U.S. government shuttering 800 computer data centers

In an effort to reduce spending and step up its technology infrastructure, the United States government will be closing down 40 percent of its computer data centers.

In an effort to reduce spending and step up its technology infrastructure, the United States government will be closing down 40 percent of its computer data centers.

That breaks down to roughly 800 data centers out of the 2,000 currently open nationwide. The U.S. already spends about $80 billion per year on IT, and the closures could free up as much as $5 billion per year as well as many acres of real estate.

Thus, the federal government is taking a note from the private sector by pushing forward into the most popular (and a much more efficient) IT trend at the moment: cloud computing.

The New York Times reports:

In an interview, Vivek Kundra, chief information officer for the federal government, explained that the data center consolidation was part of a broader strategy to embrace more efficient, Internet-era computing. In particular, the government is shifting to cloud computing, in which users use online applications like e-mail remotely, over the Internet. These cloud services can be provided by the government to many agencies or by outside technology companies.

However, not all of these data centers will be shut down all at once. Currently, the plan is to shutter 195 locations by the end of 2011, with the grand total extended to 373 data centers closed by the end of 2012.

As efficient and less-costly as cloud computing is, let's not forget one of the major themes discussed repeatedly at GigaOm's Structure conference last month: cloud computing is still in its infancy.

Yes, it's time to start making the transition, but we wouldn't want the government to jump in full throttle yet. For starters, just think about the security issues. Thus, while this shift is deserves to be lauded, it also has to be well-planned and gradual.

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