Obama Requires Agency Data Centers to be “Greener”


The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or the FITARA, requires federal agencies to provide reports highlighting their data center inventories, activity timelines, investments made and revenue generated, as well as plans they have implemented in order to optimize data centers under their ownership on an annual basis.

Under President Obama, the Executive Office passed a memorandum that went into effect on August 1, 2016, making it compulsory for agencies to develop, implement and report any strategies that may help to take the place of physical infrastructure – helping to optimize the facilities into a non-tangible substructure. I believe this is a great step towards a future that is stepping away from data centers that continuously guzzle up critical energy and require large investments for expansion and growth.

By outlining a general skeleton of a proper data center optimization strategy and highlighting the criteria by which one can be deemed successful, the memorandum sets up a framework for making data centers much more power efficient.  Under this memorandum,  agencies may not expand or build new data sites at their discretion, but must propose a written application that displays an analytical overview of why more cost efficient, cloud-based alternatives might not be the best choice for their business.

Cloud computing is a primary constituent of cost effective financial investment. Instead of purchasing hardware and physical infrastructure, you can be provided a storage and interaction network as a service by a service provider and access it through your desktop devices or through the internet. More and more businesses are turning towards this kind of a service as they look to lower invested cost in multiple data centers and also seek to lower their PUE or Power Usage Effectiveness down to considerable levels.

This new memorandum carefully determines and puts limits on the metrics under which a company’s PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) should fall. A higher limit for already established agencies and a lower one for ones that are just starting up, helps to significantly reduce the amount of capital that is spent on energy expenditure and expansion of multiple data centers under a single company’s ownership.

At this critical point in time, when continuous industrial and economic motion is essential for long-term success, it is salient that we look into better alternatives.  A well structured strategic plan (that is required to be put to paper and given to the respective authorities) ensures that agencies optimize on a continuous basis and that they do not follow a plan with loopholes. This legislation will, undoubtedly, greatly help to reduce power ineffectiveness by shutting down facilities that are non-tiered or are no longer in use.

Jeffrey Dorf is the Editor of The Data Center Blog and President of the Global Data Center Alliance

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