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Enabling an Integrated IT Environment From the Foxhole to the Cubicle

The following is an excerpt from the GovLoop Guide, The Joint Information Environment: The IT Framework for the Future. You can access the full report here, in which we describe the JIE and impact it is making at the Department of Defense. 

The Joint Information Environment (JIE), once deployed, will have far-reaching impacts on the way that the DoD shares critical information. But in order to capitalize on the benefits of the JIE framework, organizations must focus on their data storage practices, which have major implications on the ability of units and organizations to access information.

GovLoop recently spoke with Dr. Gregory Gardner, the chief architect for defense and intelligence solutions at NetApp. Dr. Gardner provided expert analysis on the JIE framework, and discussed how NetApp is helping the DoD reach its desired JIE end state.

“The target objective of the JIE is a state that optimizes all of DoD’s IT assets by converging communications, computing and enterprise services into a single joint platform, in a single security architecture,” Dr. Gardner explained. “[NetApp] believes fundamentally that is the right thing to do, and we believe that NetApp’s storage-focused solutions and services facilitate achievement of the JIE end state.”

“We believe the way we are providing data storage to the DoD, enhanced by our storage management tools, is helping the Department achieve its mission. We are enabling the DoD to move aggressively toward its goal of establishing and operating within a Joint Information Environment.”

One of the ways NetApp is helping the DoD advance toward its goals is by providing much of the data storage backbone for both tactical units and enterprise organizations. This enables the DoD to move, share, and protect data, so that information is available to decision makers and staffs across the globe quickly and securely.

“The Army uses the terminology, ‘from the cubicle to the foxhole,’” explained Dr. Gardner. “That means sharing relevant data from the enterprise user who is sitting at the Pentagon, all the way to someone who is in a Battalion Task Force or serving on a Brigade Combat Team operating overseas. Both need efficient, effective, synchronized, and optimized information. NetApp provides the data storage operating system that underpins the development of that information.”

“The NetApp storage operating system is the most widely used storage operating system in the world. Moreover, NetApp is the leading data storage provider to the Department of Defense,” said Dr. Gardner.

The reason NetApp is so widely used is that its Storage Operating System, known as DataONTAP, provides a number of unique capabilities. NetApp has the ability to de-duplicate primary data which can reduce the amount of data stored by well over 50 percent. Additionally, NetApp uses a unique approach called thin provisioning.

“With thin provisioning, you can save about 33 percent of your data storage by proportioning just enough data so people can do what they need to do and not use more than they are allotted,” said Dr. Gardner.

Another distinctive feature of the DataONTAP Operating System is that it provides the ability to quickly take snapshots of data and clone terabytes of data in just a few minutes.

“By using our snapshot technology, DoD users can backup and make changes to their data sets very quickly. This is part of what makes NetApp unique, facilitates our support to the DoD, and enables the Department to achieve its objectives,” said Dr. Gardner.

NetApp also deploys what Dr. Gardner described as an agentless, heterogeneous tool called OnCommand Insight. OnCommand Insight does not reside on a single infrastructure and it works with any type of data storage technology.

In addition to providing total visibility to all data stored on a network, OnCommand Insight also provides detailed data on all the routers and switches that are connected to the storage, as well as every virtual machine in the storage array. This provides the storage manager with exceptional information on how well storage is being used, what parts are idle, and what parts can be leveraged for other purposes. It also enables managers of storage arrays used by multiple users to see who is using how much storage and for what purposes. That information can be used to make different data storage investment decisions.

“We find that in data centers, the OnCommand Insight tool helps people manage their infrastructure much more effectively; it gives them a tool to allow them to blend technical understanding with business case analysis,” said Dr. Gardner.

NetApp is already playing an essential role to help the DoD deploy the JIE framework, and it’s one they take very seriously. “It is a significant responsibility. We are very proud to provide our DoD customers the best possible support as they execute their critical missions,” concluded Dr. Gardner.

 

Learn more about the JIE by accessing our guide.

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Photo credit, FlickR Creative Commons, Expert Infantry

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