered his feedback on the previous metrics used for the FITARA scorecard, noting that outside factors often impacted DoE’s success.

“Trying to meet these metrics was not easy, by any means. In order to be able to evaluate and for these metrics to be applicable, many of the data centers have to be metered. Without having the necessary metering in there, in many cases they do not apply. That’s also looked to change, because once I started metering, the metrics may go up or down, but that was a contributing factor here,” he said.

Wooley also critiqued the FITARA scorecard in grading agencies against their final data center closure goals, instead of monitoring for progress in the area. However, the silver lining of the low scores was the effect they had on DoE CIO Max Everett, who joined the department in August of last year.

“This is one of the areas where it helped that he got called upon the Hill in the first hearing, and had to take a little of a beating there, but that helps, as far as his interest in the program and understanding what it is. He took it serious, we got some good support from him, and that has made a major change in how the Department of Energy is moving forward with our DCOI program,” said Wooley.

Despite the lack of “A” grades on DoE’s FITARA scorecard, Wooley stood by the progress that the department has made on DCOI.

“Our scorecard on DCOI doesn’t necessarily reflect great progress, but I believe we have been making good progress. Under Max Everett’s leadership, I expect we’ll go much further.”

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MeriTalk Staff