Google data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Where is all that agency data coming from?

Agencies are not only dealing with massive amounts of data coming into their systems, but they are also  challenged by  sorting, analyzing and developing useful information from it. And then there is storage, which is expanding to an unprecedented scale.

So where is it all coming from?

Big data and full-motion video are propelling storage growth in federal agencies, Pierre Bernasconi, a principal consultant with GovWin Consulting, wrote in a recent blog post  about GovWin’s study of data storage needs. 

The Defense Department is by far the largest spender on a per-agency basis for electronic data storage.  The three commands – Army, Navy and Air Force – and DOD headquarters accounted for 58.4 percent of all federal spending on electronic data storage. The Health and Human Services Department, the fifth largest, was the only civilian agency among the top five.

Nearly all federal departments are engaged in the $1.02 billion electronic data storage market, but not all departments employ the same storage approach, the study states.  Departmental strategies for utilizing electronic data storage are often determined by the sensitivity of their data.

Defense and civilian agencies with sensitive personal or national security data generally prefer to keep their data in-house. However, departments such as the IRS and Census Bureau use contractor-hosted data storage because their cyclical operations make it more cost effective to pay for actual use rather than to maintain the infrastructure the full year.

Increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the intelligence community as well as potential integration of UAVs into the national airspace for agriculture monitoring and state and local law enforcement will require significant investments in electronic data storage, the study states.

When the study mentions big data, you have to drill down and look at the applications driving data growth, said Mark Weber, president of NetApp’s U.S. public sector organization.
Specific applications driving big data are cybersecurity, packet capture, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. "That is where the predominance of data growth will be in the future," Weber said.
The requirements of the Affordable Care Act also will fuel the growth of electronic health-related data in HHS and the Veterans Affairs Department. The VA’s big data needs will also expand as the numbers of retiring veterans increases, the study states.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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