Dorio Bowes, Business Development Manager at Comstor a Westcon Group company says fast and flexible access to data – a challenge that the right technology can overcome

Cloud computing has lost its status as a buzzword and become an essential tool for public sector organisations to redefine processes, improve functionality and gain control over data. According to a recent Gartner report, the cloud offers lower prices for higher usage and this has resulted in top-level improvements in efficiency.

A scalable and robust virtualised data centre can drive productivity to new levels and achieve remarkable results at improved cost and usage points. Server virtualisation technology has become a pivotal player as servers and applications are provisioned in innovative ways and both workload and storage demands are managed more efficiently.


The evolution

It’s very easy to say that there is this “evolution” of the data centre – it’s patently obvious that this evolution will take place regardless of what technology is available. However, the term can be applied to the way in which software architecture is being used to embrace the demands of data and to create an infrastructure that’s rich, user-defined and built around service delivery. NetApp has invested a significant amount of research and expertise into developing solutions that work beautifully and ensure the non-disruptive and simple deployment of software-defined storage and data centres.

The need for any agency or department to have swift response times and instant access to essential information has almost become a cliché, and yet the architecture required to achieve this level of control is often seen as unattainable. NetApp recently proved that point wrong when they created the largest virtualisation environment with the State of California.


Leading by example

The State of California has the world’s eighth largest economy and a population of 38 million and the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) relies on real time data access to respond to emergencies such as fire, flood, drought and earthquakes that are common to the region. It was vital the CNRA become more efficient both in terms of cost and functionality, especially in light of budget shortfalls and issues around communication.

The CNRA blended 29 of its departments into one, seamless shared infrastructure. The new system completely transformed the way in which the department functioned and resulted in remarkable efficiencies that previously were not possible with the old system. NetApp’s implementation radically altered service delivery and demonstrated how a government department can successfully leverage cloud computing.

This rich solution has resulted in the State of California accelerating service delivery by 70%, a cut in spending on CAPEX by 42% and OPEX by 35%, plus a reduced storage footprint of 30% whilst increasing storage capacity by 300%. These results are impressive, and have had an even greater human impact with improved response times in the face of disasters such as the recent wildfires, as well as floods and earthquakes. The system has proved invaluable throughout the 2014 drought that is the worst on record and has affected thousands. More than 100 years of data on droughts is now accessible to the CNRA and has been used to instantly assess critical areas and ensure that systems are managed to the highest levels of efficiency. The CNRA architecture shows how a well-devised platform can be leveraged to transform legacy systems and ultimately save both money and lives.


At home

Within the South African context, the public sector remains in silos with many departments unable to communicate with one another thanks easily to legacy systems and ageing technology. NetApp offers a rich alternative to these lumbering processes thanks to its experience within the public sector and its ability to simplify overall data centre architecture, reduce management complexity and leverage its technologies to ensure a tailored answer to each sector’s unique questions.

NetApp has proven expertise in creating a holistic approach that allows for the applications and the network to work together. This approach not only reduces costs – as seen in the percentages provided by the State of California – but also improves organisational agility and business processes both within and between data centres.

In the public sector, shifting to new systems has to be seamless within minimal, if any, downtime. The architectures on offer from NetApp have been designed to ensure that organisations can rapidly (and cost-effectively) shift across to new models of data centre control and management and deliver new services while ensuring uninterrupted business operations and impressive application uptime.

NetApp is committed to empowering organisations within the public sector to experience the benefits of the software defined data centre and become more flexible, responsive and competitive. This is how the data centre evolves – it breaks down technology barriers, drives agility and efficiency and harnesses the power of the cloud.