Federal energy inventory tallies government data center inefficiencies

A 2011 inventory of the U.S. Energy Department’s data centers neglected to include more than 500 facilities managed by contractors, reports Nextgov. The government has also failed to introduce several energy efficiency measures in its data centers that could result in significant cost savings.

Jun 4th, 2012

According to recent reporting by Nextgov, an inventory of the U.S. Energy Department’s data centers conducted in July 2011 neglected to include more than 500 facilities managed by contractors, the department’s internal auditor said in a report. The department told the Office of Management and Budget that it was operating only 58 federal data centers, excluding at least 520 contractor-operated centers totaling 314,000 square feet. “We noted that omissions of contractor-operated data centers continued despite OMB’s request that the department resubmit an updated and complete final inventory prior to Dec. 31, 2010,” the audit said. Nextgov notes that the 520 uncounted facilities all meet an old OMB definition that included only data centers larger than 500 square feet; and that, under a new definition made effective in October 2011, "the number of uncounted data centers at Energy could be significantly larger."

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Also according to the auditors’ report, the Energy Department has failed to introduce several data center energy efficiency measures that could result in significant cost savings. “For instance, IT server racks in 43 of 77 data centers reviewed were not configured using hot/cold rows to maximize energy efficiencies,” the report said. Further, the audit said that officials have also not introduced various low-cost or free measures to increase air circulation through data centers. According to the report: “Improvements such as perforated tiles that direct air flow from the floor to the servers were placed in less than optimal locations, and blanking panels and floor skirting typically used to prevent hot and cold air from mixing within or beneath server racks were not used consistently."

Federal data centers also contain a lot of empty space, said the auditor's report. Of 77 data centers examined, about 74,000 square feet -- or 26 percent of the space -- was found vacant or underutilized.

Source: Energy Inventory Missed 500 Data Centers (nextgov.com)

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