Federal agencies seeking to deal with huge amounts of information have begun embracing the software-defined data center, a technology tool that has come into vogue for managing and storing data. The SDDC is an offshoot of IT virtualization that uses a software-defined architecture.

Agencies have been striving to save money and improve the management and storage of data in response to government mandates.

Agencies must “develop and report on data center strategies to consolidate inefficient infrastructure, optimize existing facilities, improve security posture, achieve cost savings, and transition to more efficient infrastructure, such as cloud services and inter-agency shared services,” states a federal CIO directive issued last summer.

The directive launched the Data Center Optimization Initiative to supersede and strengthen the federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative of 2010.

Federal IT Managers’ Feedback

With pressure from directives adding to the consistent requirements of tight budgets, federal agencies increasingly have turned to SDDCs, according to a survey of federal IT professionals released last month by Dell-EMC, which offers a variety of software solutions related to data management, including SDDC capabilities.

The survey participants — 100 federal IT managers — were polled by the Penn Schoen Berland research firm last spring, as a component of a larger Dell EMC global survey of IT trends.

Almost two-thirds of survey respondents said that their organizations had deployed software-defined solutions. Also, 85 percent of respondents reported progress in adopting the use of SDDCs.

Among other survey findings:

  • Fifty-six percent of federal employees reported being more than halfway done adopting an SDDC.
  • Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they were considering SDDCs to achieve greater agility and flexibility; 53 percent identified achieving additional efficiencies as an important factor in their decision making.
  • Forty-one percent were most interested in simplifying the management process, while 38 percent trained their sights primarily on reducing costs.

An important but perhaps subtle element for potential government adopters — as well as for commercial providers focused on marketing data center capabilities — is the agency attitude toward software-defined architecture. Federal IT managers regard several types of IT solutions as “software defined” resources, the survey found.

Of those solutions cloud technology was rated highest and was mentioned in 75 percent of survey responses. Other software-defined solutions included networking (52 percent), storage (52 percent), servers (48 percent) and converged infrastructure (40 percent).

Urgently Seeking New Solutions

For purposes of the survey — and potentially the market — “the establishment of SDDCs — defined here as a data center in which hardware components are virtualized, delivered as a service, and managed by software — was considered by survey respondents to be far more crucial to modernization than any other efforts,” Dell-EMC noted.

Much of the federal agency interest in SDDCs “has to do with the current state of IT in government,”…