By adding a manufacturer to their IT infrastructures, federal IT departments may be able to save billions more dollars than they can by consolidating datacenters.
The Government Accountability Office estimated closing 1,186 datacenters resulted in an overhead reduction of $2.4 billion, a figure disputed by some as not taking into account the costs of consolidation, additional power usage at remaining datacenters, and remaining inventories, reports FCW. By adding a vendor to their infrastructure mix, federal IT professionals estimate they can save 20 percent of their IT budget, or $15.8 billion, according to MeriTalk's new "Information Infrastructure: Set My IT Free" report.
But most aren't doing it.
Although 95 percent of those surveyed in MeriTalk's study state there are benefits to using more than one manufacturer in their IT infrastructure, three out of four agencies still restrict themselves to one specified vendor in these procurements, at least some of the time, and 41 percent have not even considered adding more vendors into their network infrastructures.
Taxpayers should be outraged. Now, $16 billion may be a drop in the bucket when you're talking trillions of dollars of debt, but it can certainly pay for a lot of education, veterans' support, healthcare, defense, and other services constantly under threat of cuts. Or pour it back into IT for additional training, innovation, and productivity solutions.
Few and Far Between
Of course, IT being IT, there are reasons for this non-adoption of multi-vendor infrastructures. Sixty-five percent of the 202 federal IT professionals surveyed in the Brocade-sponsored study said they specify a vendor in order to ensure compatibility with their existing infrastructure. Complexity concerns, siloed infrastructures, and testing issues also limit their exploration of additional vendors, the report found. But 17 percent confessed it's "what management wants"; 11 percent said "it saves time"; and 7 percent claimed that age-old "it's just what we always do." Shudder.
Ignoring the apathetic and inexcusable last response, IT has the responsibility to educate management about the benefits -- technological and financial -- of expanding the organization's use of only one or two legacy or favored vendors. In addition to potentially reducing costs, it could open up more capabilities and options, enhancing support and opportunities. Regarding time-savings, many vendors and their solution providers partner with other manufacturers to ensure compatibility, eliminating integration concerns. The growing use of open-source further should reduce compatibility and integration worries. I'd think you could buy a lot of testing time for even a portion of 20 percent of your total IT budget.
In this big-data age, IT departments should be very alarmed by silos, these giant speed bumps to advances in analytics, competitiveness, and productivity. Using silos as an excuse to avoid anything makes no sense; IT should proactively be working to eliminate these isolated repositories.
All this is occurring simultaneously with the federal government's two-year-old Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative. Trackable here, FDCCI aims to close 40 percent -- or 1,200 -- datacenters by the end of 2015. The goal, of course, is to save money. Imagine how much more of our dollars the feds could save if they also considered alternate or additional vendors.
— Alison Diana , ThinkerNet Editor, Internet Evolution