Protecting and Preserving Your Data

This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, Forecasting the Cloud: Eight Ways the Technology is Changing Government. To download the full guide, head here.

Today, the latest buzzword in government agencies is data. The need to store data is continuing to grow at a rapid pace as agencies are finding new ways to collect and use data to provide better services. As the data becomes more valuable, so does the need to ensure it is protected and preserved for archival and compliance reasons. However, this continuous increase in storage requirements creates stress on current IT operations and budgets.

Today’s IT infrastructure and processes are increasingly finding they must adapt to these new requirements.

To deal with these new demands, GovLoop spoke with Kyle Langdon, Engineering Manager at ThunderCat Technology, about how agencies can manage storing and protecting their data in the cloud in better ways.

“One way that agencies can cope with these demands is to ensure their data storage platform is cloud ready and therefore scalable and simple to manage,” Langdon explained. “By leveraging a platform that can manage data whether it lives in a public cloud, a private cloud or a traditional storage array, this provides significant operational and technological advantages.”

Langdon noted that this approach also reduces data silos and provides the ability to place data in the location that best meets the performance and business needs.

“As the amount of unstructured data grows, the traditional means of storing and managing this data begins to reach it limits,” Langdon said. “An object based storage system provides the ideal storage space for unstructured data because it offers extremely high storage capacity, low price point, high reliability and the ability to manage a single system across multiple geographical locations.”

An object based storage system, Langdon explained, is cloud-based and provides cost effective storage of unstructured data. With an object store, data is stored as objects as opposed to files in a directory tree. Objects are then accessed using industry standard web protocols or via an API.

“In most instances the objects are read and written programmatically and end users do not directly interact directly with objects,” Langdon said. “The end user or application does not need to know where the data is stored.”

This allows for an object store to scale to 50+ petabyes and 100+ billion files, much higher than a typical network attached storage array. This data can be spread across multiple geographical regions to ensure that data is continuously available as well as provide data locally from a region to its users.

Langdon also discussed why it is critical for agencies to have their data with a cloud provider. This enables agencies to quickly and cost effectively stand up critical systems in the event of a failure in the primary data center.

“Agencies spend enormous amount of time and resources ensuring that in the event of a failure critical systems are able to either stay online or be recovered quickly,” Langdon said. “Typically, this is done by having a secondary location with equipment and resources that sit idle until a failure occurs. This equipment needs to be staffed, maintained and upgraded to ensure that it is in lock step with the production resources or it risks losing its effectiveness.”

But by leveraging a cloud provider, Langdon explained, an agency can remove many of the costs while maintaining that same state of readiness. Typical cloud models charge when services are used not when sitting idle. By standing up the critical resources in a cloud, agencies can remove many of the costs of maintaining physical equipment. Data is still replicated and agencies can still provide the same level of responsiveness ensuring the critical systems are able to be recovered.

“Data is the lifeblood of the agency,” Langdon said. “Even the most the complex IT systems have system failures and providing data recovery solutions is a requirement. Whether it is a user deleting the wrong file or a hard drive failure, the ability to quickly and reliably recover lost data is vitally important to agencies. With some of our customers they need to be able to go back six months or longer and recover. Today this is typically accomplished by leveraging a solution that includes disk and tape. This solution is complex and results in logistical issues relating to the physical management of tapes.”

Langdon said the best new alternative is to leverage a cloud storage solution (including object storage) to cost effectively retain data for extended time. By leveraging solutions from traditional backup software providers or appliances that handle the migration to the cloud, backup teams are able to securely migrate data for long-term retention to the cloud.

In short, an object storage solution enables a transition to a more automated and resilient architecture that prepares clients for a transition to a full private or hybrid cloud solution.


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