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FCW : November and December 2015
hyperconvergence produces two seemingly opposed benefits. It gives the IT shop a step function reduction in the cost and complexity of the data center by collapsing storage into a virtual, software- defined subsystem. Yet it preserves investments agencies have made in Microsoft, RedHat or VMware hypervisor technologies—all of which can run on the Nutanix platform. Virtualizing storage reduces complexity by incorporating storage management and control into the same appliance as the storage and compute hardware. The resulting turnkey form factor represents up to a 90 percent reduction in rack space. Equally important, hyperconvergence is massively scalable, enabling agencies to add capacity without adding complexity. A New Kind of Architecture The emergence of large organizations built on a virtual presence, most notably Google, Facebook, and Amazon, is possible because of a new approach to data centers. This approach—known as web-scale architecture—represents a new use of standard hardware components, open APIs, and deep virtualization— including storage. Web-scale architecture is built around distributed system design. An instance of a given service could fail and the distributed system immediately heals around the failure, without user intervention. Web scale architecture does all the intelligence in software, without proprietary hardware. These are the lessons that organizations like Google have learned over the last decade. “There’s a lot of desire to have AWS- like capabilities, to have resources on line and available,” says Langone. “[Federal agencies] are looking for more consumer grade user experiences, and much quicker access to resources. They’re looking for something like Amazon within the confines of their own IA and their own datacenter.” Federal agencies can also realize the benefits from web scale architecture used to transform traditional data centers to sleek, high performing private clouds. Radically smaller space requirements: Agencies save on the air conditioning, power and real estate costs that go along with floor space. For its IT support, one program required 60 racks of traditional gear. By moving to a hyperconverged infrastructure, that requirement shrunk to merely six racks. Infrastructure itself is dramatically smaller with hyperconvergence. Logistically easier field operations: The smaller physical footprint and fewer moving parts are boon to the military services supporting field operations. Simple, inexpensive scalability: No more buying double the storage capacity every year or the long procurement approval cycles and costly “rip and replace” operations required by bulky new infrastructure. You can grow capacity much faster by simply adding hyperconverged appliances incrementally, each about the size of a PC. This all means that an agency can at last have, in its own facilities, true cloud benefits while retaining critical data within government walls. Greater cybersecurity: An Army general in the cyber command recently commented the consolidation of IT resources reduces the attack surface for malicious hackers. Hyperconvergence radically reduces the data center attack surface. Plus, the appliance’s software bundle includes two-factor authentication—a requirement for privileged users coming from recent Office of Management and Budget policy. Stronger data protection and mission assurance: The Nutanix backup and virtual machine restore capabilities are baked in, resulting in optimal recovery point and time objectives, among other features. Lower costs: The space and power savings, mass storage reductions and ease of administration via a user- friendly management Web interface trim expenses. In addition, procuring one solution and related service and support, versus three different elements in a traditional storage approach, is inherently less expensive in hard and soft costs. In the long term, the hyperconverged infrastructure allows agencies to reset their priorities. The data center, instead of being a cumbersome cost, becomes an agile, quickly scalable resource that supports existing enterprise applications at a high level of performance, while also helping to realize the promise of emerging solutions, such as big data, digital services and mobility. This is the point of the data center consolidation initiative, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, and the overarching federal digital strategy: To start tipping expenditures away from the operation and maintenance of legacy systems and toward innovations in online services and operations that support an agency’s mission. To learn more about how Nutanix is a force for innovation in the Federal government, see our use-cases at: http:// www.nutanix.com/solutions/federal- government/federal-use-cases/ ExEcutivE insights: hypErconvErgEd infrastructurE SPONSORED CONTENT