The Raritan Blog

How is the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) Changing the Landscape? (Part 2)

Posted on May 11, 2017 by Rick Gonedes  |  Comment (0)

Even though the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) is much stricter in its goals and rules than the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) that it’s replacing, the intent and impact are just as important. There are already talks of transitioning as much as possible of the existing infrastructure over to cloud services - something underscored by the freeze on new data center construction for the next six months. 

The key to understanding how the DCOI is currently changing the landscape involves gaining a deeper understanding of what it means for you moving forward.

Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)

Starting in September of 2018, the Office of Management and Budget (OBM) will begin to monitor the energy efficiency of data centers through a Power Usage Effectiveness metric, also commonly referred to as PUE. This is a ratio of the proportion of total data center energy used to power an IT infrastructure, calculated by comparing average facility electricity usage and average IT equipment electricity usage.

All existing data centers that are not deemed to be cost-effective, meaning that they have yet to be able to achieve a PUE of less than 1.5, risk possible consolidation or closure after this time. Any new data centers that cannot maintain a maximum PUE of 1.4 (though 1.2 is encouraged) run the same risks.

To put that into perspective, enterprise data centers currently maintain an average PUE of about 1.7.

Luckily, addressing these PUE requirements is a fairly straightforward process. Installing newer and more advanced branch circuit meters and building meters, along with the deployment and reliance on DCIM software, will all go a long way towards meeting this requirement in the short-term. Thanks to recent advancements made with DCIM in terms of both active monitoring and the automation like asset inventory management, these goals are not nearly as daunting as they may seem.

Additional Requirements

The DCOI makes it very clear that all agencies will need to totally replace the manual collection and reporting of data with regards to all "systems, software and hardware inventory" within data centers with DCIM software tools. This is actually an excellent idea for a variety of different reasons, the fact that data center management professionals can now automate the collection of this data, allowing them to maintain a level of real-time visibility into their operations and increasing the overall quality of what they're able to collect in the first place.

This also transitions directly into another essential requirement - energy metering. The DCOI requires that by the end of 2018, 100% of the total gross floor area in an agency's data center will have power metering. This is another goal that can be accomplished through the careful installation of branch circuit meters, intelligent rack PDUs and yes - DCIM software.

Data centers that are able to become compliant with the DCOI have the potential to see a massive number of benefits almost immediately. The Department of Defense, for example, is expected to save about $68 million from efficiencies achieved through virtualization and operating system reductions. The National Science Foundation will see $1.2 million in cost reduction dealing with labor, hardware, maintenance, and updates by reducing its dependency on 100+ legacy servers.

Most importantly, the Department of Transportation will see a 62% reduction of its data center floor space through the reduction of physical servers in favor of better alternatives like cloud computing.

The Path to Tomorrow Begins Today

Nobody is trying to argue that the Data Center Optimization Initiative doesn't represent a significant level of disruption to the landscape as we know it today. It absolutely does. However, you need to contextualize that against what matters most - the incredible cost savings and operational efficiency increases generated alone are more than worth it.

To that end, the answer to the question "how is the DCOI changing the landscape?" is a simple one: it's giving us a roadmap to use to build a better future in terms of the roles that data centers play in our society. 

Note that the DCOI mandates that all agencies achieve a PUE of less than 1.5 by as soon as September 30, 2018. This means that government agencies need to start working TODAY to both properly contextualize the DCOI and what it means for them, as well as uncover new opportunities to take a data-driven approach to achieving these important objectives.