The Future of Federal IT Storage is Software-Defined

As a leader in the federal IT arena, you're always striving to achieve greater flexibility and efficiency in your data center optimization efforts, all while balancing budgets and looking for cost saving opportunities. However, it may seem that your data centers and networks hang in a tenuous state of compromise, as performance, stability and affordability tend to push and pull against one another in the IT environment. Thankfully, the rise of software-defined storage and networking solutions is bringing an end to this era of trade-offs, pros and cons.

Next-level virtualization

The concept of data center virtualization has cropped up in a number of areas across the IT world, and you may rely on this technique more heavily than you think - cloud computing is built on the foundation of virtual machines and hypervisors, with an added level of automation. It's easy to see why cloud and other virtualization methods are such a hit in federal agency IT departments, according to an article from FCW. February's Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act has pressured agencies to push for greater efficiency in their data center provisioning and management practices.

The source pointed to findings from NetApp's recent Market Connections survey, which revealed 35 percent of software-defined storage adopters cite reduced costs and fewer instances of downtime as benefits. In addition, 30 percent noted increased scalability as an advantage, which will be key as data storage requirements expand in scope and complexity in coming years.

"Those [data centers] that don't get closed down get modernized," said Dave Gwyn, a vice president in Nutanix's federal division. "Storage is going to be where a lot of the answers are found. I think software-defined storage is going to have a very big play in the federal government in the coming months and years."

Breaking free from silos

You've seen it firsthand on countless occasions: Traditional data center architectures are held back by network bottlenecks, tedious manual processes and other inefficiencies that demand extra money and time from your IT staff. By switching over to software-defined solutions, you can enjoy a much more fluid and dynamic infrastructure that automates many of these shortcomings. When it comes to meeting specific user demands, an additional layer of software control makes it easier than ever to design and execute workflow engines that remain resilient from end to end.

"Storage virtual machines can be created to exactly match the service-level objectives of a given customer or workload," said Jeff Baxter, principal architect for the U.S. public sector at NetApp, according to the source. "It makes it a lot easier to manage and provision."

Be an IT evangelist

While virtual machines underpin a significant element of the cloud computing movement, support for software-defined storage and networking solutions has not been as widespread. With budgets tightening and tech departments leaning out, it is the perfect time to introduce these approaches to decision-makers within your organization. If you're concerned about making the case for software-defined techniques, there are plenty of compelling reasons already sitting in your data center, according to IT Web - many of the tools required for an overhaul can be found in a typical legacy blueprint.

"Most infrastructures already have most of the components to implement software-defined data centers; all they need is to take it a step further and add some components when they do a hardware refresh," said Ian Jansen van Rensberg, senior manager for systems engineering at VMware Africa, according to the source. "In so doing, they will realize the true reality of software-defined data centers."

Your storage needs are bound to expand and diversify in the years to come. It's time to integrate software-defined storage methods into your infrastructure and get a head start.