Data wasn’t meant to sit dormant in the cloud. Nor was it meant to be saddled up with one storage provider and shooed off to the horizon.
As agencies’ IT environments are in a constant flux, data should be the foundation of consistency, because without accessible and available data, organizations can’t hope to attain the best of up-and-coming technologies — no matter how flashy and geared-up they are.
“If you build a high-performance car and put bicycle tires on it, you’re going to get bike-level performance no matter how hard you try,” said Nick Psaki, Principal Engineer for the Federal Division at Pure Storage, which provides data service platforms for on-premise and cloud environments.
GovLoop recently interviewed Psaki about the importance of data availability in hybrid cloud environments. He said that for modern IT to succeed, data needs to be at the core of agencies, both on premises and in the cloud.
The three points to follow will help agencies keep the wheels rolling on modernization and mission endeavors.
1. Platforms should be simple.
Sticking with the car analogy, in a NASCAR race, pit crews routinely have to change out tires and provide maintenance. But while the focus of the sport is driving, bad pit stops are equally as damaging as poor performance on the road.
When agencies are getting data service platforms in place, they need to be sure that they’re not stuck in neutral, trying to figure out platforms while they have work to do. The pit stop should be quick, so they can get back on the move. In tech terms, that means every maintenance or upgrade project must be non-disruptive to operations, and systems should require very little effort to install, operate and maintain.
Any system should be simple – built for users whether the data is on premises or in the cloud. Simple means more intuitive, quick and easy to use. Otherwise, the next time agencies reconsider their IT infrastructure, they’ll interrupt business by reconfiguring the system all over again.
2. Platforms should be seamless.
With all of the hype around cloud, on-premise infrastructure is often viewed as the government IT stepchild. It shouldn’t be.
On-premise applications and storage remain the preference for many different situations.
Any data service or storage platform that’s built for the cloud should also work on premises, with the same functionality and integration. Very few organizations truly have everything in the cloud, so when organizations ignore on-premise systems, they also ignore important data and functionality.
Most organizations remain in a hybrid cloud state, and they will for the foreseeable future. Data service platforms should be flexible enough to gel in any environment, not corner agencies into an IT layout that doesn’t work for them.
“It also allows you to avoid a vendor lock-in trap, by having some say in how your data gets managed and migrated,” Psaki said.
3. Platforms should be sustainable.
Times change, and just because content grows older, it doesn’t mean that it becomes less valuable. Think about your favorite home videos or movies. The same movie can be stored on VHS tape or DVD, and the only difference is the technology has been updated.
Data storage and service are similar. Agencies need to seek out platforms that grow with the times and bring the data with them. Pure Storage, for example, delivers its data service platform through software, and it will automatically update the system hardware as a part of the maintenance subscription to match the newest model. The result is a system that is perpetually sustained and improved over time, at no additional cost.
When everyone is working from the latest and greatest version, using a vast base of data, agencies can explore historical trends and dive deeper into analysis.
“Data is long-lived. And making data available to use cases that we didn’t even envision five years ago or 10 years ago has become a significant challenge for organizations,” Psaki said.