Government Agencies Are Ready for the Benefits of Software-Defined Data Centers

The federal government has recognized the need to modernize its IT infrastructure as a critical priority. Legacy technology monopolizes between 70 and 80 percent of federal IT budgets annually, and reports have revealed certain agencies are using systems that are upwards of 50 years old. Agencies are in need of strategic options for efficiently and effectively adopting solutions that can support a true digital transformation of today’s government systems.

In many cases, software-defined data centers (SDDCs) provide an ideal solution. With more data now available from sensors and connected devices to inform them, software-defined environments put agency leaders in the best position to support their missions. When made readily accessible through a software-defined environment, the vast amount of data stemming from a digital government can be leveraged to better meet citizen and federal employee needs, as well as save taxpayer money. The move toward SDDCs can help government recognize and garner the value of data gathered through digital transformation technologies like the Internet of Things, accelerating government’s digital voyage.

Making progress

Despite modernization challenges, many federal agencies are making progress toward SDDC adoption. In Dell EMC’s State of IT Trends federal extension, a survey of federal IT leaders, 64 percent of respondents said their organization had deployed software-defined solutions, with 85 percent reporting progress in adopting SDDCs.

SDDCs enable critical network functions, like routing, switching, firewall protection and load balancing with software. According to Gartner an SDDC “enables increased levels of automation and flexibility that will underpin business agility through the increased adoption of cloud services and enable modern IT approaches.” Federal IT leaders articulated similar expectations. When asked why they were looking to SDDCs, 58 percent of respondents stated agility and flexibility, and 53 percent cited additional efficiencies. Simplifying the management process and reducing costs followed at 41 percent and 38 percent.

In addition to these benefits, SDDCs are more accessible to those without technical background. Data center changes are easier to apply in software-defined environments than in traditional data centers and as a result, less time is spent on IT service management components and IT managers can focus talents more strategically.

Where to begin?

While many agencies have started down the path to a software-defined future, what is holding others back? When it comes to moving to SDDCs, 81 percent of federal respondents said that security was an important consideration, followed by cost, noted by 61 percent of respondents. Despite these concerns, SDDCs ultimately can improve security and reduce spending.

All SDDC infrastructure components, such as compute, networking, storage, security and availability services, are abstracted and delivered as automated, policy-driven software. As a result, data security protocols are more easily applied to SDDCs and agencies can eliminate IT complexities by enabling a simplified approach through virtualization. In turn, potential security blind spots can be avoided by implementing virtual firewalls alongside traditional ones.

Though there is an upfront cost, SDDCs result in long-term ROI as they require less hardware and in turn, require less power. These funds can then be invested in new technologies and IT modernization needs.

Often agencies are unsure what steps to take to make the change. According to the State of IT Trends survey, integrating hyperconverged solutions is a good place to start. Eighty-seven percent of survey respondents recommended this integration as a move in the right direction, as hyperconverged IT architecture allows agencies to tailor infrastructure to specific application and workload needs.

Dell EMC SDDC architecture that is automated and easy to manage makes SDDCs accessible and allows agencies to more securely, efficiently and cost-effectively meet their missions. Is your agency implementing SDDC solutions? Do the survey results echo your thoughts? I welcome your comments here and invite you to learn more.

About the Author: Steve Harris