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GCN : June 2015
GCN JUNE 2015 • GCN.COM 23 Data storage requirements are exploding at every level of government, but not all agency budgets are created equal. Smaller federal agencies and state and local governments have the challenge of crafting secure, scal- able and accessible storage solutions at an affordable price. Here’s how some of them are tackling that challenge. Small storage, small agency “In this day and age, for anyone, especially small or medium, to build any kind of stor- age solution is really bizarre,” said Tony Summerlin, senior strategic adviser to CIO David Bray at the Federal Communications Commission. “It really should just be a deci- sion as to which cloud provider they’re going to use for storage. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense to own anything.” In fact, Summerlin recommended that smaller agencies consider using the storage that comes with their software-as-a-service or platform-as-a-service solution. “What people are trying to do is separate the app from the storage, and it’s not that easy,” he added. Christian Heiter, chief technology officer at Hitachi Data Systems Federal, sees cloud- based storage as a great option for smaller agencies. “I think people are still trying to learn about it,” he said. “It’s still a new area. Some people would still like to keep it pri- vate because they understand that imple- mentation, but the cloud provides a nice ca- pability in the future.” He added that “if there’s a good cloud implementation, they can start working with their infrastructure in the cloud or their ap- plication in the cloud or the software that they need and move into a private implemen- tation later if they find their needs change.” Rob Stein, vice president of NetApp’s U.S . Public Sector, offered a variation on the usual on-premise, virtualization and hybrid cloud decisions that dominate discussions about keeping storage on budget. NetApp espouses a multitenant storage solution for smaller federal agencies and state and local government agencies. In that model, departments become ten- ants in a governmentwide or hybrid cloud storage solution instead of buying their own. Small storage, small budget “The budget challenge is usually on the capi- tal expenditure,” Summerlin said. “If you can somehow roll it into an [operations and maintenance] situation rather than doing [it as a capital expenditure], then you’re always in better shape in government.” And when asking for money to expand agency storage, Summerlin advised empha- sizing transparency and the need to better serve the public. Although storage isn’t sexy, he added, it’s vital to most agencies’ missions. Small storage, big planning Whatever your approach to storage, you can expect to need a lot of it, Summerlin said. “You better plan for the fact that every- body’s kept everything forever, in one way or another,” he added. “Planning for storage is something you better do and try to get as much of it either off-line or near off-line as possible.” And make sure you budget for it, too. “It does cost money,” Summerlin said. “They say that storage is practically free, but ‘practi- To solve the ongoing storage challenge, smaller agencies often need look no further than the cloud Storage at (smaller) government scale BY WILL KELLY 0615gcn_022-024.indd 23 6/2/15 9:43 AM