Data center consolidation could save the federal government approximately $18.8 billion, according to a study released on April 26.

The report, Federal Data Center Consolidation: Measure to Manage Report, revealed that 47 percent of the 152 federal IT personnel surveyed said their agencies had successfully consolidated at least some data centers, seeking to meet the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) decree to eliminate 800 data centers or downsize by 40 percent by 2015.

To date, the study found that federal agencies have reduced their data center count by 31 percent, realizing 20 percent savings in their IT budgets.

The study findings come as the federal government plans to close 137 of its 2,000 data centers by the end of 2011, according to comments Wednesday, April 27, from federal CIO Vivek Kundra.

“Data center consolidation is yielding immediate cost savings for federal agencies, but the potential for increased future savings is significant,” said Mark Weber, president of U.S. public sector for NetApp, a data storage solution provider that sponsored the study, in a statement. “Utilizing a more flexible and efficient IT infrastructure can enable agencies to consolidate their data centers and meet OMB’s mandate.”

Conducted in March, by MeriTalk, an online government community, the study provides a status update on federal data center consolidation, an outline of challenges facing federal agencies and recommendations on how to proceed.

One of the major challenges identified by the study was the use of metrics. While the report noted that 95 percent of federal agencies use specific metrics to monitor their data centers, there’s no consensus on which metrics to use uniformly. Sixty-one percent use a physical server tally; 43 percent use storage capacity utilized; and 41 percent of those agencies surveyed said network bandwidth is the metric used to identify consolidation opportunities.

Other findings included:

  • Eighty-two percent of federal IT decision-makers believe they can accomplish data center consolidation in five years.
  • Agencies are utilizing three different definitions of what is considered a “data center.”
  • Forty percent of federal IT professionals who are certain of the costs associated with consolidation say they don’t have the budget to fund their reduction initiatives.