A Defense Department team began work this week evaluating the performance of a data center cluster in South Carolina to determine next steps in its ongoing closure and consolidation efforts, DOD CIO Terry Halvorsen said Tuesday.
The data center closure team kicked off work Monday in Charleston, South Carolina, armed with a template for gathering data on the performance of DOD data centers in the city, he said during a media roundtable with reporters.
“We have a group of data centers in Charleston and so we’re taking all of that data in to look at what could be the next steps,” Halvorsen said. “Those next steps could be converging some of those data centers, could be completely converging them into one data center, it could be that we look at all of that, look at what we have other places and say all of those could be converged someplace else.”
The template the team is using is based on industry best practices, Halvorsen said, noting that some needed tweaks to fit the defense environment.
“Like in security, I have some different rule sets that I have to make sure we’re covering that both impact operations and costs,” Halvorsen said. “So I want to make sure I’m accurately reflecting all of those.”
Those aspects unique to DOD were also brought to industry “to make sure it’s still an accurate way of doing what we’re doing so that we are truly collecting the data in a way that will be intelligent, sharable and a way that will drive us to an overall value decision about what data centers stay, what data centers go,” Halvorsen said.
In August, Deputy CIO for Information Enterprise Randall Conway first announced the new team would review the 25-to-50 least efficient DOD data centers.
[Read more: DOD CIO outlines plans for data center closure team]
Halvorsen said Tuesday he was unsure how long the team would remain in South Carolina since it’s the team’s first stop, but he thinks it will be at least two weeks.
“I’m absolutely wanting to do this as fast as we can while maintaining accuracy and transparency on all the data,” Halvorsen said. “I would like to be able to have a decision here from this first group out before the end of the first quarter.”
He also noted he wasn’t sure how many data centers the team would see this year.
“Part of what we’re learning is how fast does it take, what’s the timeline that it will take to gather all of the data right, present it in a transparent way and look at that,” he said.
This same team will visit each of DOD’s targeted sites, leaving Halvorsen to expect that some people may ask why he didn’t convene multiple teams.
“When you do that there will be some differences, and today it is more important for us that everything gets looked at the same, the practices are the same,” he said. “So while you may have an individual member or two change, depending on assignments… the team will maintain integrity, and this will be the team that goes and visits all of the sites.”
The new team features subject matter experts from each the military services.
“All of the services are represented — they’re represented from their operational committee, they all got to pick the people they wanted to be in this from their technical community,” he said, noting that “it is being led by the DOD CIO data center team plus my senior leadership.”
Before any decisions are made, Halvorsen noted Tuesday, Conway will be looking at all of the collected data, verifying that it is correct and nothing was missed.
Halvorsen also hopes to involve Congress in the process, making sure along the way that his team’s decisions are fact-based “and that we have transparent data to show,” he said.
“I think when we go to start making those informed decisions, it’ll be incumbent on us at some point to make sure that Congress is aware of those and gets to be part of the dialogue,” Halvorsen said.
DOD is far behind in its administration-mandated data center closure goals, a fact that Halvorsen did not shy away from Tuesday. A March inspector general’s report found the department was on course to miss its goal next year for data center closures and closed less than half its targeted goal up to that point.
[Read more: DOD missing data center closure goals — audit]
“We are behind in data center closure… I have got to drive that better,” Halvorsen said. “That’s costing us money that we could spend today in a more direct use.”