back to article Uncle Sam's IT bods find 2,000 data centers they FORGOT about

US government agencies are being called out by Congress after it was revealed that they are falling woefully short in data center consolidation efforts. Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the number of data centers the American administration runs has gone up, in part because an …

  1. Brian Miller

    Down the back of the couch, under the seat cushions, where else?

    Never mind "losing" a server in a wall or boarded up closet, Uncle Sam is losing warehouses of machines! Is the Ark of the Covenant in there, too?

    Look, it's simple. If you can't find the XP machines, stop issuing them IP addresses. The users will find you soon enough.

    1. Jonski

      Re: Down the back of the couch, under the seat cushions, where else?

      Re: XP machines

      Back in the day, I had a user with borrowed equipment who wouldn't return my calls. After a week I disabled his a/c and my phone rang in under 5 minutes.

      If you've got the power, flaunt it.

      1. mosw

        Re: Down the back of the couch, under the seat cushions, where else?

        "If you've got the power, flaunt it."

        I think that is the motto of the NSA.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Down the back of the couch, under the seat cushions, where else?

      "Look, it's simple. If you can't find the XP machines, stop issuing them IP addresses. The users will find you soon enough."

      Depends. I once got called out to "fix" a networked printer that wasn't connecting. After checking the settings and seeing all the right flashy lighty things looking normal I phoned their IT guys and asked them to confirm the IP address of the BootP server the printer was looking for. Silence. Then "what BootP server?"

      It turns out the last BootP server had been decommissioned two years previously but no one had ever switched the printer off until there was a power cut so it had just carried on working with it's existing settings.

      In respect of these old XP PCs, they might be running off fixed IPs and so be even harder to find. They might need to hire in some script kiddies :-)

  2. Mark 85

    They found 2000 data centers that they didn't know they had? Sort of explains a lot about our government and how they operate.

    Facepalm.. repeatedly...

    1. Notas Badoff

      Every level of government is swiming in quicksand...

      Watched a friend help a county government consolidate from many buildings down to one new one, and part of that was sizing the data room and most importantly the AC/power required. Quite enough people/groups returned the questionaires/queries about what they had and needed, that the coordinators really felt they had gotten everybody, even better as some things trickled in after a few weeks so even the laggards were accounted for, right?

      After all the power/AC/server contracts had been let and announcements about projected scheduling/timing for early moves were distributed, the third half of the requirements showed up from groups that just hadn't bothered, and with no recognition that now they'd created an impossibility. It wasn't just "can we stuff that many servers into the space", it was that "we don't know how to reinforce the roof to hold that much AC", or even "will that much AC fit in the available roof area!?!"

      I don't know what resulted - I did the "hear no evil" thing. If "the cloud" was available back then I think the panic would have driven them to it. It was only tax records, budgets, payroll, criminal records, court proceedings, and the like after all...

      1. Peter Simpson 1
        Thumb Up

        Re: Every level of government is swiming in quicksand...


        Simply inform the third half, that, since their response came in not just late, but after you had started building the facility to support those who had responded in a timely manner, that a SECOND facility will be required to support them. And the cost of this second facility will be coming out of their budgets.

        Sit back and enjoy the screams of the wrongfully oppressed.

        // that's what the BOFH would do, I'm sure

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      @ Mark 85

      Aww, come on... who of us can honestly say that this sort of thing hasn't happened to them as well every now and then...

  3. oldtaku Silver badge
    IT Angle

    500 sqft +

    For those of you wondering what a 'Data Center' means in this context (just a PC in a closet?) these are defined by GAO as any room larger than 500 square feet (46.5 m^2) dedicated to data processing /and/ has to meet at least Tier I of Uptime Institute classification.

    'A Tier I data center provides dedicated site infrastructure to support information technology beyond an office setting. Tier I infrastructure includes a dedicated space for IT systems; an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to filter power spikes, sags, and momentary outages; dedicated cooling equipment that won’t get shut down at the end of normal office hours; and an engine generator to protect IT functions from extended power outages.'

    So these aren't just lost PCs. Not surprisingly, Dept of Defense has the most lost ones.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: 500 sqft +

      "Not surprisingly, Dept of Defense has the most lost ones."

      Maybe they told someone but then had to shoot them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 500 sqft +

        Maybe they told someone but then had to shoot them.

        Those ones would not have been included (assuming UK levels of security) - because knowledge of these would of been restricted to the department and even then to specific groups. Also, whilst within the organisation it might be known how many datacentres they had and where they were, any compilation of this information carried a higher security grade. This lead to interesting project meetings and planning concerning a server discovery and refresh across the entire estate...

    2. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: 500 sqft +

      The Uptime Institute.

      I like it. I may use it at some point in the future.

      Either for a band name, or a stripGentlemen's club.

      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: The Uptime Institute

        It's already a thing. Probably trademarked too.

        El Reg's obit for its founder, Ken Brill, has a nice overview.

  4. kain preacher

    I know the us is a big country but how the hell do you lose 2000 data centers. To top it off you not sure if that's it, the list could be double that

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Pssst, that's the way they want it.... Just like the NSA used to be ... No Such Agency. And you're probably right, if one of the posters above is right, there could be many places that house a few servers in a 500sq ft facility. So just like in retail double it, and add 20%.

    2. enormous c word

      @kain preacher, Well - it shows you how good the govt are at hiding stuff away. If you have big enough budgets and lack of accountability you can hide all sorts of big stuff...

    3. a_yank_lurker

      @kain preacher - You do not live here to see the outrageous incompetency at the federal level compounded by state and local idiots. Others wonder way many American think the feral government is a bunch of thieving criminals with something the Mafia never had - legal protection. 2,000 is probably an order of magnitude low.

      1. kain preacher

        I am a yank. I guess I'm just young enough to still be amazed at some of the BS the comes out. My brain is still hurting from hearing the republican debate and talking about how every single Syrian refugee is going to be ISIS.

        1. pirate hill

          I will not argue with you. But if you had another decade or two under your belt you might feel differently.

          1. kain preacher

            At this rate 2-3 years. Is 37 to old to still be shocked by Gov BS ?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I had direct authority over an entire Naval Air Station for IT and related projects. To say I'd be upset about reappearing IT resources is putting it mildly. I can't imagine that command authority (direct reports) would be any happier is putting that mildly as well. Not even my no-shit rep would have saved me. Sheesh.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      The Walking Datacenter

      I thought you guys would be prepped to fight zombies?

  6. Nolveys

    Not to worry

    All of these problems will be dealt with when Congress passes the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act Reform Act.

    1. Thaumaturge

      Re: Not to worry

      "All of these problems will be dealt with when Congress passes the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act Reform Act."


      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Not to worry

        "Fit a rar"

        I thought they were coming out against encryption?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Not to worry


        It's what you get if you do more exercise :-)

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    That X-Files feeling

    When a mundane questionnaire leads to doubt the fabric of reality.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: That X-Files feeling

      We left the x-files world long ago, took a left at the twighlight zone and are now firmly embedded in twin-peaks territory.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: That X-Files feeling

        The Twin Peaks diner has the best pies, so... win-win!

        1. Bob Wheeler

          Re: That X-Files feeling

          And damn fine coffee

          1. Sgt_Oddball

            Re: That X-Files feeling

            For a more left field I would have simply said it was proof of the forbidden zones. Only accessible by means of the reinvented ocarina... Maybe ubers" just trying to save us from those with the knowledge? But I digress.

  8. M7S

    "Lost datacentres" Is this like those cheap post apocalyptic novels of the '80's

    where a group of survivors stumble across an abandoned bunker, with one entrance not completely secure and that just happens to contain everything they need such as food, vehicle fuel that hasn't degraded in storage and enough ammunition to sate a reading teenager's lust for zombie/commie* extermination without worry

    *Insert enemy du jour here, although I understand these day's its all teenage vampires or wherewolves**

    **These are the ones unable to read a map or use GPS

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: "Lost datacentres"

      That could be such an incredible movie... a bunch of auditors accidentally stumble into a long forgotten data centre and meet the BOFH of BOFHs...

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

        Re: "Lost datacentres"


      2. Bob Wheeler

        Re: "Lost datacentres"

        The perfect mix of high tension drama (as well as high tension voltage), full on horror and a sprinkle of Sci-fi.

        Now moive I'd pay to go and see...

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: "Lost datacentres"

          But it would be more like "Saw" with added underground lair flair.

          "Let's play a game... you have to find out which servers have legit Microsoft Licenses before the halon alarm goes off...."

  9. Graham Marsden

    Did they...

    ... check down the back of the sofa?

  10. Sgt_Oddball

    just when you thought it was safe...

    To consolidate your data centres, they rise again, return if the lost data centers coming to an ISDN line near you.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I can't believe anyone else has not already said this!

    That extra 2,000 is just the NSA's "national neighborhood terror-watch" datacenters being declared.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: I can't believe anyone else has not already said this!

      Nah.. not NSA. TSA owns them and all the servers therein have the unpatched, unprotected databases.

  12. kain preacher

    You see this is exactly how shit like sky net gets started.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Saudi Arabia finances Datacenter Madrassas?

    2. RichardB

      Keep up...

      Skynet has been around since the 60s...

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