Flash Storage Increases IT Capabilities for Government Agencies without Busting Budgets

Increasingly, the applications that control key IT operations demand improved responsiveness to handle transactional workloads more quickly, with extremely low latency, over high-end IOPS. Flash storage array has proven to offer the consistent performance needed to increase efficiencies while maintaining a lower total cost of ownership. Recently GovDataDownload had the opportunity to sit down with Gary Hale, Vice President of Systems Engineering at NetApp U.S Public Sector, to discuss some of the challenges facing public sector IT leaders and how innovations in flash data storage and memory are helping alleviate some of the conflicting pressures on their teams. Here’s what Gary had to say:

GovDataDownload (GDD): What are some of the challenges that IT leaders in the government and education sectors are facing?gary.jpg

Gary Hale (GH): IT requirements at federal, state, local, and education (SLED) agencies must keep pace with the evolution of technology while they continue to operate in tighter and tighter budget environments. They strive to meet both constituent demands for greater connectivity, lower latency, and greater data storage capability amid mandated budget cuts, strict data privacy regulations, and requirements for cloud offerings and shared services.

All-flash storage array solutions can help government IT managers and leaders satisfy these competing demands successfully. Specifically, government agencies at all levels are turning to solutions that are priced for performance and offer a dedicated high-performance storage platform to support workloads and databases that may be non-sequential. Flash can help the agency stay within budget while they provide a higher level of storage performance, with the high IOPS, absolute and consistently sub-millisecond latency, and bandwidth that are essential for applications such as databases, analytics, and backup.

GDD: Why is moving to flash memory a good option for IT leaders who find themselves responsible for doing more with less?

GH: Flash offers this dedicated high-performance capability without consuming much rack-unit space, so agencies save on all the additional capital expenditures that go with that, including power usage and cooling requirements. I have seen enterprises replace three entire data center racks with two systems, which equaled less than half a rack displacement while supporting dedicated workloads that can scale to hundreds of terabytes worth of storage capacity.

As the demand for flash continues to grow, more and more agencies are realizing the beauty of a virtual desktop environment where they realize a significant increase in performance using flash for dedicated workloads in a hybrid cloud environment. Despite mandates that require federal agencies to move non-classified data to the cloud and share services, the reality is that the hybrid cloud strategy will be how most federal agencies must approach their data storage.

That is because a significant amount of federal workloads, such as highly classified or personally identifiable information, will continue to be served on premises. In these cases, flash products can be incorporated into a cloud strategy to allow an agency to target certain high-performance workloads to a very elegant price-to-perform, small footprint platform.

GDD: What should an agency IT team look for when looking to move to flash storage? How should they evaluate proposals from vendors?

GH: Having proven itself, however, flash may be somewhat new to many in government agencies, so it is always prudent to look for a flash solution that will increase performance while lowering costs and be able to scale for the future. Government agencies should look for flash solution providers that can offer the following:


  1. A strong record of accomplishment – how many years has the provider your agency considering been producing a highly reliable platform that supports SAN capable workloads? Be very thorough investigating what types of stable enterprise-class connectivity and capabilities they provide.
  2. A strong company – any time a new technology offering shows promise, companies pop up offering the “best” product available. Oftentimes those nascent companies do not have the back-end set of services and support capabilities a government agency needs. Be wary of buying a flash product from a company that has only been in business for a short time, and, frankly, may not be in existence in the future. Search for an world-class data storage and management company that brings thought leadership, innovation leadership and market leadership in the federal space you can rely on to provide and sustain excellent services.
  3. Price-to-performance capabilities – whether it is for support of a virtual desk environment, video or more federal enterprise-class operating relational databases, make sure your flash solutions provider offers the greatest capability at the lowest cost and offers reliable documentation such as the Storage Performance Council’s SPC 1 Results to get a baseline for how much it should cost.


Whether your agency supports the military, healthcare regulations, education, or another essential government function, you know that you must have a highly available, highly resilient storage foundation for your IT infrastructure. Securing the right flash storage array solutions provider that allows IT administrators to perform all capacity expansion, reconfiguration, replacement of failed components, firmware upgrades, performance tuning, and data protection with almost no downtime whatsoever, is critical to your mission.


This post was originally posted on GovDataDownload.com.