Data in motion: The hybrid infrastructure currency of the digital age

Cloudera Government Solutions President Rob Carey writes that to simplify operation of a hybrid infrastructure, a “single pane of glass” is needed to manage...

The use of cloud-based solutions across the government began more than a decade ago, when agencies began implementing both private cloud and public cloud alongside established legacy data centers. As we’ve seen in the past months, government agencies continue to place a strong emphasis on the importance of data and how it’s utilized to support decision making for mission-critical operations.

Similarly, emphasis has been placed on the reality of how nearly every government agency operates: how to maximize the benefit of operating a hybrid infrastructure – public cloud, private cloud and legacy on premises.

Today, in order to simplify operation of a hybrid infrastructure, a “single pane of glass” is needed to manage these hybrid data solutions that run mission support processes and applications in the most efficient way possible. Not only do they allow for faster decision making by storing all types of data onto a single enterprise platform, but they create a foundation for powerful, data-driven insights – one of the major value drivers in any information technology strategy.

Also, the recent pandemic created a new hybrid workforce generation that requires a multi-faceted data solutions approach, and one that needs to handle the massive amounts of data created everywhere departments and agencies operate – in clouds, on-prem and at the edge.

A recent study found 85% of 300 federal, state and local IT respondents said the pandemic amplified the importance of migrating to hybrid cloud environments. The study also revealed 67% of respondents said the pandemic pushed their hybrid cloud adoption ahead by at least a year.

Over the past few months, the federal government has emphasized strengthening the data workforce to support mission-critical operations that constantly rely on access to data. With this continued emphasis, agencies will build a better understanding of the indispensable capability to harness data within a hybrid infrastructure.

In addition, the Pentagon’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) Implementation Plan is focused on keeping pace with and utilizing data to drive decision making in modern warfare to combat adversaries.

A hybrid, data-first, strategy can address these areas of emphasis for governments by delivering a “best of both worlds” approach — one that provides the computing power, cost efficiencies and advantages of public cloud, while retaining the flexibility, control and security of a private cloud or on-premise data center.

The evolution to hybrid data architectures has created some opportunities for public sector organizations to gain value from it. Modern architectures such as data lake house, data fabric and data mesh can be brought to bear and manage from a single pane of glass to alleviate the burden on IT teams. These data architectures also support a unified platform for the full data lifecycle with common security and governance.

Achieving a data-driven government

 Every level of government is awash with data – structured and unstructured – and harnessing it is the key to mission efficiency. It is growing in volume at tremendous rates by a range of sources, from the plethora of edge devices to web, social media, video and much more.

Solutions that can process real-time data (wherever it may be) at high volume and high scale while also tracking data provenance and lineage of streaming data become valuable as agencies modernize. Gaining real-time insights and actionable intelligence from streaming data will inevitably lead to previously unrealized insights and greater mission success.

Using data is crucial when working toward positive agency outcomes in sectors like healthcare, education, military, agriculture, climate, transportation and more. There are many cases where data drives the mission, including elements of the pandemic response, supply chain management, cybersecurity and national defense. With a strong understanding of the most effective data practices, agencies can significantly enhance operational efficiencies.

Unlocking the full potential of data using hybrid infrastructure

Tools to ingest and route needed data, no matter the source, into a platform where it can be used to its full potential exist today. This will support real-time scenarios and enable rich streaming analytics that can help agencies make faster, more informed decisions. But learning how to collect and analyze the data in one secure location is the primary step.

Successfully managing hybrid cloud provides multiple benefits that can help agencies by bolstering discovery, movement and analytics processes. Hybrid cloud supports teams as they continue to harness copious amounts of data with the objective of improving mission outcomes.

This also reduces silos and fragmentation by bringing all data onto a single, secure and governed platform. The goal of the platform is to not only give a freedom of choice when it comes to what cloud platform to use, but also reduce operating costs, increase productivity, improve cybersecurity capabilities, generate transparency and trust, and deliver smarter and faster data-driven decisions.

The success of agency missions will be dependent on successful implementation of a hybrid data solution, as well as whether or not agencies are fully using data to support mission decisions. Data is driving nearly everything and has become the true currency of the digital age. Data drives agency action plans, like the Federal Data Strategy and the State Department’s Enterprise Data Strategy.

Leveraging data will propel agencies forward by allowing teams to tackle the toughest challenges across the public sector space. As hybrid cloud provides safer data processes, it is hard to imagine how and why an agency wouldn’t use a hybrid solution to unlock the full potential of data.

Rob Carey is president of Cloudera Government Solutions.

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