Barriers to Success in Data Management

This post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent research brief, Storing the Data to Power Your Agency. In the brief, we explore the data management challenges currently confronting agencies and explain how flash-based storage solutions can help overcome those barriers.

Agencies attempting to meet new demands for increased analytics, mobility, and virtualization often find that their IT infrastructures aren’t up to the task. A primary stumbling block is the current state of storage solutions.

Specifically, many agencies continue to rely on traditional disk technology for their more critical or frequently accessed data. Disk arrays are equipped to house large amounts of data. However, to attain exponentially faster read-write capabilities and large reductions in space and power consumption, it’s time to consider flash storage.

As agencies are tasked with leveraging data in innovative, new ways, disk-based storage solutions are becoming less applicable. Not only are they unable to support the advanced functionality of modern government digital services, they also require an unsustainable amount of resources to function long-term.

Latency of Access
“The new focus in storage is on latency,” said Vaughn Stewart, Chief Evangelist for the flash storage provider, Pure Storage. “In other words, how quickly does the storage subsist and return the information that you’re seeking? Reduced latency on a simple level provides a better quality of experience with an application view.” As agencies attempt to use disk-based storage to explore large data sets, they are finding the user experience to be subpar thanks to the inherent latency in even the fastest disk arrays.

Unreliable Access
Agencies also face access challenges. “Today’s world with our hyper-connectivity doesn’t allow us to have maintenance windows with degraded performance anymore,” said Stewart. “The world doesn’t allow you to slow down anymore, so performance has to be tied in with system availability numbers.”

While any storage system requires periodic maintenance, traditional disk-based storage solutions require more labor and time intensive troubleshooting. According to a recent GovLoop survey, complicated administration procedures, difficult or persistent troubleshooting, and unreliability are all challenges associated with their current data storage infrastructures. This maintenance disrupts workflows, disconnects users from agency services, and requires IT staff to work longer hours.

Constrained Resources
In addition to being unable to support the functionality agencies require, disk-based storage consumes resources at an unsustainable rate. From a maintenance perspective, disk space requires IT know-how to run the system. The installation of additional space, a common requirement for agencies with growing data sets, is also time consuming for staff. Finally, agencies must constrain the growth of data centers, along with the space and power costs they entail. Stewart asserted, “Regardless of which agency you’re in, the world of global IT is being stressed with data resource constraints. Data centers are out of space.”

It’s not hard to see why rotating disk storage presents a target for streamlining, cost cutting, and optimization. Stewart explained, “Disk storage is the last mechanical component in the data center. It’s large, it generates a lot of heat, and it draws a lot of electricity for the moving parts.” As agencies require more data storage, these resource demands will only increase, even as agency budgets shrink.

To understand how flash-based storage solutions can overcome these challenges, be sure to read our entire research brief, Storing the Data to Power Your Agency.

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