Federal agencies have a lot of options when they’re looking for cloud vendors. But they have far fewer options when it comes to their budgets. Many agencies are scrambling to find the money to completely replace their legacy systems with cloud infrastructure. But one vendor is presenting another option.
VMware’s vSAN offers a scalable solution that allows agencies to lay the foundation for a cloud migration. They can start small, paying for the storage upgrades they need and expanding as they go.
“We’re offering customers a suite of products called Cloud Foundation, which is a myriad of bundled SKUs that essentially provides customers the foundation to transform their agency into a cloud operating model,” said Scott Moyer, federal area director and government, education and healthcare systems integrator at VMWare. “So if you follow along, you think again about what you achieved with compute virtualization, right? Elasticity, flexibility, agility as an organization to pivot, meet new requirements, handle organizational change. And you’ve extended that capability now into networking and into storage. So now my entire data center is virtualized.”
Virtualizing data centers like this can translate into major cost savings for an agency’s IT budget. Legacy storage systems are complex proprietary systems that require specific hardware and highly trained administrators to run them. That means higher labor costs as well.
But with virtualized storage, agencies can manage their infrastructure from the top down with policies, leading to a more consistent customer experience. Performance also improves, because the storage is internal to the virtualized host, rather than requiring access to external arrays.
And this cloud foundation is interoperable with Amazon Web Services and other major cloud providers, meaning agencies can fulfill any requirements they have for a strategy to unify infrastructure under a virtual platform.
“The beautiful thing about this is now that you have this virtualized infrastructure, you have consistent infrastructure, whether I’m running an application on premise or in the cloud, and consistent infrastructure leads to consistent operations,” Moyer said. “So wherever I go, if I need to load an application on a tablet, on a phone or a laptop, I can access that application on any device, any location at any time. And that consistent infrastructure leading to consistent operations leads to a consumable developer experience. So whether we’re writing applications on premise, or in the cloud, wherever I build up the resources to develop that, I know that when I go to deploy it in production, it’s going to run in any part of my environment, public cloud, private cloud, at all times, because those environments are interoperable.”
And this kind of infrastructure also helps to increase security for an agency. That’s a major concern for most agencies right now, as the target continues to move on cybersecurity and agencies struggle to attract the talent they need in that field. Some major federal agencies have already suffered security breaches, and no one wants to be the next.
“Once they’re inside the firewall, and they hacked the first server, it’s really easy to move around laterally, or east-to-west and compromise the rest of the infrastructure,” Moyer said. “But by introducing micro segmentation or virtual firewalls around each virtual machine, you can prevent that. So now we’re accelerating service delivery with networks, we’re introducing security.”
Moyer said vSAN supports FIPS 140-2 encryption standards, which has applications not just in national security environments, but also in protecting sensitive personally identifiable information, like healthcare data.
It also adheres to the Security Technology Implementation Guides from the Defense Information Systems Agency. VMware is the only vendor that offers that level of security out of the box; most other companies say their products can be tweaked until they’re close to that standard, but vSAN is the only one that comes that way standard.
Moyer said vSAN also has defense applications through its use of edge computing to support tactical deployments. With vSAN’s hyperconvergence capabilities, field deployments are able to reduce their requirements for local data storage and compute. That allows them to deliver equivalent experiences on smaller, more portable devices.
“One of the edicts in the Department of Defense is ‘from the flagpole the foxhole.’ And the idea is that you want to be able to provide a uniform experience for the warfighter, whether they’re at garrison and going through training in the United States, or when they go downrange,” Moyer said. “When I load up an application downrange, it should run just the same as it runs if I’m at Quantico, Virginia.”
Whether agencies are looking to cut costs on data storage and compute, satisfy requirements for cloud adoption strategies, improve their cybersecurity posture or deploy smaller, more advanced technology to the field while maintaining the same experience as headquarters, vSAN can help them lay the foundation for a cloud-based future.