Like large companies, federal agencies are grappling with growing stores of data, server sprawl, increased security risks and the need to incorporate newer, more effective technologies and applications. But federal agencies have additional challenges: Not only do they have more structured and unstructured data, but they must comply with a host of mandates that require major changes to the way they run their IT infrastructure. These mandates, which govern everything from how much cloud computing they use to how many data centers they must decommission, put tremendous stress on current IT infrastructures.
While most agencies have taken steps to virtualize much of their IT infrastructures, they are looking for more improvements than virtualization alone can provide. These include greater agility, lower costs, better disaster recovery and increased application performance.
According to a survey of federal IT decision-makers from Beacon Technology Partners, federal IT leaders are turning to converged infrastructure for these benefits and more. Here are some additional ways federal agencies can take advantage of converged infrastructure:
- To manage ever-growing stores of data including email, video and audio files, sensor data and social media data. The Beacon survey found that agencies will increase their data stores by an average of 38 percent per year.
- To deal with server sprawl. The Beacon survey finds that federal agencies run close to 300 servers per operation, and that they want to incorporate blade servers and increase daily server capacity utilization by about 18 percent on average.
- To meet goals related to data center consolidation—an ongoing project for all agencies since a 2011 federal mandate requiring massive consolidation. The Beacon survey found that 64 percent expect converged infrastructure to help with the data center consolidation process. And with its focus on automation and simplified management, the converged infrastructure model is particularly useful for agencies that must manage multiple data centers. “As more and more workloads in modern data centers are virtualized, the data associated with the workloads increases and is increasingly fragmented—especially information that is still associated with a siloed legacy system,” said Shawn McCarthy, IDC Government Insights Research Director. “The converged infrastructure works to group multiple IT components into a bundled and optimized system, streamlining management time and resources.”
- To enable cloud computing. Federal agencies must comply with the government’s “Cloud First” initiative, which strongly encourages agencies to move to cloud services when feasible. Because converged infrastructures automate resource provisioning and allow for the pooling of IT resources, they can be an important gateway to the cloud for agencies. They are also especially useful for private and hybrid clouds—required when agencies are dealing with particularly sensitive information. According to IDC Government Insights, federal agencies will continue to adopt private clouds at an increasing rate, mostly to meet specific IT security requirements. “Working toward a converged infrastructure can help agencies build infrastructures that are essentially cloud-ready because of the way data and services and packaged,” McCarthy said.
- To reduce costs. According to IDC, government IT agencies spend more than 60 percent of their budget on maintaining legacy systems. Converged systems lower cost in many ways. Instead of multiple refresh cycles, agencies only have to deal with one refresh cycle. According to a 2015 ESG study, 43 percent of users cited an improved total cost of ownership.
As federal IT executives look for ways to rework their IT infrastructures to meet changing needs and requirements, they are finding that convergence is an important tool. Not only can it improve data center operations, cloud adoption and data management, but it can lower costs and simplify IT operations.
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