Building blocks of the enterprise

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

How to improve data management at your agency

State governments keep track of our lives from the day we are born to the day you die. They issue a birth certificate at the beginning, and a death certificate at the end. And in between, governments -- local, state or federal -- maintain important files about income taxes, property taxes, drivers’ licenses, marriage licenses and more. Given that responsibility, and the fact that public tax dollars maintain those records, agencies must deploy technology that manages and protects such data so that government runs more efficiently and securely than without it.

The key to managing and securing this vital data is to deploy and maintain a software-defined storage platform that operates across IT environments regardless of whether they are on-premise, in the cloud or a hybrid of both. It needs to work whether an agency’s operating system is Windows or Linux; whether the data center hardware is from Cisco, Dell or HP; whether the cloud platform is Windows Azure, Amazon’s AWS, Google Cloud or some other provider’s; and whether the applications are running in Docker, some other virtualized container or none at all.  

The right software-defined storage (SDS) platform can smoothly manage any workload on any type of infrastructure -- and in many cases, across a hodgepodge of IT.

We see evidence that the software-defined storage market is about to really take off. A global  SDS market report, released in March, forecast that SDS will see a 28 percent compound annual growth rate in sales by 2025.

What causes IT inefficiencies now is that an agency is served by one storage vendor while files may be served by another vendor. Secondary storage needs may require working with still another storage vendor.

At the same time, agencies are dealing with a data explosion caused by the growth in everything from PCs to smartphones to the internet-of-things phenomenon where everything from cars to refrigerators are being connected to the Internet.

Both private enterprises and government agencies have data management challenges. Businesses must protect the security of their customers’ data, such as credit card records, as much as the government must protect tax records.

But what’s unique about government is the responsibility and accountability for spending taxpayer dollars. Ultimately, agencies are trying to protect their IT assets so taxpayers can rest assured that no one is hacking their IRS account, 401(k) plan or Social Security benefits.

The whole idea behind developing a SDS platform is that the architecture of an agency’s IT resources should seamlessly embrace hardware innovations as they come along. Agencies want to be able to consume storage assets based on application needs, which are constantly evolving.

Most agencies have on-premise compute or storage assets, but as their computing needs grow, they will likely add on cloud capacity. They might not be on a cloud journey today, but migration could be on their 12-month or 18-month road map. If so, they will want to future-proof their storage with modernization in mind.

Adopting a SDS platform also addresses a challenge faced by both government and enterprise customers called mass data fragmentation. When a file system is created, there is free space to store file blocks contiguously. However, as files are added, removed or changed in size, the array of free space becomes fragmented.

Imagine a situation where you, as a consumer, go to Amazon.com to buy some toys for your children. If you next want to buy a sweater for yourself, you don't have to log out of Amazon Toys and log in to Amazon Clothes. A network supported by an SDS platform allows defragmentation, so users only have to log in to Amazon.com once to shop for many different products. Government IT planners must offer taxpayers the same smooth user experience when they are visiting IRS.gov or the website of their state motor vehicles department or city assessor.

Adopting a software-defined storage platform is all about empowering organizations, public or private, to execute their IT plan to include the capabilities that they need in modern day IT, such as security, modernization, audit trails and the ability to support multiple workloads all through a single pane of glass. I believe that this is where technology is heading.

About the Author

Srinivas Lakshman is co-founder and VP of engineering at Hedvig.

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