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Federal Government Data Center Transformation

The exponential growth of data hasn’t been limited to private enterprise. In an attempt to meet the growing need to store, process, and analyze ever-increasing volumes of data, federal government data centers have proliferated. But this expansion resulted in numerous inefficiencies and resource waste. In recent years, the federal government has accelerated its transition to cloud data centers, seeking to improve performance, reduce redundancies, lower costs, and trim energy consumption. In this article, we’ll examine why this migration is needed, the initiatives and legislation driving the change, and how modern cloud-based solutions are helping the federal government achieve its goals.

Why Federal Data Center Transformation Is Needed

Federal agencies have reported mixed progress toward the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) four federal data center optimization targets to increase virtualization and data center availability, implement advanced energy metering, and reduce underutilized servers. According to the most recent report in 2018, the federal government was operating 5,918 data centers. Although recent legislation and government initiatives have spurred federal agencies to adopt a cloud-first data stance, the pivot away from traditional data centers to the public cloud is far from complete. 

Federal Data Center Orders and Programs to Drive Change

A collection of legislation, government initiatives, and executive orders has been a catalyst for change, impacting how federal government data centers operate. Here are four key drivers responsible for modernizing the way the federal government stores, processes, and analyzes data. 

Cloud Smart

A modern refresh of the federal government’s long-standing Cloud First Policy, Cloud Smart provides comprehensive policy guidance surrounding security, procurement, and necessary workforce skills to foster cloud adoption and implementation. Its goal is to spur agencies to consider how to extend their current resources to maximize value, enhance their security posture, and implement best practices for purchasing. Cloud Smart emphasizes the importance of using modern cloud computing technologies such as migrating existing legacy federal government data centers to the cloud to gain new capabilities and expand or improve on existing ones.

The Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI)

A key initiative from the OMB, the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) seeks to improve data center optimization in the federal government by setting priorities for data center consolidation and closures, and efficiency improvement, as well as updating key targets, metrics, and other requirements. The end goal of DCOI is the delivery of higher-quality service to the public at a reduced cost to taxpayers.

The Energy Act of 2020 and Executive Order (EO) 13834

This legislation and executive order outline energy efficiency and environmental performance requirements and best practices for federal data center owners and operators. Both seek to reduce waste, cut costs, and improve the resiliency of federal infrastructure and operations.

How Modern Cloud Solutions Help Government Agencies Meet Federal Data Center Initiatives 

Modern cloud data solutions are ideally suited to help federal agencies meet or exceed initiatives, legislation, and statutory requirements guiding the modernization of the federal government’s technology infrastructure. Cloud data platforms offer a host of benefits that traditional on-premises systems struggle to match. Here are just a few of their advantages:

Improved data security

The federal government collects and stores massive amounts of sensitive data. Protecting that data is a strategic priority. Modern solutions offer comprehensive protection such as two-way data encryption, multi-factor authentication, role-based access control, IP address whitelisting, and federated authentication. Private network connections enable agencies to transmit their data securely back and forth between their virtual private network and cloud provider without having to access the internet. In addition, cloud data solutions offer best-in-class security validations such as SOC1 Type 2, SOC2 Type 2, and PCI DSS compliance with support for HIPAA compliance. Providers such as Snowflake are also FedRAMP Authorized (Moderate).

Reduced environmental impact with increased energy efficiency

As a rule, cloud computing and storage solutions are more energy-efficient than traditional federal government data centers. Recent data from Accenture found that migrations to the public cloud could reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tons per year. That’s equivalent to the total annual emissions of 22 million cars. Modern cloud data solutions help federal agencies reduce their environmental impact through increased energy efficiency.

Greater system resiliency

Cloud data architecture separates the compute, storage, and service layers, resulting in improved system resiliency and data consistency. Cloud storage service architecture consists of multiple layers, each independent from the others and distributed across multiple data centers. These features provide stronger failure resiliency than traditional data centers.

Improved user experience

Resource concurrency and contention issues negatively impact the user experience. Whether users are internal staff, partner agencies, or citizens accessing agency information or services, cloud computing offers virtually instant, near-infinite elasticity, allowing computing power to automatically scale, providing an uninterrupted user experience free from site slowdowns and disruptions. 

Eliminate unused storage capacity

Snowflake offers per-second pricing with rapidly scalable, on-demand compute power and data storage. Pay-as-you-go pricing ensures federal agencies aren’t investing in computing or storage capacity they’re not actively using. 

Snowflake Data Solutions for Government

As the federal government continues to migrate more of its digital infrastructure to the cloud, the shift of federal government data centers is a key component of this strategy. Snowflake’s solution helps government agencies align with federal modernization initiatives. With the Snowflake Data Cloud, agencies can modernize legacy technology by transforming their data warehousing, data lakes, and data application development infrastructure. Additionally, they can build data exchanges to easily and securely share governed data. Snowflake breaks down information silos with seamless, secure data sharing capabilities to drive collaboration, and delivers governed, simple, and near real-time data access with a single platform. 

Snowflake is FedRAMP Authorized (Moderate) on AWS Commercial and Azure Government regions. Make better decisions quicker by enabling comprehensive views of intra- and cross-organizational data, so users can quickly and easily use real-time insights to make data-driven decisions. 

Transform citizen experiences, delivering innovative, intuitive, and efficient services for citizens based on the insights from comprehensive, secure, and reliable data. Advance the use of data as a strategic asset to deliver on mission outcomes, serve citizens, maximize resource utilization with agility, and ensure security and compliance. 

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