Hardware's fortunes brighten, architect says

Hardware's fortunes have turned, contends a Red Hat Inc. systems architect.

The IT industry saw a slowdown in hardware sales in recent years, spurred by the economic downturn and users' increased reliance on client-server architectures, but now "big iron is back," Red Hat's Peter W. Graner said, pointing to the growing use of "small servers racked together and clustered."

Graner, an enterprise architect for Red Hat's federal office in Vienna, Va., spoke today at a vendor showcase at Washington's Ronald Reagan Building.

The showcase and conference, sponsored by Veritas Software Corp. of Mountain View, Calif., and DLT Solutions Inc. of Herndon, Va., drew several hundred network and database administrators looking to learn about storage area networks, virtualization techniques, modular storage, backup appliances and resource provisioning. They came from federal government as well as the private sector.

Graner, who said he has been approached by a number of federal agencies about enterprise architecture plans, advises them on best practices in networking and storage. Red Hat's hardware partners are Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. He said Sun and Microsoft Corp. are also advising multiple agencies about non-Linux operating systems.

The architecture process, Graner said, has three steps:

  • Understanding an agency's requirements, such as cutting costs or improving systems performance

  • Applying good methodologies and calling in third-party experts when necessary

  • Drawing up a logical picture with diagrams of the target architecture.

  • "The government is very cost-conscious," he said, "and all the architecture plans are very custom."

    Susan M. Menke writes for Government Computer News.

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