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State and Local Governments Grapple with Business Continuity

Meghan Steele

Along with combating the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local governments must ensure their business continuity plans are built out in an event of a crisis. We have not faced a global pandemic like COVID-19 in more than a century. During this massive disruption, state, local, and county governments are on the frontlines, creating new policies to address the current public health crisis and provide critical services to citizens.  They’re working around the clock to support their workforce and allow their constituents to access services from anywhere to ensure business continuity. 

Before this crisis, most state and local government employees worked with a desktop computer in an office. Working remotely was not the norm for the cities, towns, and local agencies that provide myriad services, from 911 and emergency support to unemployment claims and public records access. Therefore these employees were not equipped with laptops or an infrastructure to work from anywhere other than their office.

Challenges During the Pandemic

Outside of managing the public health crisis, the biggest challenge for state and local agencies is ensuring that their workforce can work remotely and stay safe. The first step for many agencies is to get mobile devices into the hands of their employees. The second step is to ensure that they have a secure data management solution in place to scale and accommodate this new way of working. 

But not every agency has the same data management challenges. For example, state and local courts are closed, meaning that they have to look for a way to move processes online and provide a secure platform to conduct court business. A virtual application platform is their most critical need. State and local unemployment agencies are finding their systems overwhelmed as tens of millions of Americans are filing for benefits for the first time. Their biggest challenge is quickly ramping up data processing and throughput to handle the sheer velocity of applications they now need to process. 

Depending on the agency and its needs, the right data management infrastructure can be on-premises or a hybrid cloud approach. Many agencies need to analyze their current infrastructure and identify the gaps that they find in order to adjust capacity or add overhead. Others are just starting on their journey to the cloud and are trying to figure out the best way to get there.

Addressing Business Continuity Challenges

For many organizations, the first step is to implement virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in the cloud and look at implementing solutions like Azure NetApp® Files and Cloud Volumes ONTAP®. The ability to use the same NetApp ONTAP operating system that they use on-premises is a significant benefit in the face of the crisis. When remote workers log in, they see what they would see if they logged in from their desktop in their office, providing a seamless user experience.

In addition to enabling business continuity in this moment, agencies that implement VDI in the cloud will have a system that they can grow into after the current crisis subsides. For most parts of the United States, business continuity is a major issue outside of the pandemic. From hurricanes in the South to earthquakes and wildfires in the West, and an ever-present terrorist threat across the country, there will always be reasons that state and local governments may need to move employees offsite again, and now they will have the built-in ability to do so.

A sophisticated data management environment enables not only capacity, but agility and flexibility as well. In a crisis, it is important to act quickly, and NetApp offers tools and resources to our customers to remotely manage their environments. When we get back to the next new normal, our customers will have the flexibility to scale up or down, based on their needs. 

Learn more about how NetApp can help you prepare for disruption and improve telework and business continuity.

Meghan Steele

Meghan Steele joined NetApp in 2004 and has spent most of her entire professional career with the company. She has exclusively focused on U.S. Public Sector over the past fourteen years. She currently serves as the Senior Director for the State and Local Government and Education Region where she is responsible for establishing and driving the strategic sales plan for public sector, education and academic healthcare customers. Previously, Meghan has held a variety of operations, marketing, sales and leadership roles across the organization. Most recently she served as the Regional Director for the National Intelligence Region, the top performing region in the U.S. Public Sector geography in 2018. Prior to that Meghan held numerous roles, including leading both the State, Local and Education business for the North and the U.S Army Global Sales Districts. In both roles, Meghan’s teams achieved year over year, double digit growth multiple times during her tenure. In 2015, Meghan was named the NetApp Sales Leader of the Year and in 2018 was selected as the NetApp U.S. Public Sector Regional Director of the Year. In 2016, she was selected to serve on the NetApp Guiding Coalition, a cross-functional, diverse set of employees chosen to inject strategic change and transformation into the organization. Meghan’s primary focus was to build programs to improve employee satisfaction and retention which came from her passion for mentoring. Meghan is also passionate about supporting Women in Technology and recently was chosen to present at the 2018 Grace Hopper Conference. Ms. Steele is a 2003 cum laude graduate of Virginia Tech and a 2010 cum laude graduate of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

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