Insight by Commvault and NetApp

Increasing the value of data starts by understanding not all data is created equal

Data is one of those words or maybe it’s a concept that is talked about in every part of the public sector.

But one thing is clear, data is the gas that runs the government. And with the rise of connected devices and 5G, the volume, velocity and variety of data only will increase.

And if you consider that by some estimates 90% of all federal data is considered dark data, then getting a handle on it becomes even more important today.

Dark data is unstructured or even unknown data that comes from a variety of sources whether sensors in the field or operational technology like heating and cooling systems, and is not used but could provide value to the organization to make decisions.

This dark data poses risks to organizations that don’t get a handle on it, particularly around storage from cost and management perspectives and from a cybersecurity standpoint.

If you don’t know what data you have, how can you protect it, manage it and find value in it?

This question and others like it will become more complex as agencies move more applications and data to the cloud and add new artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to the mix.

Kirk Kern, the chief technology officer at NetApp Americas, said for many agencies, and organizations more broadly, the two metrics around data that matter most are durability and availability.

The availability metric is self-explanatory and most agencies understand that. But the durability metric is becoming more important.

He said it’s the durability metric, however, where agencies need the most help because it starts with understanding where an organization’s data lives, what it includes and how much it costs to maintain it.

Kern said if organizations understand specific attributes of their data, then data protection, first and foremost, becomes less complex.

“In the event that data is not available, you need a mechanism to restore that data from its previously known good state and then you can kick off processing again,” he said on the discussion, Generating more value from your data sponsored by Commvault and NetApp.

Richard Breakiron, the senior director for strategic initiatives for public sector at Commvault, said one of the best ways agencies can ensure they can continue with mission critical operations in the face of a potential or real cyber attack is to be able to bring back up systems quickly and easily.

“When I was in the Defense Department, we would often remind people that not all data is created equal. Nuclear command and control took a little higher precedence than maybe some of the administrative time keeping aspects that we may have to do,” Breakiron said.

One new complication, but also one possible solution, around data protection and management that agencies are facing is the move to the cloud.

Breakiron said agencies need to figure out as part of their data protection strategy which data makes sense to reside in the cloud and which doesn’t.

“It’s incumbent upon your organization’s leadership to really take ownership of their business processes, the value of the data and where the data is,” he said. “We now live in a world that has been digitized, meaning you can now reach data from anywhere.”

NetApp’s Kern said the cost of data storage is another factor in how agencies can protect and manage the information. He said that means agencies need to update business processes so as not to increase costs for storing data.

David DeVries, the senior director for strategic initiatives for state, local and education sector for Commvault, said the recent coronavirus pandemic is demonstrating these challenges in many ways because data sharing is more important than ever and happening in real time. And when you add new tools to analyze the data, the value and need for protection only increases.

“With artificial intelligence and machine learning, it’s got to be talked about and shared, and those decisions about the use of those two has to be understood by leadership at the top,” DeVries said. “If they gain some new appreciation with what the data can tell them, they will drive more and more uses from those tools.”

Kern added that to fully take advantage of tools that use AI or ML, agencies need to ensure their data management and governance are in place.

“We find every agency has vast amounts of data and they want to generate new or better information from it. What we find is sometimes the policy gets involved where it’s controlled by security restrictions in how it’s used,” he said. “But the government is opening up access to data and it’s a growing trend to make secure access and legal data use a good investment.”

Defining Data Protection

It’s incumbent upon your organization’s leadership to really take ownership of their business processes, the value of the data and where the data is. We now live in a world that has been digitized, meaning you can now reach data from anywhere.

Moving to the Hybrid Cloud Environment

With artificial intelligence and machine learning, it’s got to be talked about and shared, and those decisions about the use of those two has to be understood by leadership at the top. If they gain some new appreciation with what the data can tell them, they will drive more and more uses from those tools.

The Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Integration

In the event that data is not available, you need a mechanism to restore that data from its previously known good state and then you can kick off processing again.

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