What Big Data Means in the Public Sector

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The role of the government agencies is to protect and serve its citizens. Doing so in the face of our present day data explosion makes that job more challenging than ever. This data can come from many different sources (friend and foe), can often be unstructured (or, more precisely: non-relational) and increasingly needs to be dealt with in near real-time. Furthermore, in this tough economy, you need to be to properly equipped to accomplish your mission as cost-effectively as possible: Tax revenue is the blood, sweat and tears of its citizen and should never be squandered away. 

Today, data is coming in such large quantities, speeds and variety, that old processes and tools no longer pass muster. Continuing to do the same thing is not an option. Big data analytics helps you meet these pressing challenges, often where traditional analytics tools fall short. Having tools to manage and gain insights from big data provides the potential for you to be more responsive to the needs of your citizens. It does so by both improving existing capabilities and potentially enabling totally new ones.

The “rotary engine”, if you will, of big data consists of high speed analytics, data bandwidth and large content repositories. All three are necessary. Without access to large content repositories for trending information and context, or without the bandwidth to deliver that data to the right place at the right time, and without the scale-out tools to process the information, near real-time analytics is impossible.

There is a wealth of tools available to you within this emerging NewSQL and NoSQL analytics market. This market is a growing ecosystem comprised of start-ups, pre-IPO companies, as well as the usual suspects, like Microsoft, Teradata, Oracle and SAP.  As such, you need to choose your technology partners carefully.

These are truly “interesting times” (in the Chinese curse sense): On the one hand, very exciting and dynamic as many new start-ups are emerging with new ideas, ambitious plans for IPOs and rapid growth. On the other hand, these times are also very unnerving: These new applications pose new potential security risks, educational challenges (different skillsets required) and, as in past times of technological transformation, you need to be sure the company you partner with will still be around in 5 - 10 years.

What happens if you make a big bet on one of these new technologies, only to see it go out of business? Do you have a fallback plan?  Will your storage infrastructure help you or hurt you if you need to quickly rollback to an earlier state?

NetApp Public Sector’s focus is to provide a reliable, low risk, enterprise-ready data infrastructure allowing workflows to be created with all of these analytics tools, old and new. As the #1 provider of storage to the Federal government, NetApp has proven itself in this area over the past 14 years, time and time again, in some of the most demanding and hostile environments. We’re not going to abandon you now!

Whether its fraud prevention, cyber security, weather prediction, tactical operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations or space exploration, our best-of-breed data storage solutions are continuing to prove their worth.

The latest tool to help you meet these challenges is the FlexPod Select, a collaborative effort of NetApp and Cisco Systems. FlexPod Select is a 4th generation integrated data center infrastructure.  At the heart of this solution is NetApp’s Clustered Data ONTAP operating system, which is hypervisor agnostic, supporting the same non-disruptive operations, storage efficiency and simple management you have depended upon in the past. With it is also our E-Series 5500 platform, with proven capacity density and industry leading sequential I/O performance. The two together, provide a robust data infrastructure that is truly software defined, in the sense that its use is totally determined at runtime, by how the resources are carved up by the orchestration, management and workflow automation tools.

With FlexPod Select, NetApp and Cisco, along with their partner communities, have handled the engineering and integration for you, so you can focus on your mission and your application workflows. The difference between FlexPod Select and previous generations of FlexPod is that it is equipped to handle these challenging big data applications, including support for Hadoop, OpenStack and other Open Source applications.

You mission is always changing. Our vision has not, even in the face of big data: It is to work with our partners to provide you always-on, best-of-breed data management solutions to help you manage your data from cradle-to-grave, scale with you as your mission grows and at the same time drive your operating costs out of the infrastructure. NetApp is unwavering in that commitment to you.

Dale Wickizer, CTO, NetApp U.S. Public Sector