Research Report: The Virtual Public Sector

Agencies invest in infrastructure upgrades

Despite intense budget pressures, agency leaders have realized that they cannot afford not to invest in network and storage modernization.

In a new survey of government IT professionals, 72 percent of respondents said their agencies planned to increase spending on their network and storage infrastructures. Only 8 percent said their budgets would decrease.

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The results of the survey, conducted by the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, reflect a broader recognition that existing infrastructures could soon be overwhelmed by the current rate of growth in data. Sixty-six percent of respondents said their agencies needed “to implement a network architecture that will enable high-velocity data capture, discovery, storage and analytics.”

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But it’s not just a matter of keeping up with the data. Agencies also are adopting cloud computing, mobile computing, big data and other technologies that can have a significant impact on the IT infrastructure. They need to ensure that the infrastructure has both the capacity and flexibility to accommodate the evolving IT environment.

Agencies have made some progress in network modernization. For example, 59 percent of respondents said their organizations had already installed wide-area network optimization appliances, and 49 percent said core routers and switches had been upgraded.

On the other hand, only 38 percent said their agencies had upgraded network services at the edge —but 52 percent said that would happen within the next year.

They also have made progress on storage modernization, upgrading their capabilities for off-site data storage and archiving (55 percent) and incorporating continuous data protection into backup functions (54 percent). Target investment areas for the next year include storage snapshot technologies, data tiering, data de-duplication and e-discovery.

Without a doubt, it would be tempting for agencies to try to make do with their existing network infrastructure, particularly when it comes to networking. Analysts at the Aberdeen Group, a market research and consulting firm, observe that from the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s, many enterprises avoided making significant changes to their core network technology.

But that is beginning to change, largely because that old-school networking technology simply is failing to keep up, with overworked networks leading to “poor performance, increased downtime and unhappy end-users,” wrote Jim Rapoza, a senior research analyst for networking and application performance.

“By rethinking their network approach, these organizations boost productivity, enable investment in new technologies, and increase the reliability of their technology,” Rapoza wrote.

Nonetheless, budget pressures remain. The survey found that slightly more than half of respondents said they found it difficult to demonstrate significant returns on investments in network or storage infrastructure.

On the other hand, 74 percent agreed that their agencies need to reduce their network and storage management costs while also improving service deliver and data protection. And agencies won’t see such gains in cost-efficiency and performance without investing in new technology.

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Methodology and survey demographics

Between February 21st and March 1st, 2014, 107 subscribers of FCW, GCN and other 1105 Government Information Group publications responded to an e-mail survey about networking and storage trends in government agencies. Survey respondents were comprised of those involved with networking and storage operations for their department or agency. Beacon Technology Partners developed the methodology, fielded the survey and compiled the results.

Approximately 88% of respondents were technology decision-makers (CIOs or other IT managers or professionals), while 12 percent were senior managers, program managers or other business decision-makers. Approximately 67 percent came from the federal government (34 percent civilian, 33 percent defense) and 33 percent from state or local government agencies.

About this Report

This report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Government Information Group Content Solutions, please email us at GIGCustomMedia@1105govinfo.com