Over the last two years, federal agencies—particularly the Department of Defense—have heavily invested in data management solutions, and with good reason. With an exponential increase in data to collect, finding solutions to store, analyze and apply that data is crucial to protect national interests both at home and abroad. The result? A vastly different infrastructure is needed to facilitate mission-critical tasks.

Kyle Shackett, solutions architect at Force 3, explained that in environments like those maintained by defense, intelligence, and public safety agencies, speed is critical to selecting data management solutions. “Not only must data analysis and related tasks be executed quickly, but IT teams must also be able to quickly spin-up – and take down – test environments as well.

“When you’re dealing with national security, you can’t have any latency, and, despite the need for discreet storage environments that meet clearance and classification requirements, you can’t have data silos,” Shackett said. “To be effective, you need to have a broad view of data on a single pane to be able to deliver on the mission.”

While broad views of data—much of which needs to be tiered based on security clearance—sounds  unattainable, Shackett believes that, with a converged infrastructure solution, it’s both possible and within grasp. By simultaneously and strategically investing in pre-validated solutions that include applications, servers, networking, and storage, agency IT teams can more effectively and quickly deploy complex solutions, while improving performance and reducing costs.

“A converged infrastructure solution like FlexPod from Cisco and NetApp, combined with an all-flash array, facilitates a secure multi-tenancy environment,” Shackett said. FlexPod is a pre-validated solution that integrates the compute, networking, and storage aspects of a data center. Combined with all-flash storage arrays, FlexPod can scale without downtime. With such a data management environment in place, agencies can operate active-active environments, deploy VDI for remote collaboration, and replicate data for critical continuity and recovery activities.

“For government agencies that have to keep working in the most difficult conditions and at the hour of greatest need, having a reliable and secure data management environment in place is essential,” Shackett said. “For agencies like the Department of Defense, where failure is not an option, a staged roll out—from least critical to most critical environments—is the key to success.”