Insight by Dell EMC

Efficiency, transparency, simplicity: The 3-legged stool of data protection

The Intersection of IT Modernization and Cybersecurity

You don’t go to the beach without sunscreen on so likewise you don’t introduce your mission critical data to risk without having a sound data protection strategy.

IT Modernization and Disaster Recovery

We have to support workloads that exist within the cloud, which means we have to support technologies that move less data so de-duplication is key to this.

Over the last several years, the Government Accountability Office has made more than 2,700 recommendations aimed at improving federal systems and networks.

As of May, GAO says about 800 haven’t been implemented.

And then there is the litany of security breaches. From the most dramatic, like the Office of Personnel Management, to the lesser known such as those at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, nearly every agency is struggling to protect its systems, networks and data.

And the bad guys are getting smarter, stealing sensitive but unclassified data and piecing the information together to potentially get to secret or top secret levels.

The Office of Management and Budget’s cyber sprint in 2015 helped shore up some of the most critical information, but more needs to be done.

Brad Montgomery, the director of presales engineering for Dell EMC, said hackers are attacking public and private sector organizations for their data more aggressively than ever. He said some bad actors want to own it, some want to delete it and some want to use ransomware to hold the data hostage.

“You don’t go to the beach without sunscreen on so likewise you don’t introduce your mission critical data to risk without having a sound data protection strategy,” Montgomery said on the Innovation in Government show. “When you look at how the bad guys are attacking our data, often times the first thing they will target is an agency’s backups. They will target the backup applications. They will target the backup storage. And after they have inflicted damage and after they have deleted the backup data or expired the backup data, the customer has no avenue to recover so then they can target the production data and really put the mission at risk.”

One solution to this growing challenge is for agencies to have a data protection strategy, which also should be connected to any IT modernization effort.

Montgomery said the strategy must address three key areas:

  • Efficiency—Get the backups down faster. Send less data across the wire and reduce the use of and the amount of the infrastructure needed to get the backups down.
  • Simplicity—Legacy backup environments typically are complex and costly. He said agencies there are tools to make backing up data easier and quickly, and therefore cheaper.
  • Transparency—Data protection should be easy for the mission areas to use through self-service and automated tools.

All three of these key areas also integrate well with any agency’s IT modernization effort, particularly as they move to the cloud for a host of network and application services.

“We have to support workloads that exist within the cloud, which means we have to support technologies that move less data so de-duplication is key to this,” he said. “Also key to this is our ability to leverage object store so we put the data where it makes the most sense. All of our solutions should be software-defined so they can provide the same level of protection to that you get with an on-premise solution as you do with a cloud-based solution.”

At the same time, Montgomery said the IT modernization push also will help agencies reduce the amount of servers and hardware they will need to manage. That means agencies can finally stop using tape backups, which is part of the reason why data protection and backups are more complex.

“We can use the cloud where it makes sense. We can off load that aged data using those same efficiencies that we can provide in the data center with our de-duplication and compression and move that up to the cloud where the access will be much less,” he said. “That allows us to reduce the amount of infrastructure on premise and use the cloud in a way that is most cost effective.”

Montgomery said reducing complexity by moving to the cloud and simplifying the data backup approach further helps the mission areas to become comfortable with the data protection effort.

“Application owners want a very tight grip of their data. What this means is when it comes to data protection is they don’t want to have to work through a third-party application in order to have access to their data, which is what the traditional backup approach is,” he said. “We want to give the power back to the end user, to the application owner and we want to still be able to meet the service level agreements by giving the data protection and the ability to provide self-service and automation as part of that.”

Montgomery said agencies should understand their environment and their service needs, and take a consultative approach to figuring out what their data protection strategy looks like.

“You don’t want to silo your solutions. You want to have a solution that has the flexibility and the integration across all of these pieces and components so you can provide a holistic approach to data protection,” he said.

 

About Dell EMC

Dell EMC, a part of Dell Technologies, enables federal agencies to modernize, automate and transform their data center using industry-leading converged infrastructure, servers, storage and data protection technologies. This provides a trusted foundation for organizations to transform IT, through the creation of a hybrid cloud, and transform their agencies through the creation of cloud-native applications and big data solutions. Dell EMC Federal offers the industry’s most comprehensive and innovative portfolio from edge to core to cloud.

 

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