The U.S. government is looking to close as many as 800 data centers within the next four years – a move which the White House says will bolster IT efficiency and strengthen security.
Plans to consolidate the government's IT infrastructure have been on the table for some time, but earlier this week, the White House's Office of Management and Budget announced an ambitious move to accelerate that project and shut down approximately 40 percent of its data centers by 2015.
The decision stems from the influx of government data centers that have opened in recent years. While many businesses have spent the last decade or so consolidating their data centers, the OMB said that between 1998 and 2010 U.S. government quadrupled the number of facilities it uses.
This has led to myriad inefficiencies in government IT and, of course, American taxpayers have footed the bill.
"By shrinking our data center footprint we will save taxpayer dollars, cutting costs for infrastructure, real estate and energy," wrote Jeffrey Zients, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. "At the same time, moving to a more nimble 21st century model will strengthen our security and the ability to deliver services for less."
According to a recent New York Times article, the cloud will be a significant part of the government's plan to consolidate data centers and improve data security. In a recent interview with the Times, federal CIO Vivek Kundra said deploying cloud solutions such as hosted email would enable the government to rely less on its own data centers, therefore saving taxpayers money.
In total, Kundra predicted, by closing down the data centers, the government would save approximately $5 billion a year.