Modern demands are changing the way the government purchases, builds, and delivers IT infrastructure. With the explosion of devices and data, and the budget battle to shrink legacy systems, federal agencies are looking for a new approach that both empowers IT and accelerates performance.
According to a MeriTalk study, 60% of federal IT managers favor the shift to converged infrastructure for their data needs. Converged infrastructure provides simplicity and speed as well as responsiveness, dependability, and affordability. With converged infrastructure solutions, federal agencies can offset their data center demands and provide the mechanisms needed to improve data protection and optimize agency-crucial applications.
Fifty-nine percent of federal IT managers who were surveyed in the study said they have already turned to converged infrastructure solutions as part of their agencies’ current data center strategies. Additionally, 57% of federal IT employees who already deployed converged infrastructure have seen a growth in operational efficiency.
“Current converged users are leading the way to data center optimization and more agencies are catching on,” said Milo Speranzo, director of strategy and compliance at Technology Data Government Solutions. “As more agencies witness firsthand the improvements in operational efficiency, deployment turnarounds, and mission success, demand for converged infrastructure will rise.”
However, the MeriTalk study noted 44% of federal IT managers view security concerns as the top roadblock for the adoption of converged infrastructure solutions and integrated IT systems. The reason for this concern may be attributed to the previous lack of funding for federal agencies to secure their data centers. Until the recent establishment of working capital funds for agency CIOs, funds for data center security and optimization have been scarce.
The American Technology Council (ATC) recently released the final version of the Report to the President on Federal IT Modernization, placing much emphasis on security based approaches. With the passage and signage of the act into law, it established new avenues for funding but the overarching question is: Can Federal agencies address the security concerns that accompany converged infrastructure adaptation?
Users need the reassurance of data security, available funding, and personnel to support the effort in order to make the switch. Agencies that are slowest to adopt want to be sure that security concerns such as forced updates and interoperability will not put their data at risk. But according to the IT modernization report, a plan has been laid out to reduce the attack surface for data and enhanced federal applications. Additionally, the MeriTalk report found that data centers demands have changed over the past year. The study found that 73% say workload volume has increased within their agency, and 79% say data volume has increased. With these constant changes in data centers, agencies are struggling to meet needs.
The takeaway: agencies need other solutions, such as converged infrastructure when it comes to data storage and implementation of new converged strategies.
By implementation of converged infrastructure, agencies open the doors to scalability, improvement of data protection, and optimization. Users of converged infrastructure have found various measurable improvements within their agency, including growth in operational efficiency and mission success, and reduction in management costs and power or cooling costs.
“The road to an integrated IT system should not be a daunting one,” said Rob Stein, U.S. Public Sector VP at NetApp. “Most of today’s data centers and related systems cannot keep up with the growing amount of data within federal agencies. Integrating all the pieces of the data center together radically simplifies data management, especially in the new hybrid cloud world.”
As outlined in the MeriTalk report, rather than treating federal networks as trusted entities to be defended at the perimeter, agencies should shift their focus to placing protections closer to data. This approach has the potential to better block and isolate malicious activity. Through implementing the security recommendation from the IT modernization report, federal CIOs will have the ability to keep up with the growing data needs of their agency.
The adoption of converged infrastructure is among one of the next steps for federal IT, with 79% expecting the use of converged infrastructure to significantly increase by 2020. The future points to converged, and while the implementation may seem daunting, the benefits for data and cloud security definitely prevail.
Caroline Boyd is Director of Government Programs at MeriTalk where she facilitates programs to further dialogue, debate, and discussion on improving the outcomes of government IT and the issues driving Federal technology priorities. She previously served as the Assistant Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia.