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The changing landscape of government storage needs

Mark Rochlin

Government computing has undergone rapid change in recent years. Within the data center, multiple drivers are pushing cloud computing to the forefront, including technology policies such as “Cloud First” and general austerity mandates aimed at eliminating large infrastructure or asset ownership and management.

Defense and military applications are also changing, as the applications that a warfighter utilizes at the tactical edge are becoming increasingly compute-intensive to enhance and extend combat cognition, efficiency and effectiveness.

Solid state drives (SSDs) based on flash media have emerged as ideal solutions to address these issues and market dynamics, and there are a number of distinct characteristics to SSDs that make them a critical element in government compute storage -- specifically the blend of performance, system footprint reduction and data-at-rest security utilizing standards-based encryption.

One particular environment in which SSDs offer a significant advantage is the tactical edge in a defense or military setting. The warfighter is not just sending or receiving the occasional e-mail, or conducting impromptu Internet searches. Instead, warfighters at the edge are running applications performing advanced imagery analysis, motion imagery processing, facial recognition and voice recognition and translation, mission planning, biometrics and a host of location-based services. SSDs are ideal for such an extreme and resource-constrained environment. They provide durability and resilience while delivering more than enough performance for the warfighters’ applications, not otherwise possible with other media options.

In tactical-edge environments, space, weight, power and cooling (or SWaP-C) are at a premium. SSDs permit systems architects to shrink the overall footprint of a solution, minimizing SWaP-C, and driving down overall costs. This reduction in overall system footprint, while delivering vastly improved performance, durability and resiliency enables highly ruggedized, very powerful, dense computing solutions. SSDs are at the core of these new dense tactical computing systems that empower true operations on the move, and enhance warfighter efficiency, effectiveness and safety.

Taking SWaP-C reduction to a new level for tactical-edge deployments are the mSATA and Micro SAS interfaces for SSD’s. mSATA is a JEDEC-compliant SSD format that leverages the widely used SATA standard. SATA continues to be used across a wide range of applications and enjoys support in the majority of off-the-shelf system boards. SATA SSDs are a logical drop-in replacement for conventional storage in OEM and industrial system designs with size and/or power constraints.

Micro SAS SSDs are ideal for high-performance, mission-critical applications where SWaP-C is at a premium, yet there is a demand for greater data protection and reliability that SATA-based SSDs are unable to provide. Micro SAS SSDs are uniquely designed for blade servers, caching and other high-density computing environments with less power and cooling resources, and extreme physical space constraints.

The tactical edge is filled with data storage security challenges and uncertainties, so in this environment, it is imperative to utilize encrypted storage. Fortunately, the same hardware encryption used to secure storage in the data center can be applied to keeping information secure in the field.

As government and military storage requirements continue to evolve, we’re seeing the emergence of mSATA and Micros SAS stepping up to the challenge. Furthermore, SSDs with embedded encryption add a high degree of data security to SSD durability and performance characteristics needed throughout data center and tactical edge deployments.  

Mark Rochlin is vice president, government and defense, at HGST. He can be reached at:

[email protected]



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