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US Government Begins Largest IT Consolidation in History 283

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the wtb-bofh dept.
miller60 writes "Saying 1,100 data centers is too many, the federal government has begun what looms as the largest IT consolidation in history. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra has directed federal agencies to inventory their assets by April 30 and prepare a plan to reduce the number of servers and data centers, with a focus on slashing energy costs (full memo). Kundra says some applications may be shifted to cloud computing platforms customized for government use."
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US Government Begins Largest IT Consolidation in History

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  • by Zarf (5735) on Monday March 01, 2010 @12:57PM (#31318050) Journal

    I predict a rash of job openings that you can get hired for provided you can spell "Cloud Computing"

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2010 @12:58PM (#31318082)

      Clud Crumpooting

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:52PM (#31318970) Homepage

      It depends entirely on the political clout of your congressional representation.

    • C-L-U-O-D C-M-P-U-T-E-N-G.

      Is that close enough for government work?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday March 01, 2010 @12:57PM (#31318058) Journal
    Dinner is served! Please approach the money trough in an orderly line...
    • by hedwards (940851) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:18PM (#31318432)
      I know you're joking, but it could go either way. Trying to manage, secure, track and backup the huge number of servers that the various agencies and departments use costs a pretty considerable amount of money to do right. Of course they haven't been doing it right up until now. Consolidating into a smaller number of server farms that are somewhat spread through the US has definite potential in terms of dealing with those factors more efficiently. That being said, we won't know until it happens, there's still plenty of ways for pork and waste to creep into the equation.
      • by wealthychef (584778) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:34PM (#31318694)
        I for one have full confidence in the government that after reorganizing their data centers, they will have a lean, optimized, efficient operation. Who's with me?
        • by BitHive (578094) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:43PM (#31318826) Homepage

          Sure, as long as they bring in the free market to do it. Nothing gets a job done on time and under cost like unfettered free enterprise and rugged individualism.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Improv (2467)

            While we're in irony mode, yup, that's why we have the best health care system in the world, we have the best train infrastructure in the world, and why our scientific and cultural literacy is top-notch!

            • by Pojut (1027544)

              And why we have the most imprisoned people per capita in the world! Everyone knows a privately owned prison system is the best way to-

              *NO CARRIER*

              • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

                by Improv (2467)

                But it's impossible for people to end up in jail in a free market! Any time people might need something they don't have, whether it be stuff or emotional fulfillment, a market is created, and the invisible hand provides!

                This incidentally is why in a free market nobody is killed by bullets - need to be saved -> market -> invisible hand deflects bullet.

            • Irony is not the same thing as sarcasm. I guess you might be right about the education thing. LOL
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:21PM (#31319370)

          they will have a lean, optimized, efficient operation.

          I'm sure that it'll be as lean and efficient as most of the companies where I've worked. While those 'darn government bureaucrats' take a lot of heat for like every one who runs for office, incumbent or not. However, personally, I've seen plenty of waste, fraud and abuse in the private sector to know that those issues are just examples of human nature run amok in large organizations.

          Of course with government, special problems exist, in particular voters and politicians who instead of trying to improve government seem more willing to destroy it and 'start fresh'. Of course that that does is empower the status quo. Practical people who talk of incremental change and steady leadership are downed out by radicals who demand 'nothing', or 'everything'.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:08PM (#31319176) Journal
        There are, absolutely undeniably, substantial economies of scale in IT at virtually every step of the game. Hardware gets cheaper as it is produced in greater volume, software costs serious cash to write but nothing to copy, small shops might have a 1/25 admin/server ratio because the minimum number of admins is 1(.5 admins just lie on the floor oozing organ goo) while large ones might have a 1/10,000 ratio plus a few screwdriver monkeys.

        And, honestly, I'd be delighted if the feds can realize some of those economies. I'm sure that there are plenty of grossly inefficient little fiefdoms out there, just waiting to be consolidated.

        My concern is twofold: one is that there are non-obvious potential diseconomies of scale(and not just because this is the evil gummin't with its waste and corruption, a lot of the good stories are private sector). Centralization and standardization are all well and good until you end up waiting three weeks and submitting petitions in triplicate just to get some software installed or setting changed, and don't even think about setting up a little wiki or git repo or something for your team with approval from a half dozen departments.

        The second issue is, of course, concern over the government contracting process, regulatory capture, revolving door incentives, outright corruption, and whatnot. The magical efficiency of the private sector isn't going to do us a whole lot of good if the project ends up as a cost-plus job for SAIC [wikipedia.org] or one of the other byzantine contracting behemoths that specialize in landing(and on occasion even fulfilling) contracts.
    • by ArcadeX (866171) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:59PM (#31319066)
      I work on the DoT network, and this thought scares me. Please remember the lowest bidder gets the job in most cases, we recently started putting VM servers in, and these guys can't even reboota a virtual server without screwing it up. As a regional subcontractor, I'm completely locked out, to the point that I had to spend 10 minutes on the phone with our official helpdesk explaining the runas command in windows to the guy on the other end so he could run a command I don't have access to...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wintercolby (1117427)
        There in lies the problem. The fed will likely outsource to Raytheon or Northrup Grumman, who will again contract out to recruiting firms. Before I know it, I'll be getting calls and emails from people who clearly aren't even state-side asking if I'm willing to relocate for a 6 month contract. Of course it would be on my dime to move. That's why they can't get qualified people. Qualified people won't (don't) sub-contract for firms based in India to get paid the lowest going wage and relocate at the sam
  • Bout time (Score:4, Funny)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday March 01, 2010 @12:58PM (#31318076) Journal

    See, the last time we upgraded we put everything on eleven hundred windows 95 machines with 1 gig hard drives. That did pretty good for a spell, all things considered. Now we're thinking about one of them pointy computers... whaddya call em? Blade servers? Yeah, we hear good things about those.

    • See, the last time we upgraded we put everything on eleven hundred windows 95 machines with 1 gig hard drives.

      One data center for each machine?! I think you've unfairly misrepresented their efficiency. I think an estimate of 200 total machines would be more appropriate.

  • Prediction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maugle (1369813) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:00PM (#31318108)
    This being a government IT project, I predict it will take 5 years longer than planned, cost 10x the initial budget, and still never really work quite right.
    • Re:Prediction (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Blade (1720) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:01PM (#31318154) Homepage

      This being an IT project, I predict it will take 5 years longer than planned, cost 10x the initial budget, and still never really work quite right.

      Fixed that for you.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'm glad I don't work where-ever it is that you do...
        • Re:Prediction (Score:4, Interesting)

          by timeOday (582209) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:07PM (#31319160)
          The high failure rate for large software projects is well known [codinghorror.com]: "If Las Vegas sounds too tame for you, software might just be the right gamble. Software projects include a glut of risks that would give Vegas oddsmakers nightmares. The odds of a large project finishing on time are close to zero. The odds of a large project being canceled are an even-money bet (Jones 1991)."

          Here is another fun page [ieee.org]: "Most IT experts agree that such failures occur far more often than they should. What's more, the failures are universally unprejudiced: they happen in every country; to large companies and small; in commercial, nonprofit, and governmental organizations; and without regard to status or reputation."

          I only question why, when large projects are almost universally over-budget or fail altogether, we persist in being surprised and outraged every time? The simple fact is, we don't know how to do it, any more than we know how to land on mars; that is, we can do it, sometimes, but you better know going in it is likely to end in tears.

          (In general, it seems to me that most of the problems in government have direct parallels in private industry because they flow from the same underlying cause; the unaffordability of medicare/medicaid corresponds to skyrocketing premiums in the private market; social security corresponds to slashing pensions and now even 401k matches in private industry. But private industry does hold a trump card - they can always cut their losses by tossing people aside and moving on, whereas government is the safety net.)

    • by Nadaka (224565)

      This being a government IT project, I predict it will take 5 years longer than planned, cost 10x the initial budget, and still never really work quite right.

      Then it will be a complete success.

      • It depends if the idea happened with you/your party supporting or rejecting the idea initially. So if it was your party idea then it is a success otherwise it would be a failure.

    • Government: There's no success like failure.

    • by BitHive (578094)

      Unless they outsource it to the FREE MARKET in which case it will be the most efficient, cost-effective solution ever completed six months ahead of schedule.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Considering that the data being processed is most likely confidential in some way I'm not sure that's an option.

        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Considering that the data being processed is most likely confidential in some way I'm not sure that's an option."

          From what I've observed...there really is NOT much in the way of govt. run tech, they are mandated to only be managers, it is ALL contract work these days. I started some projects with govt. years ago, and there were a few govt tech types doing tech work, but shortly after that, they were mandated to ONLY be mangerial and could not do direct tech work.

          So, this is common, and it is no problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sandbags (964742)

      I don't know, we started with a network of well over 3,000 servers, and in less than 2 years we've moved almost entirely off Win 2K, virtualized over 1,000 servers, moved to AIX 6 and VIO, delpoyed a VMWare infrastructure, deployed an Exchange architecture in place of a legacy e-mail system, and converted more than half our web apps into SOA and put it on IFLs in a mainframe. We cut from over 3,000 systems, nearly all physical, to under 2500 with near half virtual, and saved significant money in the proces

  • IT as a commodity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DogDude (805747)
    Finally, IT is on its way to being considered a commodity, as it should. There's no reason for every organization to maintain their own IT infrastructure any more than there's reason for every organization to maintain their own electricity generation and distribution. Of course, the hordes of IT people won't be happy, as the number of It jobs will continue to fall precipitously, but such is life. Because everybody has access to relatively significant computing power, society as a whole gets to reap the r
    • by clang_jangle (975789) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:08PM (#31318276) Journal
      And if you like the way your bank is not liable for identity theft, you'll just love the upcoming government data-filled Cloud!
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)

        Stop calling it identity theft.

        It as "Banks refusing to take action to prevent fraud".

    • Re:IT as a commodity (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:11PM (#31318312) Journal

      I am not quite sure what you are talking about. Because everyone has access to yesteryear's supercomputer on their desktop, there is no reason whatever to go back to a 1960s outsourcing model. If you want to distribute load over your machines, go ahead! But why do it over someone else's?

      If you think this is going to reduce IT expenditure requirements, you have barely worked a minute in IT. When you outsource, you are simply paying someone else to do your job, plus profit, plus a gaggle of negotiators in middle management collecting their kickbacks, plus downtime costs because your business is less important to them than your business is to you (if you have enterprise e-mail and it has been down more than, say, GMail, you have done something very wrong)...

      • by jimicus (737525) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:54PM (#31319000)

        If you think this is going to reduce IT expenditure requirements, you have barely worked a minute in IT. When you outsource, you are simply paying someone else to do your job, plus profit, plus a gaggle of negotiators in middle management collecting their kickbacks, plus downtime costs because your business is less important to them than your business is to you (if you have enterprise e-mail and it has been down more than, say, GMail, you have done something very wrong)...

        I've worked in IT for... a few years. And I agree with the GP.

        See, the thing is that while huge organisations will continue to require significant IT infrastructure (either managed inhouse or managed by an outside firm), huge organisations do not provide the majority of jobs in this world. The great majority of jobs are provided by SMBs. The really small SMBs have been outsourcing their IT for years - though "outsourcing their IT" probably translates to "get Dave's son to do it, he knows about computers".

        Slightly larger SMBs have been outsourcing their IT to some little company who thought they could earn easy money doing installation and support. Look in the yellow pages, you'll find hundreds of little companies offering services like this. Few of these little outsourcing companies are making serious money - there's simply too much competition in the market.

        Larger still SMBs (think medium rather than small, 40-200 employees) may have historically had a full-time IT person. But today there are dozens of companies offering outsourced Exchange, or you can sign up for Google for Domains and the price is so cheap that there is no way a single full-time IT person (even if you ignore their salary) can compete economically - never mind offering four or five nines uptime and spam filtering which doesn't leave people crying. Meanwhile, the cost of a single desktop PC is now so low that it's cheaper to have a spares cupboard containing enough spare PCs to re-equip an entire team at a moment's notice than it is to keep someone on staff to maintain them. Sure, they won't be particularly elegantly managed (there may not be a domain, antivirus may be totally forgotten about, they certainly won't have a standardised build) but let's be honest here - how many non-techies ever display any sign of caring about any of that? And business-specific niche software is frequently sold with a support contract anyway.

        Seriously - while anyone who takes careers advice from a stranger on /. probably needs their brains looking at, I'd say if you want steady employment with minimal risk of finding that not only are you redundant from your current post, supply and demand has made you worth considerably less since you last were jobhunting - get yourself a job in the public sector or get the hell out of IT.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tsm_sf (545316)
          Few of these little outsourcing companies are making serious money - there's simply too much competition in the market.

          Little nit to pick with that... From my perspective it seems like the competent folks quickly reach carrying capacity and simply choose not to expand their operation. I don't know what you mean by "serious money", but having a steady roster of clients who are willing to pay a slight premium for your services doesn't look like a bad way to conduct business.

          There may be a lot of compe
    • Re:IT as a commodity (Score:4, Informative)

      by eln (21727) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:21PM (#31318466) Homepage
      I agree with the government's effort to consolidate, because you can take advantage of cheaper per-gigabyte costs and have more robust backup, recovery, disaster recovery, and redundancy solutions when you're using enterprise equipment in large data centers. I think the government has a lot to gain from consolidation in this manner.

      However, I don't see that they'd have much to gain by outsourcing. Government data, by nature, is quite a bit more sensitive than just about any private company's data. The kind of security the government needs is not going to come cheaply, and it's arguable that any private company is really capable of providing it (although they say they are). Even if they can provide it, it's doubtful they can do it cheaper than the government could. For people in need of true commodity services like web hosting, outsourcing makes sense because it can be done far cheaper that way. For people in need of large-scale custom solutions, like the government, keeping it in-house is going to tend to be both more secure and less expensive.
      • You assume they haven't already outsourced everything already.

        From where I'm sitting (in a government IT center, with about 5 actual government employees among the couple thousand that work here), that's not all that likely to be a valid assumption.

      • by rainmayun (842754)
        You must not be aware of how many government data centers are already privately operated.
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:01PM (#31318138)

    If Virginia's IT overhaul [washingtonpost.com] is any indication [timesdispatch.com], this is going to be a slow-motion cluster of a mess [washingtontechnology.com] for the next 10-20 years

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:21PM (#31318478)

      If Virginia's IT overhaul [washingtonpost.com] is any indication [timesdispatch.com], this is going to be a slow-motion cluster of a mess [washingtontechnology.com] for the next 10-20 years

      Let's not forget that Vivek Kundra was Virginia's CIO when that fiasco took place. I predict that this will be at least as bad as the Virginia situation.

    • by mikefocke (64233) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `ekcof.ekim'> on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:35PM (#31318724)

      Of course it is

      consolidations are always a mess and ones full of job implications mean political interference (I want em in my district).

      But you have to do something as the growth of government IT gets out of hand and we can only afford so much.

      IIRC, the government consolidated all the payroll systems it had into about 4 pay centers back about 10 years ago. Went from maintaining hundreds to one s/w run 4 places for redundancy. Everybody screamed they needed theirs because it had unique features, they learned to do without or incorporated the features into the new s/w. Wasn't that fairly successful?

      While all govt computing is a bit more complex now than a single application was then, still if we are to afford the things we really need, consolidation and standardization makes sense.

      Now the contracting and execution...that will be a challenge. And so what if it takes 5 years, if we are going in the right direction and saving money in the long run. Because we can't sustain even the current government spending on what we are willing to vote as taxes.

  • Consolidate (Score:5, Funny)

    by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:01PM (#31318148) Journal

    Every business I've ever worked for has had that one dusty 8086 off in a corner. It would run a single batch file every few hours. No one would touch it, because no one knew what it did-- just that whatever it did do was mission critical.

    Thus, the US government should just consolidate everything down to a single batch program run by a 8086. I'm sure there's a spare closet in the White House or something they can use as a server room.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I know that as late as 1995, NASA still had some satellites that were still controlled by some Commodore 64s in a warehouse near White Sands, New Mexico.

      I'm sure they've fixed that by now. Probably. Possibly.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        Maybe they're now running in C64 emulators.
      • by oneiros27 (46144)

        *those* satellites are probably now defunct. It's the satellites that launched in the 1990s that are still dependent on running on old Alpha, Sparc or such hardware that are the current problem.

        And there's no budget to hire programmers to port all of the software, run it through the proper testing, code review, etc.

        So yes, there's a bunch of old systems hidden in closets and/or empty cubicles, limping along until the mission ends.

        Disclaimer : I've seen one of those closets, and more than one of the cubicle

      • by Z34107 (925136)

        TEOTWAWKI.bat ... every 108 minutes

        LIAR! That has 9 characters before the extension!

        calls the 8.3 police

  • The memo isn't clear if this project is only for what i'd call "paper shuffling" agencies, or if Department of Energy, NASA, DOD, etc, are going to be required to participate as well. I doubt they would be, but they're also the ones who require the most computing resources, I would think. Of course, it seems they put the CIO of DHS in charge of this (for what reason, I don't know, but probably a nefarious one), so who knows what sort of ridiculousness is going to come of it.
    • by gclef (96311)

      They put the head of DHS in charge of it because DHS wants to make sure they get their monitoring gear in front of all these sites, and the easiest way to make that happen is for DHS to run it. It's the same idea as to why DHS is so heavily involved in the TIC project: they want a specific outcome, but that outcome isn't what's publicly stated.

    • by rainmayun (842754)
      You might be surprised at what agencies and have requirements for the most computing resources. Sure, DoD and NASA are high on the list, but so are IRS, SSA, CMS. Operational agencies that serve most Americans have HUGE amounts of data to manage.
    • Are you referring to processing power, or computer resources? Cause I would think the IRS and Social Security both have a crapload more stuff than the DoE..

  • "A classified review of the United States Secret Service's computer technology found that the agency's computers were fully operational only 60 percent of the time because of outdated systems and a reliance on a computer mainframe that dates to the 1980s, according to Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. "
    (loc. cit. [go.com])

    CC.
  • Vivek (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigmattana (646048) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:09PM (#31318294)
    Oh, Vivek, what brilliant thing will you think of next? How much energy will it take to replace all of these server farms? How much energy will be required for the taxpayers to earn the money necessary to pay for it? What about security concerns of consolidating all of this data?

    I think Vivek wants to make himself look useful after being exposed as a fraud by John C. Dvorak. http://www.dvorak.org/blog/2009/08/12/special-report-is-us-chief-information-officer-cio-vivek-kundra-a-phony/ [dvorak.org]
  • by adosch (1397357) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:13PM (#31318348)
    I work for a government project in a Federally funded building right now and all I can say is... it sound promising. Common sense, proper planning and innovation gets put on the back burner for under-estimated budgets, bad trade studies, botched planning and wrong decisions being made by the wrong people. In the end, everything will still be money driven and the stove-pipe approach to IT infrastructure will remain the same: everyone will take their OWN budgeted money and set up their OWN infrastructure that will be completely different than project-A over project-B, so you'd spend double that to consolidate it. If you want to use some of project-A's setup (e.g. authentication, storage, ect.) because mis-managed budgets being a huge concern, project-B will get quoted a ridiculous amount of money to jump aboard to do it; much more, in-fact, than it would take to do a trade study, setup of a proof-of-concept test, purchase what you need and implement it. Thus that's how stove-piped approaches become what they are: a mess.
  • by joocemann (1273720) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:18PM (#31318416)

    Didn't read the article, but my experience with government entities is that they receive a specific value of funding each year to spend on gear, training, energy costs, etc.

    The nature of the funding goes that if you don't use all of it this year, you get a reduced amount next year. Now this may seem logical -- it may seem like a policy that governs spending. Instead what it is is a policy that drives UNNECESSARY SPENDING.

    The places I have been were frugal but appropriate in their spending throughout the year. As the funding for the year would approach a close (in October), all-of-a-sudden the leadership would start spending money like crazy because they had a large surplus. Money would be spent on things that were not actually necessary; if they were necessary, why not get them at any other time during the year?

    In several cases, seeing this strange frenzy of spending I would ask the leadership what was going on. They explained the 'use it or lose it' policy and that in order to maintain the funding they got this year, for next year, they *must* spend it all. I was in conflict because I was taught integrity/honesty and there is no integrity in spending up dads helpful money on worthless junk so as to appear that you still have 'need'.
    ------

    The reason I bring this up is because I am curious if the units that will save money via IT consolidation will actually save us money or if they will be (by obvious standing procedure) driven to spend it in pointless/needless ways.

    Discuss? Anyone else experience this?

    • by eln (21727)
      That's the nature of funding in any large organization that has different departments with separately managed budgets. I've worked in large companies, and they all do this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rainmayun (842754)
      You have to consider the personal incentives for managers with budget authority. If you manage a shrinking department, there's no rewards for spending less money. Your prestige and responsibility shrink, and your career path dwindles. For better or for worse, all of the incentives for budget managers are towards bigger and bigger spending allocations.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jwl17330536 (1603439)

      As the funding for the year would approach a close (in October), all-of-a-sudden the leadership would start spending money like crazy because they had a large surplus. Money would be spent on things that were not actually necessary; if they were necessary, why not get them at any other time during the year?

      But, I seriously needed the 12 pairs of sunglasses that I got in October 2006. They were only $200.00 / each and we only bought 12 for 12 different people. When I say we needed them I mean we needed to spend more money! I actually wore a pair this morning.

  • by hrieke (126185) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:18PM (#31318420) Homepage

    Now just wait for a data center to be scheduled to close in some Congressman's home district and see how big of a block is put into place.

  • by lax-goalie (730970) on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:20PM (#31318448)

    I have no problem with the CONCEPT of consolidation, but Virginia's IT outsourcing/consolidation project to Northrup Grumman happened on Kundra's watch. It is an unmitigated disaster.

    Years into it, there's not even a complete inventory of the systems that NG is supposed to be managing for the Commonwealth, and at least as of a few months ago, NG couldn't even produce an invoice for the Commonwealth to pay that had more than six or eight line items on it.

    I sat through a special meeting of the House Committee on Science and Technology on the issue a few months ago, and the legislature is NOT happy about the situation. Privately, you will hear from them words like "gross negligence" to "I'm convinced it's corruption". The Delegates who engineered the legislation enabling the IT outsourcing are especially pissed.

    No disrespect to Kundra, but I don't think he's the right guy to oversee it.

    • by Kaboom13 (235759)

      By the government policy of failing upward, he is not only the right guy, he is the only guy! Noone else has failed on a scale to prove they really have what it takes to fail at this and still come out smelling like roses.

  • by Statecraftsman (718862) * on Monday March 01, 2010 @01:22PM (#31318484) Homepage
    To run a sovereign state, it is necessary for all systems to be based on free software and to be run on public infrastructure. That means no privately hosted cloud computing and no proprietary software. How else are we to ever find out how our government is run?
  • I was halfway through the description and intended to make a "Let's move everything to the Cloud!" joke, but I see the OP beat me to it. How disappointing. Let me give you a little tip: the person who sets up the joke isn't supposed to then tell the punchline. C'mon, Abbot and Costello 101 here, people. I don't know! Third base!

  • It'll fail and be another boondoggle. The federal government is an incredible diverse organization with varying degrees of competence. Much of it, mainly the DoD and DoJ, can't even safely use cloud computing environments except in strict isolation from the rest of the world. Those two departments alone account for the overwhelming majority of federal employees.
  • Does CIO Vivek Kundra have budget authority over these data centers? If not, then the agencies will do with him what they do with every other "czar:" Flip him the bird and go right back to the way they were doing things before.

    'Nuff said.

  • is such a colossally bad idea. Government data living on any system ultimately controlled by a corporation on that corporation's property is so rife for abuse, we are really opening perhaps the biggest Pandora's box of our times. Future Americans will likely rue the day the government gave all control of its data to Corporate America.
    • Cloud Computing for Governments ...is such a colossally bad idea. Government data living on any system ultimately controlled by a corporation on that corporation's property is so rife for abuse, we are really opening perhaps the biggest Pandora's box of our times.

      Cloud computing != Privately run servers

      A push to cloud computing could be moving things to Microsoft created and run server farms, or could be moving things to Google created, but government run and operated server farms, or it could mean moving things to government created and run server farms. Personally, I like the idea of most government agencies just having access to virtual servers in a nice, distributed set of server farms because it solves a lot of networking problems while potentially also getting

  • I'm pretty sure I'm seeing some of this where I'm at now. Basically it has become a bad word to suggest you need a "server". There's the hardware cost, operational cost, and then most importantly to those signing the checks - the bureaucracy costs involved with running such.

    The push has now become to just acquire a slot on the virtual machines they've started to toss up which has actually worked out damned well. What used to run on two giant racks now runs on one little blade server. Definitely a newer angl

    • Virtualization of servers is the right approach to reducing hardware costs and power consumption. We have a facility that currently run on three virtualized server and just because the facility need to have high availability we have an additional blade server that can be fail over in case the primary crashed.

  • The NSA has 1) the mad hax0r skillz, 2) massive reserves of hidden computer power, and 3) the security chops to actually create a secure U.S. government computing cloud. If they can keep their own codebreaking and intelligence records secure (when was the last time you heard about the NSA getting hacked?), they can do it for the government as a whole.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Wow. I definitely can't think of any potential downsides to putting a military entity, with a strong history of not always sticking to its legal role of foreign intelligence gathering, in charge of all IT for our ostensibly civilian government...

      Because IT is a pretty damn banal subject, your proposal doesn't elicit the visceral distaste that "Hey, we should let the army take over policing. The army has 1) mad combat skillz 2) massive firepower and 3) the security chops to actually keep the streets safe.
  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:46PM (#31319784)

    I've actually done a lot of smaller server consolidation projects. In most cases, the results are great...those lonely database and file servers that get hits 5 or 6 times a day are all combined into one big box that actually uses all the hardware capacity.

    The biggest problems I've seen with VMs are the project managers who treat it as magic, never-ending capacity. The new favorite phrase in IT project management circles seems to be, "Oh, we'll just build a VM for it." Problem is, unless someone else is hosting your data center, you can't just call up and order more capacity without paying for more hardware.

    Second-biggest with a consolidation like this is incomplete requirements. Lowest-bidder contractors are not going to do a good job of gathering every single requirement...even high-bidder contractors have problems with this. And the problem is that the more they miss, the worse the fallout. A certain large company I used to work for found this out the hard way moving their inhouse data center to one of the big IT services companies. I'm a systems guy, and had all my stuff well documented. Others were pissed off they were losing their jobs and intentionally withheld information...the contractors didn't follow up, and a lot of last minute scrambling had to be done to complete the migration.

    Third problem for a government IT consolidation? Some huge services company like Accenture or IBM is going to win the bid and staff the project with dumbasses they pulled off the street in order to maximize profits. (Yes, this happened in my case in point #2 above...the sales staff presented the A Squad and swapped them out as soon as the contract was signed.) Not that government employees are rockstars, but they at least have a vested interest in keeping the data safe. IBM will probably win the contract too, given their involvement with government systems already. IBM has been so India-happy over the last ten years that I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the (non security critical) work ends up there.

    Just like PMs treat VMs as magic hardware, CIOs treat outsourcers as magic black boxes that flawlessly run their IT operations. Unfortunately, the reality is not as sunny beneath the surface!

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