DOJ Considers Reorganizing Its Storage

DOJ takes on the daunting task of moving its antiquated, piecemeal storage system into a more efficient one-in cost and performance-for 2,000 office locations.

The U.S. Department of Justice has published a Request for Information as the first step in what will eventually become a multiyear initiative to update and upgrade its data centers and storage apparatus.

The initiative, first reported by ComputerWorlds Sharon Fisher on Aug. 11, asks storage vendors for their ideas on a new system that would link its more than 2,000 offices and several data centers into a single, manageable enterprise storage architecture.

The DOJs current system, like many other enterprise storage systems, has been built in a piecemeal manner over several decades and is seriously outmoded, according to an IT analyst who requested anonymity.

"The RFI is intended to identify the state of technology and technology management to help DOJ devise a storage architecture as part of its enterprise architecture," DOJ spokesperson Gina Talamona told eWEEK.

"At this time, DOJ has not determined the implementation approach to deploy that architecture. We intend to use industry feedback to allow us to understand the architectural options for storage and their impact to other decisions with respect to the overall infrastructure computing architecture."

The RFI is intended, Talamona said, to help the department understand:

  • typical practices and capabilities associated with implementing enterprise storage architecture in commercial and government organizations;
  • storage technologies, currently available or emerging, suitable for incorporation in an enterprise architecture; and
  • issues and factors associated with implementing and managing enterprise storage.

"The objective of this initiative is to provide a common set of storage solutions that can be leveraged by all components, while driving down cost for products based on the size of the department," the RFI said.

The DOJ primarily wants to use off-the-shelf storage products, the RFI said. The agency also is willing to continue to utilize existing infrastructure as much as possible in moving to the new model.

One analyst who watches the federal government IT sector closely said hes a little skeptical about the plan, given that similar federal initiatives in the past have crashed and burned due to the sheer weight and breadth of their needs.

"Its good that the DOJ wants to bring their system into the 20th—let alone the 21st—century," said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, in Hayward, Calif. "But I remember only a few years ago when the federal government came out and said it wanted to enable all of its databases to talk to each other—across all departments and divisions. Nice idea, but ...

"They spent about a quarter of a billion dollars trying to get the thing off the ground and eventually threw up their hands in frustration, because it was never going to work."

It makes perfect, sense, King said, for the DOJ storage system to be revamped and coordinated into a centralized architecture.

"It would be a lot more cost- and labor-efficient to have common storage that could be managed centrally. Theyll need centralized tools, and so theyre going to need a large vendor to take the lead on this. Smaller vendors who dont have the wide range of tools and hardware wont work in this instance," King said.

A project like this could easily take three to five years to get moving, King said.

"If it goes beyond five years, then it will get bogged down and never work," he said.


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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...