Navy official emphasizes quality, not quantity in data center consolidation

Windows 8 phones could loosen BlackBerry's grip on Navy
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The Navy Department has closed between five and seven data centers so far as part of its effort to reduce its total down to 25 or below by 2017, departmental Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen told reporters Nov. 26.

That total includes "one or two" closed by the Navy and "four or five" closed by the Marine Corps, out of an initial total of between 140 and 165 data centers, Halvorsen said. The variability in the total number of data centers stems from the lack of a single definition of what constitutes a data center.

That the department has closed so far only 5 percent or less of the data centers it needs to doesn't mean that progress hasn't been made, Halvorsen said.

"We consolidated a lot more things," he said, stating that the department has moved about 100 systems in preparation for closures.

"You just generally don't go in an environment as complex as ours and say, 'Okay, we're going to take everything out of this data center,'" he said.

Once preparation through system consolidation has taken place, a number of data centers will close at the same time, he added. The end state number of data centers might also go well below 25, he added.

"When I'm really trying to be optimistic, it could be 10, to run the entire Department of the Navy," he said.

Halvorsen also said the department has made savings of $100 million through efficiencies so far; it must find $2 billion worth of cuts to business systems spending over the next 5 years, "or it will end up coming out of mission money and we certainly don't want that to happen."

At the same time, the department is looking for ways to permit mobile devices other than BlackBerrys onto its network, Halvorsen said, singling out Windows 8 phones as a real possibility.

"It has some interesting potential because we are today, and will be for the next couple years at least, a Windows-based organization," he said. Some Navy officials have pushed for iPhones being permitted onto the Navy network, but Halvorsen said there is no set date for that to happen.

"Could I set it up so that someone could use their iPhone on the government network? Absolutely. It would not do anything of the things that you would want your iPhone to do anymore, but you could use it on a government network," he said, adding that "that kind of defeats the purpose."

For more:
- listen to Halvorsen's Nov. 26 presser

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