Modernize and innovate with data virtualization

FITARA brings new requirements for agencies' data management -- but also the opportunity for true transformation.

Shutterstock image: data center lights and hardware.

A version of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) will soon become law as part of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization act, which now awaits the president's signature. In addition to empowering federal CIOs with greater purchasing power and oversight of IT investments, the bill includes language that would impose additional data center consolidation requirements on federal agencies.

There is no question that FITARA hammers home the need for data center modernization and optimization – and to be successful, those efforts require both the adoption of new approaches to consolidation and the employment of new technologies.

FITARA specifically addresses data center optimization by calling for an initiative to boost the "efficiency of federal data centers,” including examining data center footprints, server utilization, energy efficiency and labor costs. It goes without saying that most agencies want to take advantage of the benefits associated with modernization -- these include reducing costs, improving compute power, boosting security and deploying shared services. The sheer size and complexity of most data centers today, however, necessitate new technologies and methodologies to accomplish these initiatives.

A Culture of IT Transformation

Unfortunately, agency modernization efforts are stuck in neutral with recent estimates suggesting that by the end of 2014, just over 1,100 data centers will have closed – not even half of the stated target. The size, number and complexity of databases and applications have increased significantly, and as a result migration projects have become multi-year efforts -- incurring significant hurdles relating to data security, resources and budget, application rationalization and production system downtime.

Two major trends – big data and cloud computing – have pushed many organizations to reconsider their data center architectures. Agencies need the ability to quickly and easily move data when and where they need it, but poorly utilized applications and legacy infrastructure often make this impossible. As a result, many agencies are initiating projects to migrate legacy data center technology to modern (usually cloud-based) platforms, to consolidate data centers via virtualization, or both. 

Achieving More with Less

So what does it take for agencies to reach their modernization and optimization goals? Two words: data virtualization.

By virtualizing the data inside databases, data warehouses, and applications and files, virtual copies can be distributed throughout the agency ecosystem on demand, drastically reducing the time it takes to request copies of databases for development and testing, rationalize and launch new applications or respond to compliance and reporting requirements. This process can completely transform government data centers by lowering data management and storage costs by up to 90 percent, accelerating application delivery by up to 50 percent and maintaining data integrity and security. Just as server virtualization was transformative, data virtualization is proving to do the same.

Virtual data solutions can eliminate the data bottlenecks and storage requirements, to facilitate government modernization and optimization efforts. This virtual data on demand approach can greatly enhance agencies’ optimization efforts by drastically reducing infrastructure footprint and data constraints, in addition to facilitating their consolidation efforts and reducing ongoing operational expenses.

Federal IT Future is Now

Across the federal government, modernization, consolidation and innovation have become imperative.  FITARA mandates that agencies adopt new technologies and try alternative approaches in order to adapt to the federal government's current and future needs. Utilizing data virtualization can help get them there.

Data virtualization transforms data management and gives agencies greater control of their data, infrastructure and costs. It enables agencies to streamline large modernization and consolidation projects while significantly lowering costs, shortening timeframes and minimizing risk – resulting in a much higher degree of success.

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