7 Public Sector Tech Predictions for 2013

Tis’ the season for government and industry to weigh in on trends they expect to dominate the public sector technology landscape in 2013. While the insightful commentary often focuses on broader trends such as cloud computing, Big Data, cybersecurity and mobile, we thought it would be fun to assemble seven predictions that attempt to probe a little deeper into how technology will impact government agencies in 2013.

1. Big and Bit Players Will Jump into the All Flash-Array Market with Both Feet
Government agencies are painfully aware that data storage requirements are exploding, and what we expect to see in 2013 is intensifying demand for better performance and economics in how agencies can store and manage data. 2013 will be another big one for solid-state technologies. All Flash-Array storage, which can deliver enhanced performance by leveraging Solid State Storage with flash memory drives rather than hard disk drives, will be applied broadly to accelerate a wide range of workloads for both mission critical and day-to-day agency requirements.

The result for government agencies will be a competitive landscape for flash storage, filled with upstart storage providers and established vendors focused on meeting public sector demands for greater performance and more bang for their buck. As a result, we anticipate 2013 will be the year flash storage transfers from the small purchases and proof-of-concept deployments we are seeing today to larger customer deployments.

2. The Economics of Storage Will Take Center Stage
The speed with which organizations can access stored data is always part of the storage conversation, but budget-challenged agencies will continue to place a premium on driving down the costs of data storage in 2013. In other words, as the volume and diversity of data grows, agencies will seek to be more efficient with how this data is stored so that storage costs do not rise along with the more intense data demands.

The hybrid private and public cloud integration with data centers will produce pricing pressure for in-house services and in the short-term cloud integration will be used as a backup target for enterprise data. More expansive control of storage and systems administrators for the current and future data center architectures drives down the cost of labor per terabyte, but the labor cost savings will also accrue from continued automation of tasks previously managed by administrators. There will be an intriguing mixture of flash and spinning disk based on the corporate value of applications like SAP, video, and transaction processing, and the introduction of expensive flash will be app-specific rather than data center-wide.

3. 30 Percent of Organizations Will Move Some Part of Their Enterprise Application Portfolio to the Cloud
The new reality of constrained IT budgets will increase cloud service usage. More than 30% of organizations will move at least one enterprise data center workload to the cloud as well as deploy cloud services even more broadly for disaster recovery, backup, or archive.

We already see compelling examples of IT-as-a-Service across the public sector. As of August of this year, half a million Army email accounts are hosted on the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) private cloud, which is estimated to result in cost savings of tens of millions of dollars. As an example, agencies are also turning to Amazon Web Services as a way to reduce IT spend and manpower, weather budget cuts and maintain high Service Level Agreements.

4. There Will Be a Double Standard in Hypervisors
As government agencies continue to consolidate data centers and improve efficiencies in server utilization, 2013 is setting up for organizations to have more choices for their virtualized-environment hypervisors. Agencies striving to improve server utilization and reduce costs will drive many organizations to operate more than one hypervisor, and as a result the Hypervisor market in 2013 will become a multi-horse race featuring established providers and open source alternatives such as Apache CloudStack and OpenStack. 

5. Clustered Storage Will Drive Efficiency in Storage Operations
Unplanned downtime has never been tolerated in the public sector, but planned downtime has been an unavoidable annoyance. As clustered storage gains a foothold in the organization, the notion of 100 percent uptime and the elimination of planned downtime will be realities. As a result, we will see IT professionals able to deliver on the demand for non-disruptive operations for both storage and application availability.

6. Converged Infrastructures Will Replace Single-Vendor Stack Models
Government agencies are acutely aware of drawbacks associated with locking into a proprietary, closed single-vendor solution. It can be difficult – and costly – to extract itself from that type of solution, while making it challenging to integrate newer products and services. That said, organizations find appeal in having a single point of contact as opposed to having to deal with multiple providers.

For these reasons 2013 will be the year that more agencies turn to the flexibility of converged infrastructure models to enable rapid innovation. Vendor-exclusive stacks will give way to best-in-class converged infrastructures with pre-validated components and clear deployment guidance.

7. Object Storage Will Be in the Enterprise
In 2013 we will see the start of large-scale growth in object storage. The massive growth in the Internet of things (smart devices, remote sensors) and of mobile devices will lead to strong growth in object storage.

Rather than a file system approach to data storage that reads and writes fixed-size blocks of data, object-based storage organizes data in data containers. This approach can improve data resiliency and disaster recovery for organizations. In the public sector, agencies are dealing with gigantic volumes of data, much of which may be archived for decades and be available on-demand for mission critical and day-to-day operations.

Mike Giesler - Vice President, Systems Engineering, NetApp U.S. Public Sector

Rob Stein - Vice President Sales, Civilian Agencies and Inside Sales, NetApp U.S. Public Sector

Mike Walsh - Regional Director, U.S Army, Navy, Airforce, and Marines, NetApp U.S. Public Sector