Federal IT Pros Worried About Uptime Requirements

More than one-third of field workers gave their IT department a grade of "C" or lower for recent downtime management, according to a MeriTalk report.

federal IT and SLAs

While 80 percent of federal IT professionals cite data center reliability as a top priority for their agency, very few are completely confident in their ability to meet their most critical uptime and failover service-level agreements (SLAs), according to a report from MeriTalk and Symantec.

Federal field workers note that real-time information access is critical–saving them an average of 17 hours per week, or 816 hours per year.

However, in the last month, 70 percent of agencies have experienced downtime of 30 minutes or more, and 90 percent of field workers say the downtime affected their ability to do their job.

According to the report, 69 percent said that downtime of more than 30 minutes is unacceptable and only 23 percent giving their agency’s data centers an "A" for effectively delivering the right information and resources to the right users on a daily basis.

"The government’s focus on minimizing cost, reducing the number of tools, gaining capability, and improving performance has complicated the model of investing to improve efficiency," Rob Potter, vice president of Federal for Symantec, told eWEEK. "The data in this report highlights that Federal IT professionals believe they only have half of the storage, power and qualified personnel they need to enable a truly reliable data center--supported by the fact that 70 percent of agencies have reported downtimes greater than 30 minutes."

More than one-third (36 percent) of field workers gave their IT department a grade of "C" or lower for recent downtime management, and just 29 percent believe their IT department fully understands the impact downtime has on their ability to work.

Potter said the government needs to continue to leverage technologies that deliver consolidated management of both physical and virtual environments to reduce management costs.

"There also needs to be a greater focus on building agility through technologies that automate capabilities like backup, disaster recovery, and security," he said. "The confidence thus far is based on the facts that resources seem in short supply, downtimes are up, and the investment in technology is moving too slow."

Potter also pointed out the cost savings that can be realized as a result of teleworking and mobile technology has increased the demands on the data center to support mobile access.

"As agencies have moved toward deploying these mobile technologies, this has also introduced new threat vectors and a rapidly evolving risk to agency applications and data," he said. "To truly address the security risks associated with leveraging the benefits of mobile technology, there needs to be a focus on both mobile device management and delivering trusted mobile apps."

Federal IT professionals said they only have 56 percent of the data storage, 52 percent of the computational power and 45 percent of the personnel they need to provide a truly reliable and agile data center, and cited greater bandwidth, security and senior leadership support as the top factors in improving data center agility.

"A more reliable network and server infrastructure with true disaster recovery and redundancy protection can help reduce this downtime and increase productivity overall across the agencies," Potter said.