Dec 20 2021

Why Federal Agencies Are Shifting Back to Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Agencies are moving from the cloud back to HCI in certain cases, and there are clear benefits to doing so.

It’s undoubtedly true that federal agencies have benefited immensely — especially during the coronavirus pandemic — from cloud computing tools. Cloud enabled agencies to scale up critical services when they needed to and has supported widespread telework.

However, it’s important to note that cloud is not a panacea. As agencies have accelerated their migrations to cloud environments, many IT leaders and their staff have been challenged by higher-than-expected costs, the limitations of cloud and the loss of control of their IT environments.

As a result, IT leaders in the federal government have recently warmed back up to hyperconverged infrastructure. HCI replaces the traditional, three-tier architecture for computing, storage and networking, and combines all of those elements into a single hardware unit with one virtualized management console.

Federal IT leaders are rediscovering the value of HCI, which offers both scalability and more control of the technology environment than they have when they move applications and workloads to the cloud.

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Reconsidering the Cloud for Federal Agencies

One of the main reasons agencies initially adopted hyperconverged infrastructure several years ago was that it gave IT leaders a clearer understanding of the true total cost of ownership of their IT environments and how many staff members they needed to support it. With networking, storage and compute consolidated into a single appliance, IT environments are easier to manage and require fewer specialized staff members for each of those components. IT leaders could then reassign staff members to other tasks.

HCI also allowed agency IT leaders to reuse some of their IT environment, and they didn’t have to reinvest in a completely new setup.

As agencies moved applications and data to the cloud in the early and mid-2010s, they likely put things in cloud environments that didn’t belong there. Some apps and data should not go into the cloud, for security or costs reasons.

EXPLORE: How did the Air Force refresh its data center in Germany to keep up with modern capabilities?

There are also different levels of responsibility in cloud management that some agencies likely were not prepared for. Sometimes there are just too many options and too many cloud product sets.

Cloud should be making life easier for IT teams, not more complicated. This is why agencies should turn to trusted third parties to help them manage their cloud environments and determine what should be in the cloud.

When some agencies first implemented HCI, they may not have invested in their environments appropriately and later may have tried to use public cloud tools as a way to address that. Now, many IT leaders are determining that it is a more cost-effective investment to use HCI.

RELATED: How does virtualization help agencies shrink their environmental footprint?

HCI Can Deliver Visibility and Control for Agencies

HCI gives IT leaders the capability to scale operations as needed, because HCI creates data centers that are flexible and scalable, allowing for rapid reconfiguration of equipment at a cost-effective price.

HCI also can pave the way for implementing zero trust for cybersecurity because it gives IT leaders a better grip on their environments and more visibility via a single, accessible platform. Using solutions from providers such as Dell EMCNutanixVMwareHPE and Red Hat, IT teams can have more control of their workloads.

All of those providers offer agencies the ability to integrate what they currently have and scale out their IT environments as needed. Moreover, agency data stays on-premises, and agencies are not paying for workload utilization (though they still need to calculate that).

HCI provides turnkey infrastructure that can be quickly deployed and automated, and easily scaled up or down.

As IT leaders reconsider whether certain environments should be in the cloud or should migrate back to a local environment, HCI remains a valuable tool to support that.

This article is part of FedTech’s CapITal blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #FedIT hashtag.

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