Like their peers in other industries, state and local IT leaders are interested in modernization, but budget constraints often stand in the way. In my experience working with government agencies, many organizations wait five years or even longer to upgrade their data center infrastructures.
One obvious consequence of maintaining this legacy infrastructure is suboptimal performance. As equipment ages, it tends to perform poorly, especially compared to the latest generation of infrastructure available in the marketplace. But agencies that delay infrastructure upgrades also are robbing themselves of an opportunity to reduce the maintenance and management burden on their IT staff, consolidate resources and generally simplify operations in the data center.
Here are four ways that states, cities and counties can streamline data center management through modernization.
Most states and cities continue to operate with traditional three-tier architectures in their data centers, often without any sort of centralized management or even shared storage. Hyperconverged infrastructure — which combines computing, storage and networking in a single solution — can dramatically reduce the burden of managing the data center. Hyperconvergence is an especially good fit for workloads that are likely to scale up over time; because of the self-contained nature of hyperconverged infrastructure, data center administrators can quickly and easily expand their clusters by simply adding new nodes.
Integrated backup solutions, such as the Integrated Data Protection Appliance from Dell EMC, use convergence to offer complete backup, replication, recovery, deduplication, instant access and restore capabilities — all in a single appliance. Like hyperconverged infrastructure, integrated backup solutions scale out rapidly and easily, and setup is a breeze. Typically, an organization can unbox an integrated backup appliance and begin backing up the environment within an hour. Many organizations are still backing up data with tape — a cumbersome and often pricey process. If managing backups has become a pain point for an IT team, integrated backup solutions present an opportunity to significantly simplify operations.
Automation and Orchestration
By embracing automation and orchestration, data center administrators can save their teams countless hours spent on rote tasks and then redirect that time and talent toward more strategic, mission-critical projects. Take a repeatable task as simple as provisioning a virtual machine. By relying on scripts to create those resources, IT staffers can provision 100 VMs in the blink of an eye rather than toiling over the task manually.
Software as a Service
Pushing applications to the cloud via Software as a Service programs can simplify data center operations in multiple ways. For one, the switch from running software in-house to running it in the cloud reduces the number of virtual or physical servers in the data center, giving IT shops less infrastructure to manage. SaaS programs also are automatically patched and updated by the vendor, eliminating the need for internal staff to spend time on these processes — and also preventing the cybersecurity vulnerabilities that can pop up when programs go unpatched. This isn’t breaking news, of course. Organizations in government and other industries began moving email to the cloud years ago to reduce the management burden on their staffs, and other applications soon followed. But during a data center modernization effort, it’s worth taking a second look at SaaS to see whether there are new opportunities to switch to cloud applications.
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