Managing the vast amounts of data that public sector organizations produce is one of the most challenging but important tasks IT teams face today. From educational institutions to federal, state and local governments, being able to put data to work and not just store it in data centers is a central factor in mission success.  Recently, the NetApp US Public Sector team joined with their distribution, reseller and alliance partners – including Cisco – to discuss how their solutions work together to support public sector organizations as they implement data-driven programs.  We had the opportunity to sit down with Rob Stein, Vice President of US Public Sector at NetApp to hear more about the event and learn more about the value of these technology partnerships.

GovDataDownload (GDD): Why are strong partnerships so important when it comes to building, deploying, and managing data and data storage environments?

Rob Stein (RS): The ability to manage data, regardless of where it is stored, is the key to success for public agencies. These storage environments involve multiple technologies and solutions so our partners are really the key to putting those solutions together. NetApp’s solutions focus on data storage and management and are typically one component of a more complex solution that public sector organizations need to meet their goals and effectively execute their mission. While our data management solutions are best in class, the value is truly realized in combination with our partners’ solutions.  So an event like Partner Summit is really important because, in a lot of cases, our partners are out there representing both their organization and NetApp.  So, it’s critical that they are completely up to speed on our value and help position NetApp as an organization that helps customers manage and control data. That’s why it was so valuable to be able to share ideas and have discussions with the more than 400 attendees of our recent Partner Summit.

GDD:  One of NetApp’s strongest partners is Cisco. Can you tell us what the partnership brings to public sector organizations?

RS: The NetApp-Cisco partnership is at the core of what so many agencies are doing in creating cloud-based infrastructures to meet the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) mandate. We have partnered with Cisco for more than a decade and for the past six years we have had a specific partnership focused on converged infrastructure and FlexPod, which utilizes Cisco servers and networking with NetApp storage. FlexPod delivers simplicity, efficiencies and real capabilities to our customers who want to manage and control their data on premise or to a service provider that wants to deliver a cloud-based or a shared service to their customers. In the past, customers had to assemble this type of solution on their own, but when delivered natively we bring far greater value – both financial and in time savings – to them.

GDD: What are some of the challenges your customers are faced with today? How do you see FlexPod addressing some of these challenges?

RS: The way IT solutions have evolved doesn’t always match the ways in which our customers have to deliver it. So, when a customer has reached the point where they know what data they need to store, where it needs to be stored, and how it will be used and accessed, we can help them define their storage infrastructure.  FlexPod brings a great solution to the situation at hand because it helps consolidate and simplify the customer’s infrastructure.  Essentially, it helps ease management burden for how they have to run infrastructure, and provides great reliability and scalability.

But that’s just the first step in the journey to a successful hybrid environment. At the same time, our customers are trying to figure out what applications or what workloads they can run in a private, public, or hybrid cloud environment. Email and other workloads that can be outsourced are being put in these clouds. Before organizations can take the first step to moving into the cloud, they must determine what data and services can be moved to the cloud. Then, they need to know how they will control the data and move it across multi-cloud and on-premise environments. That’s a big challenge, yet with FlexPod and NetApp’s Data Fabric customers can easily move and control their data back across a hybrid environment.

Mandates around security, governance and privacy affect Public Sector data management efforts immensely, so FlexPod and Data Fabric become even more valuable in helping customers navigate complex legal and regulatory environments. They can own a portion of a FedRAMP-certified secure data center and still connect it to the public cloud. This allows them to use the compute power of the public cloud while enabling them to retain control of their data in their private cloud.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to NetApp’s technology-inspired, value-driven partnerships.  To learn more about them click here.