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Virtualization of DoD Servers — The First Step Into The Cloud

Migration into a cloud environment by means of virtualization of servers is extremely attractive and has instant paybacks. As compared with other software intensive improvements, the ability to combine servers in order to increase computer utilization from <20% to >70% is the most attractive choice in the current environment when cuts in IT budgets for FY12 and beyond are required by end of this July.

Server virtualization is well understood. The technology is mature. There are a number of software vendors who can deliver server virtualization rapidly and at a fixed cost.

The question is what are the potential savings that can be proposed as cost reductions?

For comparison purposes let us look at the numbed of servers in computer services. For purposes of benchmarking I have chosen Akamai (with IT costs of $636 million/year) and Rackspace (with IT costs of $648 million/year). The combined IT costs of these two firms of $1,284 million can be compared to the DoD Operations & Maintenance budget for FY10 of $21,683 million, which is 16.9 times greater. Without growth this amounts to $108,415 million of IT spending over five years.

The total number of servers for Akamai and Rackspace is 104,671. Using the dollar share of total operations and maintenance spending this suggests that DoD is likely to have about 180,000 servers, of which 100,000 have been already virtualized as the best case.

The most complete total cost of ownership model is from Alinean ( The model suggests that a reduction in the number of eligible small-scale DoD servers from 80,000 to 5,000 mainframe-like computers is feasible.

The net IT capital cost reductions, over five years, would be $3,760 million while requiring an up front net investment of $27 million. The net IT operating cost reduction, over five years, would be $63,123 million, which is a 58% cut. Such cost reduction is in line with results that have been so far realized by leading commercial firms. In addition there would be a reduction of 36,720 kWatts in electrical power and space savings in the data center of 7,118 sq.ft.

The cost reductions from the virtualization of servers should be seen only as the first step on the path toward a cloud environment in which DoD operates its information technologies as a private and secure “platform-as-a-service”.

Available savings from proceeding with virtualization are so large that a concerted effort to proceed with such migration should not be deferred.

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