All roads lead to the cloud. In fact, our cybersecurity survey revealed a majority of state IT leaders are planning major investments in public and hybrid clouds in addition to their on-premises data centers.
Data security is a major driver behind this investment. Over the past couple of years, a plague of ransomware attacks have been perpetrated on cities. State and local agencies don’t necessarily have the deep reservoir of security talent of a large-scale enterprise or federal government agency, so they’re turning to the cloud for data protection.
The Rise of Software-Defined Data Centers
On the federal side, the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) has prompted organizations to re-evaluate their IT acquisition and infrastructure roadmaps, including strategies for on-premises and colocation data centers and cloud.
But not everyone is moving to the public cloud. In fact, spending on on-premises data centers is expected to hold steady next year, averaging about US$208B, according to research firm Gartner.
Many organizations are turning to software-defined data centers (SDDCs) to optimize these investments. In an SDDC, core data center components—network, compute, storage, and security—are consolidated, virtualized, and delivered “as-a-service.” In an SDDC, resource provisioning can be automated and allocated based on needs.
Like the cloud, SDDCs offer some notable security and efficiency benefits. Since the entire environment is virtualized, managers can gain much more visibility into the operations of their data centers and better detect vulnerabilities. This visibility can also help managers optimize their data center resources.
Three Big Questions
An SDDC may or may not be right for your agency. Here are some questions you’ll want to consider.
How big is your agency?
An SDDC is an inevitability for agencies with existing investments in data centers and on-premises workloads. SDDCs provide them with more efficiencies without sacrificing control.
SDDCs may not make as much sense for smaller agencies. Cloud service providers can offer them with a combination of security and efficiency.
How are applications developed within your agency?
Right now, many agencies employ DevOps processes and develop their own custom applications in the cloud. For them, hosted service providers continue to make sense.
Virtualization vendors are beginning to introduce tools and services to make it easier for agencies to replicate cloud-based development processes in their own private clouds. This shift might make SDDCs more attractive for agencies choosing to do the bulk of their development on-premises.
How important is security?
While important to everyone, security is more critical for some agencies than others.
The key thing to consider is how you prefer to protect your data. As mentioned before, agencies without a wealth of security knowledge may opt to entrust their data to the public cloud. But there’s also an argument to be made for keeping data secure in an in-house environment, which advocates for an SDDC and greater control. There’s also the option of a hybrid cloud approach, where some applications are hosted on-site and others in the public cloud, which offers a “best of both worlds” scenario.
No Clear Answers
While SDDCs offer many benefits, they may not be right for every agency. Just like in the early days of the cloud, each organization must take its own priorities and unique circumstances into account before making the move.
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