Frugal feds like reliable data products

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If data were a holiday gift, federal IT managers would like their presents in reliable, inexpensive'and none too fancy'packages. Go ahead and wrap that Oracle Corp. database in Sunday comics and plenty of tape; hold the bows and ribbons for somebody else.

At least, that's the upshot of a GCN telephone survey of federal IT managers about database trends.

Slightly more than half of those surveyed said they back up critical data with cost-effective but slow tape drives or other tape technologies. Thirty-four percent use the faster but more expensive disk-to-disk backup. Less than a quarter use pricey optical drives.

When it comes to enterprise storage technology, feds again most frequently took the simple, inexpensive approach.

Thirty-four percent of surveyed feds said they use direct-attached storage. DAS uses storage devices such as RAID arrays or tape libraries that are directly connected to single servers.

Inexpensive DAS is easy to use, but it doesn't accommodate growth well. Storage area networks ranked second most, at 26 percent.

SANs cost more, but they're good for moving large blocks of data. Network attached storage followed closely behind SANs in the survey, with 24 percent saying they used NAS, which consists of processors, hard drive and management software that serve files over a network.

Oracle was the most common database software, used by with 48 percent of respondents. Microsoft was not far behind, at 40 percent of the sample's base.

But it's a blue holiday season for the IBM brand: Only 3 percent of federal IT managers surveyed said IBM's was the most common database software at their agency.

Federal IT managers like structure, that much is clear. More than a third'35 percent'keep more than three-quarters of their data in a database, as opposed to more unstructured formats.

Words are the real currency of government, so it's no surprise that Microsoft Word documents and e-mail messages were the dominant data formats. Three-quarters of survey respondents stored Word documents, while more than two-thirds keep e-mail messages in data storage.
Slightly less than half store Web page formats, followed by 42 percent who storegeographic information system files.

Half of the survey participants said their agency has deployed storage management tools to better provide users with the data they need when they need it.

And perhaps Santa will have a little something under the tree for the 30 percent who said their agency didn't use storage management tools.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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