Optimization of Physical Data Centers

Classification of Physical Data Centers

For the purposes of this memorandum, rooms with at least one server, providing services (whether in a production, test, staging, development, or any other environment) are considered data centers. However, rooms containing only print servers, routing equipment, switches, security devices (such as firewalls), or other telecommunications components shall not be considered data centers. Agencies shall perform a comprehensive review of their data center inventories and continue to maintain complete and updated data center inventories. This comprehensive review shall be completed by August 31, 2016, to align with the Integrated Data Collection (IDC) process. 16

Data centers shall be categorized into two groups: tiered17 data centers and non-tiered data centers. Tiered data centers are defined as those that utilize each of the following: 1) a separate physical space for IT infrastructure; 2) an uninterruptible power supply; 3) a dedicated cooling system or zone; and 4) a backup power generator for prolonged power outages. All other data centers shall be considered non-tiered data centers.18 Private sector-provided cloud services are not considered data centers for the purposes of this memorandum, but must continue to be included in agencies’ quarterly inventory data submissions to OMB.

Agencies shall self-classify data centers as either tiered or non-tiered data centers based on the above criteria; however, any data center previously reported to OMB as a Tier 1-4 data center shall be automatically categorized as a tiered data center.

Under this memorandum, OMB sets closure and optimization targets that are applicable to each type of data center. Additionally, the terms “core” and “non-core” will no longer be used as the categorical benchmarks for OMB oversight.

Energy Metering and Power Efficiency

Agencies shall install automated energy metering tools and shall use these to collect and report energy usage data in their data centers to OMB. The March 19, 2015, Executive Order 13693, “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade,” requires agencies to install and monitor advanced energy meters in data centers by September 30, 2018. 19

Consistent with the Implementing Instructions for Executive Order 13693 (E.O. Implementing Instructions), energy metering tools shall enable the active tracking of PUE for the data center and shall be installed in all tiered Federal data centers by September 30, 2018.20 The E.O. Implementing Instructions also advise that “[a]ll existing and new data centers shall have at least one certified Data Center Energy Practitioner (DCEP) assigned to manage its performance.” 21

Consistent with the E.O. Implementing Instructions, agency CIOs are also required under this memorandum to ensure that existing tiered data centers achieve and maintain a PUE of less than 1.5 by September 30, 2018. Agency CIOs shall evaluate options for consolidation or closure of existing data centers in which a PUE target of less than 1.5 is not cost-effective, such as through transition to cloud services or migration to inter-agency shared services data centers.

Accordingly, OMB will monitor the energy efficiency of data center power and cooling infrastructure through the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric. Consistent with the E.O. Implementing Instructions, effective immediately, all new data centers must implement energy metering capable of measuring PUE and must be designed and operated to maintain a PUE no greater than 1.4, and are encouraged to be designed and operated to achieve a PUE no greater than 1.2.

To the extent permissible under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), agencies must include PUE requirements for all new data center contracts or procurement vehicles. Further, any new data center contract or procurement vehicle must require the contractor to report the quarterly average PUE of the contracted facility22 to the contracting agency, except where that data center’s PUE is already being reported directly to OMB or GSA through participation in a multi-agency service program. Agencies are encouraged to require the same for extension of existing vehicles. PUE reporting is not required for cloud services.

Automated Infrastructure Management

Agencies shall replace manual collections and reporting of systems, software, and hardware inventory housed within data centers with automated monitoring, inventory, and management tools (e.g., data center infrastructure management) by the end of fiscal year 2018. These tools shall provide the capability to, at a minimum, measure progress toward the server utilization and virtualization metrics defined in the Metric Target Values section of this memorandum.23

Any data center initiation, significant expansion, or migration project that receives Development, Modernization, and Enhancement (DM&E) funds in fiscal year 2017 and beyond must immediately implement automated monitoring and management tools. However, agencies are strongly encouraged to implement automated monitoring and management tools throughout their data centers immediately.

To the extent permissible under the FAR, agencies must include automated infrastructure management requirements for all new data center service contracts or procurement vehicles. Further, any new data center contractor procurement vehicle must require the contractor to report to the contracting agency whether the contracted facility utilizes automated infrastructure


16 Data centers containing only print servers that were previously reported as “closed” shall remain classified as closed data centers in agencies’ data center reporting.

17 The term “tiered” and the definitions that follow are derived from the Uptime Institute’s Tier Classification System; however, this shall not be construed as requiring any certification in order for a data center to be considered tiered by OMB.

18 Data centers previously classified as tiered in past inventories will automatically be classified as tiered under the DCOI.

19 Executive Order, “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade” https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/19/executive-order-planning-federal-sustainability-next-decade.

20 While Executive Order 13693 requires advanced energy metering in all data centers, OMB will monitor PUE for tiered data centers only.

21 See “Implementing Instructions for Executive Order 13693, ‘Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade’” https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/eo_13693_implementing_instructions_june_10_2015.pdf.

This can be PUE for the facility as a whole in cases where the agency only contracts for a portion of a larger facility; however, if PUE metrics are available specific to the agency’s use, that is preferred.

23 For non-tiered data centers, only automated monitoring of server utilization is required.