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US Navy puts stops on server spending

Full steam ahead on consolidation and clouds

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The US Department of the Navy is slashing server spending as of last week, with Vice Admiral David Dorsett, deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance (how's that for a title?), issuing a directive for all IT operations to get their act together and start virtualizing and consolidating servers and data centers to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.

The directive also instructs the Navy's IT personnel to consider cloudy infrastructure and applications as well as desktop virtualization on thin clients, and tells them to seek out opportunities to consolidate enterprise software licenses from various IT suppliers.

The gravy train boat has run out for IT suppliers as the US government, like every other local, state and national government in the Western economies, is trying to cut costs. In June last year, Federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra put the brakes on $3bn in IT projects being paid for by Uncle Sam, and in August over $30bn in IT projects from 26 agencies were put under review.

To make the order to cease and desist on server spending clear, Dorsett issued a directive that says all Navy IT departments have to get a waiver directly from him if they have a special case warranting the purchase of new iron. The halt on server spending includes new machines as well as upgrades.

The directive also immediately halts all spending on new data centers (and presumably data closets for those who want to be sneaky). The Navy will be submitting a data center consolidation plan to the Department of Defense on February 25, and all Navy IT commanders are instructed to reduce the number of Navy data centers by 25 per cent.

The directive also says that officers in charge of systems have to come up with a plan to boost server utilization by 40 per cent, with a cap at 80 per cent of total server CPU capacity, and to increase server virtualization by 50 per cent (capping at 80 per cent of systems being virtualized).

The server virtualization plans have to be submitted by September 30, 2011, and have to be implemented within a year's time. Commanders have to have a disaster recovery plan for their virtual and physical servers, too.

The order to Navy IT personnel also covers personal computing, and includes an order to boost the use of thin clients, replacing traditional desktops and supporting a mobile workforce. That sure sounds like a tablet computer to me, but Dorsett also wants users to be able to work from disconnected devices. That sounds like XenDesktop or and VMware View virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) running on a netbook or tablet.

"This initiative will focus on shifting computing processes away from traditional desktop hardware and making greater use of platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) capabilities," Dorsett wrote in the directive.

The Navy directive follows a similar one issued by Lt General Jeffrey Sorenson, chief information manager of the US Army, last summer for the boys in green. ®

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