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Data center closures are ahead of schedule, federal CIO says

The White House is ahead of schedule with its five-year drive to shut down about one-third of the government's 2,100 data centers, federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said Wednesday.

The government plans to shutter 373 data centers covering about 800,000 square feet, or about 14 football fields, by the end of 2012, Kundra said. It already has closed 81, and will take care of 114 more by the end of 2011, bringing the total closed to 195. The government's plan as of April had been to close only 137 centers by the end of 2011.

Kundra has estimated the entire data center consolidation process should save the government about $3 billion over five years in reduced costs for electricity, air conditioning and, in some cases, leased space. The average data center uses about 200 times the energy of conventional office space, Kundra said, much of it due to the cost of cooling computer servers.

The federal CIO's office doesn't have data about projected savings from this round of closures yet, but expects to gather and release that information during the next month, Kundra said.

Because federal data centers can vary from less than 1,000 square feet to more than 100,000 square feet, it's been difficult to nail down the actual cost savings from the early rounds of consolidation.

Kundra said he's instructed agencies to release by Oct. 7 a detailed breakdown of all the data centers they expect to close by 2015 and the savings associated with each. A Government Accountability Office report on agency data center consolidation plans is due out sometime this month.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., released a statement applauding Kundra's announcement, but warned that "these first few rounds may be the low-hanging fruit or perhaps the fruit already on the ground."

Carper is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, which has been deeply involved in the data center consolidation process.

Kundra's office also released a map Wednesday of where the data centers slated for closure are located.

The IT chief's 25-Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT, released in December 2010, also envisions saving about $5 billion annually by shifting some data that's now housed in centers to more versatile cloud computing.

Computer clouds are large banks of computer servers that can pack data more efficiently than traditional storage facilities and that consumers treat like a utility, paying only for the server space they use.

Kundra plans to leave his post in August to take a fellowship at Harvard University. President Obama hasn't yet named his successor.

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