When the Defense Department first started its data center consolidation push four years ago, the approach was relatively straightforward: First, count the data centers, then close as many as possible. DoD says it is now applying a more nuanced strategy that focuses more on spending than sheer numbers.

When DoD joined the governmentwide consolidation drive, even tallying up the military’s overall data center inventory turned out to be a harder task than the Pentagon first imagined: After about a year of counting, 786 were on the books. There were 2,100 “data centers” on the list by the time DoD revised its definitions to include smaller rooms and closets, and it eventually quit counting. Previous plans called for DoD to consolidate most of those into a fixed number of large government-owned “core data centers” and shutter most of the rest.

Now though, even the term “data center” has fallen out of favor. Terry Halvorsen, DoD’s new chief information officer, wants the department to focus on finding the most cost- efficient way to facilitate what he terms “data distribution” via a blend of government-owned facilities and commercial cloud providers.

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