Research Report: The Virtual Public Sector

Options abound for sharpening storage management

Government agencies are investigating a broad swath of storage management processes and are open to learning about innovations in storage technologies.

A survey of federal, state and local IT professionals found a keen interest in a number of storage management processes, including data tiering, data compression, data deduplication and disk cloning.

Of those four storage management processes, 22 percent of respondents said their agency was investigating data tiering and disk cloning, 21 percent data compression and 18 percent data deduplication.

The survey also indicated that more than half of the respondents said their agency had already deployed four types of storage management processes: high-availability data protection, snapshots, data compression and disk cloning.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said their agency already has deployed high-availability data protection, snapshots and data compression. Disk cloning lagged slightly behind, with 51 percent saying their agency already has deployed that process.

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As for data deduplication, it was the process most likely to be deployed within the coming year. Twenty-four percent of respondents said their agency had selected deduplication for deployment. Twenty-one percent of respondents said their agency plans to deploy high- availability data protection in the coming year, 19 percent said their agency plans to deploy snapshots and 16 percent said their agency plans to deploy data tiering.

The survey indicated that a vast majority of federal, state and local agencies rely on five main data storage technologies. Nearly one-third of respondents (30 percent) said their agency uses storage area networks. This was followed in popularity by network-attached storage (23 percent), device attached storage (17 percent), tape-based storage (12 percent) and flash-based storage (8 percent). Ten percent of respondents said their agency was using some other storage technology than the five cited.

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Civilian agencies rely more heavily on device-attached storage than defense agencies, according to the survey.

When appraised of a new converged enterprise storage solution that incorporates virtualization of storage resources and eliminates the need for network-based storage architectures, 57 percent of the respondents said they were either favorably inclined toward the new technology solution or somewhat favorably inclined toward it.

The survey findings are in line with market research firm IDC’s “Worldwide Enterprise Storage Systems 2013-2017 Forecast: Customer Landscape Is Changing, Defining Demand for New Solutions,” which indicates that organizations can limit their purchases of new storage capacity by the use of data deduplication, data compression and storage virtualization.

The need for effective storage processes was the foremost concern of IT professionals who participated in a January 2012 study by market research and consulting firm Aberdeen Group. When asked about their top three IT pressures, 58 percent of respondents said that one of the greatest pressures facing them was meeting increasing demands for data storage, according to Aberdeen Group’s report “Three Must-Have Storage Tools for Managing Big Data.”

Aberdeen notes that data storage processes do not necessarily compete with each other because they perform different functions. For example, data deduplication and data compression manage the size of the data, whereas storage tiering manages the speed at which the data changes.

While storage virtualization, which allows organizations to manage all of their storage devices with a single application, has been around for years, only about 20 percent of organizations have deployed some means to achieve it, the Aberdeen Group study said. Storage virtualization has multiple benefits, including reduced effort to manage storage area networks, improved time to deploy servers and applications, and reduced IT expenses.

It naturally flows that the increase in data is most challenging for large organizations, the Aberdeen Group study said. “Unless organizations get smarter and more efficient, they will soon need twice the number of storage devices, twice the space in the data center, and twice the time and effort to manage their business data.”

Methodology and survey demographics

Between February 21st and March 1st, 2014, 107 subscribers of FCW, GCN and other Public Sector Media 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 Public Sector Media 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 Public Sector Media Group Content Solutions, please email us at PSMGCustomMedia@1105media.com