Dec 04 2017
Data Center

GSA Gives Agencies More Options to Modernize Data Centers via Hyperconvergence

As agencies face pressure to optimize and virtualize their data centers, the GSA’s new hyperconverged infrastructure contract will allow agencies to move away from legacy setups.

Federal agencies are facing demands to modernize their data centers. The General Services Administration recently gave them a new tool to do so.

Last month, the GSA added 10 hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions from Nutanix to its IT Schedule 70 contract. The GSA says the 10 distinct Nutanix product solutions offered under the new agreement “cover the most common HCI applications and will enable agencies to simplify their data centers and transition away from legacy infrastructure to a more operationally efficient, modern and optimized platform.”

The GSA says the HCI “will help agencies meet a wide variety of federal mandates, including the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) and the requirements put in place by the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act.” Additionally, HCI helps agencies move into the cloud “by providing the core infrastructure building block for cloud technologies,” GSA notes.

The DCOI, begun in the summer of 2016 by the Obama administration, is pushing agencies to close at least 25 percent of their tiered data centers (the large data center facilities) and 60 percent of their nontiered data centers (such as server rooms) by Sept. 30, 2018. 

DCOI also is designed to spur virtualization. It says that agencies “shall continue to principally reduce application, system and database inventories to essential enterprise levels by increasing the use of virtualization to enable pooling of storage, network and computer resources, and dynamic allocation on-demand.”

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Hyperconverged platforms can help in this regard, because they combine computing, storage, networking and virtualization capabilities into a single appliance, all pre-integrated and controlled by one management layer.

“The addition of the HCI platform under the FITARA initiatives provides federal agencies with access to a streamlined procurement option for easily and efficiently transitioning to a converged cloud environment, whether public, private or hybrid,” Kay Ely, assistant commissioner of GSA's Office of Information Technology Category, said in the press release announcing the Nutanix agreement. “By making this highly innovative — and cost saving — new technology available governmentwide, GSA is able to continue to provide value for our partners across the government.”

The new GSA agreement includes a pilot program that allows agency buyers to try an entry-level HCI system designed for small agencies and pay around 50 percent of the previous GSA pricing. Once the pilot is completed, the base system can easily be expanded should the agency decide to continue with HCI, according to the GSA.

HCI Delivers Tangible Benefits to Agencies

While the GSA contract will likely help agencies adopt HCI solutions going forward, several departments and bureaus have already seen benefits from hyperconvergence.

Earlier this year the Defense Department deployed HCI solutions from Nutanix that also used IBM Power Systems, Defense Systems reports. The solution, according to the publication, is designed to help handle larger cache sizes, streamline data influx, better organize intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information, and consolidate IT systems.

DOD has used the technology to modernize its data centers and increase efficiencies, Nutanix claims. “The military is facing significant challenges in terms of their ability to process the ever-increasing influx of data — such as what is being generated from [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] efforts — while running these applications on legacy systems and infrastructure,” Chris Howard, vice president of federal sales for Nutanix, tells Defense Systems.

In 2015, the FBI launched combined Dell hyperconverged appliances and Nutanix software to help support a virtual desktop infrastructure deployment, Nextgov reports.

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