FedInsights by Rubrik

Getting your data house in order starts with knowing what you own

Data Modernization

Once we understand whether it’s structured or unstructured, then we can begin to define what that target environment looks like, the sizing and tiering of that storage whether it’s in the cloud or just consolidating a data center. This is the first step in the process to get out of the data center business and really get into the data business. The data is the mission for them.

Data as a Strategic Asset

Now that they have the confidence that the data is protected, it’s consistent across all their applications and across their organization and managed in same fashion in the cloud, now they are asking how they can run analytics and get better information out of that data. So the stewardship, the governance and the security is foundational before they can move it over [to the cloud].

Data is and will continue to be the lifeblood of federal agencies.

But as agencies move to the cloud and continue to live in a hybrid world, the complexity of networks and systems will only increase in the short term.

This is why federal data management efforts are critical to reduce complexity and cost, and increase value.

Agencies are getting plenty of help. From the Federal Data Strategy roadmap to the Evidence-based policymaking Act to the growth of chief data officers across the government, agencies are slowly getting their “data house” in order. They are digging into their data to understand what is accurate and what isn’t. But this isn’t an easy process, to say the least.

The Federal Data Strategy action plans says agencies are making progress. The most recent report says that as of Sept. 30, eight agencies have put a data strategy or road map in place; five agencies have developed a plan for capital planning for enterprise data assets and infrastructure; and five agencies have adopted a master data management program.

Additionally, 20 agencies have conducted and documented the outcome of their initial data maturity assessment.

There is still a lot of work that still needs to be done including enterprise data governance, access, data for decision making and to improve the public use of data.

Jeffrey Phelan, the chief technology officer for public sector at Rubrik, said while it’s clear every agency is at a different point in corralling their data, too often they are in “deer in the headlights” mode.

“As they look at modernization, they have to look not just at their technology stack, but their business processes, operational processes, how they are acquiring technology, call centers and how they are staffing it and training them so it’s fairly comprehensive,” Phelan said on the Innovation in Government show sponsored by Carahsoft. “It can be very overwhelming [for agencies].”

Phelan said agencies must get ahold of the huge amount of data they control—both structured and unstructured—and where it resides as part of their data management and modernization initiative.

“We are finding that the information about their data, just the inventory of where it is and what those systems are, many times are not accurate,” he said. “I’ve literally had to review 1 million line spreadsheets with people, which is mind numbing. When you starting going through the data with application owners and data owners, they quickly say, ‘I don’t think that’s right.’ It’s just because it’s been copied, pasted, transferred, updated, shared and all the normal reasons, just the reality of how these processes have been handled in the past in a manual fashion.”

One way to solve this is develop a baseline by indexing the data and where it lives. Phelan said that one step makes a big difference to move up the maturity of the data management model.

Adding fidelity to the data becomes even more important as agencies move applications to the cloud. Phelan said by knowing what data you have and where it lives, gives more confidence to the cybersecurity office.

“Once we understand whether it’s structured or unstructured, then we can begin to define what that target environment looks like, the sizing and tiering of that storage whether it’s in the cloud or just consolidating a data center,” he said. “This is the first step in the process to get out of the data center business and really get into the data business. The data is the mission for them.”

Another key factor in getting the data ready for the cloud is to digitize, index and meta data tag the information. This will let users run analytics in real time once the data is in the cloud.

“We try to get agencies to think about not being concerned where the data is, where it’s going to go or even where it’s moving, but they have a consistent view of that data everywhere,” he said. “Historically, organizations in order to manage their data, they write all of these independent jobs so I have to write 25 jobs for a specific application to make sure I’m taking care of how many times it’s replicated, where it’s saved, how it’s saved. It’s very granular. We are using people to write all of these steps. When you talk about artificial intelligence and machine learning, we have this declarative framework to automate that whole workflow so they don’t have to think about that anymore.”

Phelan said Rubrik has a customer that used to write 1,200 different incremental jobs to manage the data. Now by applying automation and AI/ML tools, the number of jobs is down to 45.

“Now that they have the confidence that the data is protected, it’s consistent across all their applications and across their organization and managed in same fashion in the cloud, now they are asking how they can run analytics and get better information out of that data,” he said. “So the stewardship, the governance and the security is foundational before they can move it over [to the cloud].”

 

About Rubrik

Rubrik provides One platform for instant recovery, search, development and cloud.

Federal agencies modernize and automate backup and recovery, while easily extending data management to the cloud and protecting data assets from compromise. We’ll help you implement a Cloud Smart approach to data management that eliminates legacy complexity, so you can focus on the mission instead.

Featured speakers

  • Jeffrey Phelan

    Chief Technology Officer, Public Sector, Rubrik

  • Jason Miller

    Executive Editor, Federal News Network