Government Data in a Digital World
Government agency leaders, like most other executives facing today’s budget realities, are focused on improving performance through technology and efficiency. To do this, the federal government and its agencies are working to consolidate their data centers to help increase productivity, decrease cost and create fewer, more heavily secured targets that are less vulnerable to hackers.
Dramatic changes in the amount and uses of data have led to new challenges for data centers, particularly for government agencies. “These changes are leading to the development of the digital economy and forcing heads of data centers to focus on agility, innovation and gaining a competitive advantage. However, data centers must also use the latest technologies and integrate through intelligent software layers,” asserts the Gartner report published October 2015, “How to Select the Correct Data Center Option for the Digital World.”
The Federal Data Center Consolidation initiative has a fourfold focus: Promote the use of green IT by reducing the overall energy and real estate footprint of government data centers; reduce the cost of data center hardware, software and operations; increase the overall IT security posture of the government; and shift IT investments to more efficient computing platforms and technologies.
Data centers then and now
The concept of data centers — one large mainframe with infrastructure and storage elements kept in a room — has been around since the 1960s. While there have been changes in technology for power and cooling, and improvements in the design and build of these structures, their basic function and core requirements have stayed the same. These are focused on high levels of availability and redundancy; strong, well-documented processes to manage change; traditional vendor management; and segmented organizational structures. But this method no longer works for the digital world.
Among the growing trends driving the need for data center consolidation are the continued adoption of mobile devices, the corresponding growth of mobile data, migration to higher density computing platforms, and the rise of big data, all of which exhaust the amount of available space, power and bandwidth within existing federal data center facilities.
Government data center challenges
As Lee Tamassia stated in an Equinix blog post, “Like almost all organizations, federal agencies are facing an evolving technology landscape and are finding it challenging to develop an enterprise architecture that allows them to harness, manage and deliver value in the midst of tremendous change.”
Among the challenges for government agencies are providing standardized, robustly interconnected data centers that are available to support the combatant commands, military services, and agency requirements as needed while also providing cutting-edge, secure and globally accessible technologies in support of mission partners, regardless of agency or military service affiliation, all at an affordable price tag. Data security has become an ever-pressing responsibility with the rise of cyberattacks and the implementation of FISMA, which regulates issues of cybersecurity.
Tomorrow’s government data center
It is evident that government data centers will need to be modernized to accommodate multiple types of future needs, as reflected in the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) data center consolidation efforts. DISA is moving aggressively to create a streamlined, robust operation that meets not only today’s demands but also those of the future.
“Consolidation will establish a core computing infrastructure that provides assured and ubiquitous access to vital enterprise services and aggregates computing services and infrastructure requirements to gain economic efficiencies of scale,” according to DISA.
And as the Office of Management and Budget releases two new policies this spring on data center optimization and open source policy, the role of the data center will become more significant.
According to Gartner, "As a new digital world emerges from the dual impact of the Nexus of Forces (cloud, social, mobile and information) and the Internet of Things, the personality, structure and role of data centers will need to be changed or business agility and competitive strength will be compromised.”
Over the next five, the profile, topology and purpose of data centers must change dramatically from design and implementation to operation. Download Gartner’s October 2015 report, “How to Select the Correct Data Center Option for the Digital World,” to understand its recommendations for a modern data center strategy, including three different data center personality models to classify your workloads.