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.
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.
Richard Breakiron is Commvault’s Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives, Americas Public Sector focused on the Federal community. He gained his extensive experience in developing, deploying and operating critical network IT and large data management systems while serving as an officer the Army, senior government civilian with the Army and DISA and U.S. security agencies.
A leader on many major IT program initiatives throughout his career, Richard oversaw the largest Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) effort comprising over $3 billion in IT systems to support a $16 billion transformation of Army infrastructure. He further led the effort to realign the DoD’s Top-Level Architecture, by building a partnership with the DoD CIO and AFSPACECOM creating the Joint Regional Security Stack (JRSS) program and became the program’s Executive Director at DISA. While at the Pentagon with HQDA CIO/G-6, he served in leadership roles for strategic initiatives managing an Army-wide IT reform and network modernization effort.
Richard works alongside his SLED Strategic Initiatives counterpart, Dave DeVries, where they both bring their close to 80 years of collective experience and insights from the DoD and Federal agencies to the states and local government as well as higher education. Since serving in government, Mr. Breakiron has held positions as Executive VP, Public sector, root9B, an advanced Cyber security company; Senior Director, Cyber solutions for ViON Corporation; and initiated the standup of Ascolta, LLC, a data analytics subsidiary of ViON, as their General Manager and served on the board of Ascolta.
Richard and his wife are fortunate to enjoy a great rural life in Aiken, SC. When not doing major do-it-yourself home projects or managing their 6-acre homesite from their John Deere tractor, they relax by playing tennis, the occasional Top Golf, and are learning sailing and scuba to enjoy their regular travel to SC beaches with their three ‘launched’ children.
David DeVries leads Strategic Initiatives for State, Local Government and Higher Education Industries, in close concert with Public Sector strategic initiatives for US Federal Agencies. A former Department of Defense Deputy CIO, Office of Personnel Management CIO, and Director of the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and State CIO for the State of Michigan, Dave has decades of experience leading and driving strategic innovation and outcomes in complex environments. A retired military officer with deep information technology and executive management experience in commercial, industry and government service, he’s led many organizations through major change while ensuring mission-critical operations. Dave’s leadership success is well-renowned with his ability to rapidly build high-performing, close-knit, military, civilian, and contractor teams.
His unique experience across such a vast array of mammoth challenges in the DoD and the State of Michigan make him exceptionally qualified to share strategies and best practices to public sector organizations in need of innovative enterprise-level data management solutions.
Prior to joining Commvault, Mr. David DeVries formed Turnbuckle Soundings, LLC, a management consultancy providing strategic advisory services to C-Suites, Boards of Directors and senior Federal and State officials on operational challenges related to digital transformation, business aligned security, and enterprise risk management.
Mr. DeVries has more than 35 years of leadership experience in the defense and public sectors ranging from small to very large institutions. Prior to founding Turnbuckle Soundings, Mr. DeVries served the State of Michigan as the Director, Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and the State of Michigan Chief Information Officer (CIO) where he led a 2,900-employee agency with an operating budget exceeding $1.4B. Mr. DeVries ensured reliable and efficient delivery of comprehensive, state-wide services for information technology, communications, management of state facilities, finance, procurement, fleet management, and retirement services to more than 20 State agencies, serving over 47,000 state of Michigan employees and 9.4M Michigan citizens.
Before serving the State of Michigan, Mr. DeVries’s government career in the Federal Senior Executive Service (SES) included a year at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), where he was appointed to lead information technology recovery efforts following the largest data breach in US Government history. At OPM, Mr. DeVries was the CIO and Principal Advisor to the OPM Director on all issues related to cybersecurity policy and execution of IT services in support of all US Government business capabilities supporting current and retired Federal employees, and contractors conducting business with the government.
Prior to his OPM appointment, Mr. DeVries spent eight years at the Department of Defense (DoD), where he culminated his time there as the Principle Deputy DoD CIO, and Acting DoD CIO when called upon, leading the overall daily operation of providing strategic and operational information technology and cybersecurity advice as a principle staff member to the Secretary of Defense.
Prior to his distinguished career in the Federal SES and as a State of Michigan appointee, Mr. DeVries served in leadership and staff positions in the United States Army, for 29 years in various assignments around the globe. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and hold a Bachelor Degree in Science and Engineering; and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from University of Washington, as well as a Master of National Strategy from the US Army War College. He is also a fellow with the Ponemon Institute.
In his free time, he enjoys time with his family, woodworking, and sailing – even though he’s finding out that the sailing season in Michigan is considerably shorter than on the Cheasapeake. He is also an active bicyclist – completing several century rides each year for fun.
Kirk is CTO for Americas and leads a team of Deputy CTOs in the Office of Technology and Strategy. He is responsible for developing strategies, solution architectures and partner initiatives for customers across the Americas. His activities result in secure and scalable Data Services for hybrid cloud or traditional IT environments. His current research explores applied use cases for Machine Learning and AI for data management systems. He has deep technical knowledge of Public Sector Infrastructures especially within the DoD and the Intelligence communities. Prior to his role as America’s CTO, Kirk was a Technical Director in NetApp product operations division leading E series solutions and then NetApp flash portfolio with primary focus on Flash Accel.
Kirk’s professional career began at the Penn State Applied Research Laboratory where he developed a DSP based Neural Network acoustic signal processing system for predicting laser materials processing fabrication for the Navy. He then joined IBM Federal Systems Division as a radar test engineer in the early 90s and rejoined IBM in 2004 where he became an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect as well as an Open Group Master Certified IT Architect. He has also held key engineering positions at the Naval Research Laboratory, SGI and Lockheed Martin on major technology development programs. During that time his notable works included a multi-sensor radar tracker and simulator, supported the DARPA fast packet switching program which started the wide-area ATM network industry, and a transactional memory high performance super computer architecture for DARPA. He also brings deep historical and domain experience on many of the prototypes that were the catalyst for programs like the Intelligence Communities "IC Global Grid" and “GIG-BE”.
Kirk holds BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. He’s instructed graduate level microprocessor design and HPC courses as an adjunct faculty member at the George Washington University Electrical and Computer Engineering department.
Jason Miller is an executive editor and reporter with Federal News Radio. As executive editor, Jason helps direct the news coverage of the station and works with reporters to ensure a broad range of coverage of federal technology, procurement, finance and human resource news.As a reporter, Jason focuses mainly on technology and procurement issues, including cybersecurity, e-government and acquisition policies and programs.