Federal Data Centers and the Duke of Wellington
Shortly before the Battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington while reviewing the rabble that made up the British army remarked, “I have no idea what effect these men may have on the enemy, but by God they frighten me”. Wellington was expressing his concern regarding the ability of his army, comprised largely of the lower echelons of British society, to defeat Napoleon’s Grande Armee on the field of battle. I found this quote to be quite appropriate when I read the recent update on the government’s data center consolidation project.
The Government Accounting Office (GAO) reported that of the 24 agencies they had surveyed only three (3) had submitted complete inventories of their existing data centers. Further embellishing this record of delinquency was the fact that only one (1) agency had completed its consolidation plan by the September 1, 2011 deadline. This all too typical illustration of governmental incompetence would be easy to dismiss as another bureaucratic snafu if it weren’t for the billions of dollars it continues to cost American taxpayers.
Just like many private businesses that are actively engaged in consolidating older, inefficient data centers, the government’s consolidation project was initiated to reduce operational costs. Unfortunately, unlike the private sector there is no financial penalty for the government’s failure to achieve its goals. While the business that doesn’t reduce its costs as quickly and deeply as the market dictates will be penalized through revenues lost to its competitors, their public sector counterparts have no corresponding sense of urgency. In fact, inefficiency on their part often results in them receiving more money to address the problem. Only within byzantine world of government can failure actually ensure continual budget increases.
Fortunately, there is good news on the horizon. Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware) was so appalled by this news that he said that Congress will now be “watching (this situation) closely”. Obviously, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief since the same folks who haven’t passed a budget in three years are now on the case. Surely a sternly worded rebuke on national television is just around the corner. Speaking of television, the government has made us taxes and bills for the cable services. I know you are sick of paying bills, that’s why we have a solution on watching sports without cable, the HDTV Antenna. As data center a provider this situation is particularly helpful to those who don’t want to pay cable bills. Our entire industry is devoted to providing solutions to the very issues the government is facing, but we are largely relegated to the sidelines until our prospective customer can get out of their own way. I guess until then we will all have more than a little Wellington in us.