Layered Data Protection Strategy: Keeping our Military Health Information Secure

Barry Morris

Barry Morris

Vice President, Dell EMC Federal Division
Barry Morris, Vice President of Dell EMC’s Federal Division, is responsible for general division management, providing leadership and vision to the Federal team, government contractors and partners, and Federal systems integrators. In this role, he is dedicated to helping agencies redefine IT in a more agile, trusted, and cost-efficient way. Morris brings 30 years of experience driving sales to the Federal government, and expanding coverage into the state and local government, education, and medical markets.

As military healthcare organizations increase their use of technology to improve care delivery, they also must keep patient information highly available, protected, and secure.

The challenge is that healthcare data is high value for criminals, and needs to be secured against a growing wave of destructive, malicious attacks from this new breed of cybercriminals who target this data.

In a recent Healthcare IT News article, Dave Dimond, chief technology officer for Dell EMC’s global health business, shared insight on the best way to approach data protection, saying, “Organizations need to consider three-layered protection. You need to assume the threat is in the system and has been evolving.”

“Security and business resilience wasn’t well defined or well-funded about five years ago,” Dimond said in a recent MeriTalk article. “When the health care industry first began to adopt electronic health records (EHRs), the focus was on disaster recovery. Now, executive leadership is beginning to look more toward operation without interruption.”

Military healthcare organizations need top security for their patient data – such as three-layered protection – to ensure secure operational readiness and resiliency.

Three-Layered Protection with Dell EMC

 As military health IT teams modernize their infrastructure to work toward all of their goals – from EHR modernization, to improving population health, to supporting the warfighter in the field – they must ensure their vital patient data is protected. In a recent white paper, we outline a multilayer approach to secure healthcare’s most vital patient data.

One of the key aspects of this layered data protection strategy is a data vault, protected by an “air gap” – a space between the main system and the backup system that opens to synchronize the data and closes immediately, providing an isolated environment.

The layered data protection strategy is comprised of three layers:

  • Traditional Data Protection Best Practices – Deploy a layered data protection approach for more business critical systems but always include a point-in-time, off array, independent backup with DR Replication
  • Additional Hardening and Protection Features – DPS product specific hardening guides; encryption in-flight and/or at rest; retention lock with separate security officer credentials
  • Advanced Protection Services – Isolated Recovery Solution; Dell EMC service offerings; use of evolving security analytics – such as RSA Security Analytics

The speed of change in devices and in the technology environment are very different than they were five years ago, Roberta Katz, director of Dell EMC’s Global Solutions, Healthcare-Life Sciences says. Protecting data now requires “a whole portfolio of protection strategies.”

Learn More:

DCOI Takes Over Data Center Consolidation Efforts

Barry Morris

Barry Morris

Vice President, Dell EMC Federal Division
Barry Morris, Vice President of Dell EMC’s Federal Division, is responsible for general division management, providing leadership and vision to the Federal team, government contractors and partners, and Federal systems integrators. In this role, he is dedicated to helping agencies redefine IT in a more agile, trusted, and cost-efficient way. Morris brings 30 years of experience driving sales to the Federal government, and expanding coverage into the state and local government, education, and medical markets.

The new Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) aims to reverse continued data center sprawl and at the same time, modernize – a better approach than the original FDCCI.

There has been consolidation progress. A recent blog post by Federal CIO Tony Scott, shares that FDCCI has helped the Federal government close more than 1,900 data centers, reducing the real estate footprint of Federal data centers by more than 1.2 million square feet, and resulting in nearly $1 billion in savings.

But, we’re not there yet. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the number of Federal data centers grew to 11,700 by November 2015 – up from more than 9,000 in 2014, 2,100 in 2011, and 1,100 in 2009 – as we were trying to reduce.

DCOI takes a more holistic approach, with a development freeze on current and new data centers, continued consolidation strategies, cloud investment under Cloud First, and an expanded shared services initiative. And, DCOI lays out specific optimization goals around power efficiency, automated infrastructure management, and server and facility utilization.

DCOI shows we’ve learned from our success and failures over the past few years, and agencies have high hopes for this initiative. According to a recent article, “The DCOI could be the best thing to happen to Federal cloud adoption in a while.”

Is Your Agency Prepared? 

The DCOI will focus on three primary areas within agencies’ data center management strategies:

  • Optimization: Agencies will be required to achieve five optimization targets that will improve the efficiency of Federal data centers – energy metering, power usage effectiveness, virtualization, server utilization and automated monitoring, and facility utilization
  • Cost Savings and Avoidance: By the end of fiscal year 2018, agencies must reduce Government-wide annual costs attributable to physical data centers by at least 25%
  • Closed Data Centers: Agencies must close at least 25% of tiered data centers, and 60% of non-tiered data centers, government-wide by the end of 2018

As noted by Federal CIO Tony Scott, “The important work agencies are undertaking as part of the DCOI will help move the Federal government toward an IT portfolio that is more efficient, more effective, more secure, and better able to deliver world-class services to the American people.”

To meet DCOI goals, agencies need modern data centers. At EMC, we believe this means the data center is built on a series of components:  flash, cloud-enabled, scale-out, and software-defined technologies, to help achieve efficiency and utilization goals, power shared services, and automate & simplify. Learn more in my recent blog post:  Technology Foundation for the Modern Data Center.

Data-Driven Cybersecurity Leveraging Intelligent Data Storage

Audie Hittle

Audie Hittle

CTO Federal and Cybersecurity, Emerging Technologies Division, Dell EMC

Cybersecurity has moved front and center in technology, business, academic, and government communities. Inadequate threat protection has the potential of bringing operations to a halt, and cyber investments consume increasing portions of available IT and operating budgets.

The U.S. Federal government’s cyber focus is growing. In fact, the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget invests $19 billion in overall Federal resources for cybersecurity to support a broad-based cybersecurity strategy for securing the Government. And, the Department of Defense has requested a 16 percent year over year increase in their cyber budget to help the U.S. Cyber Command mature in operational readiness. As a result, operational demand for innovative and efficient solutions is growing rapidly and ranks as a top priority.

Intelligent Data Storage (IDS) plays an important role, as I discussed in a recent article. IDS contributes to cyber resiliency – which is the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions, and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions.

And, as agencies wrestle with cyber big data, “data lakes” – a new data storage paradigm – provide the infrastructure to manage the volume of cyber data and reduce information silos. A data lake offers scale out storage for data consolidation (structured and unstructured data), and enables in-place big data analytics.

MeriTalk, the Government IT Network, validated the importance of these proactive, data-driven capabilities, surveying more than 300 Federal, state and local cybersecurity professionals in March of 2015. Their research shows that 86% of Federal cyber leaders believe big data analytics would significantly improve their cyber defenses, and 61% of IT managers say they could better detect an ongoing security breach by leveraging big data analytics.

This is exactly the type of cybersecurity big data analytics scenario where IDS capabilities – or Software-Defined Storage (SDS), can help – recognizing the flexibility, automation, and efficiency of storage when hardware can be separated from, and controlled by, the software.

My recent article in The National Cybersecurity Institute (NCI) addresses research and innovative data-driven IDS capabilities – such as EMC’s Isilon and various EMC SDS solutions – that contribute to cybersecurity resiliency functional areas.

The intent and focus of this paper is to enhance awareness, discussion, and interaction to stimulate innovation and accelerate the transition and creative technology application of IDS/SDS capabilities that contribute to data-driven cybersecurity solutions.

Please feel free to contact me at audie.hittle@emc.com if you have any questions on the IDS approach or available solutions

Data to Decisions: Leveraging Advanced Data Storage and Big Data Analytics to Support ISR Operations and Decision Support

Audie Hittle

Audie Hittle

CTO Federal and Cybersecurity, Emerging Technologies Division, Dell EMC

Through the collection, protection, and dissemination of data, advanced data storage and analysis solutions are revolutionizing Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and operations. Intelligent Data Storage (IDS), Software Defined Storage (SDS), and a new storage type called Rack-Scale Flash are all demonstrating real performance and operational benefits, and opening the door to fundamentally changing user expectations.

Modern ISR systems are critical to nearly every facet of military missions, intelligence operations, and national security. The operational utility of these systems are dependent upon, and can be dramatically enhanced by, the supporting communication and information technology (IT) solutions. These solutions include the post-sensor collection, efficient storage, effective protection, collaborative access, and sharing of ISR data and analytical results.

The rapid evolution of IDS, such as EMC’s Isilon Scale-Out Network Attached Storage, provides operating system-based storage with automation to eliminate most of the manually-intensive tasks such as configuration management, load balancing, performance tiering, and failover/failback capabilities. This IDS solution is enabling a revolution in tactical and data center operations. For instance, field operations that may have once required senior IT/data storage specialists to handle the installation, configuration setup, and operation are mostly, if not completely, automated now and can be performed by junior enlisted personnel. Likewise, theater-level and larger data center operations, which previously required many people to manage petabytes of data, are now regularly managed by one or just a few people. In some cases, the efficient application of IDS has demonstrated 90 percent or greater savings – thereby freeing up the resources for reallocation to other higher priority mission areas; such as cybersecurity and data analytics. In addition, IDS has inherent cybersecurity resiliency capabilities, which cannot be implemented in traditional hardware-based storage. These cyber capabilities can turn data storage into a data-driven early warning and detection system to feed your Security Information Event Management (SIEM) or predictive analytics system, such as the RSA Security Analytics.

SDS, such as EMC’s Elastic Cloud Storage or IsilonSD Edge, is another recent development with the potential of fundamentally changing the ISR operational landscape. The ability to procure full-featured IDS solutions with inherent cybersecurity resiliency capabilities provides incredible flexibility and a world of new opportunities.

Finally, recent advances in all-flash technology, such as EMC’s DSSD Rack-Scale Flash, represent a true industry disruptor. With its 10x performance improvements over traditional flash, microsecond latency, and breakthrough architecture, it’s so innovative that industry analysts, such as IDC and Gartner Group, had to create a new data storage category to accommodate it. This is a performance revolution for ISR operations, and ISR organizations can leverage these benefits of all-flash storage solutions:

  • Performance: The latest Rack-Scale, all-flash storage is designed to optimize the performance of flash – not just enable flash to be inserted into architectures and equipment operations. Rack-Scale Flash optimizes any Near Real-Time (NRT) applications running in the ISR environment and opens the door for advanced development of true Real-Time (RT) applications. Flash is essential to enable the delivery of mission-critical ISR capabilities at the speed of now. Faster access to ISR results translates into enhanced Command and Control (C2) and RT decision support
  • Analytics and reporting: All-flash storage enables users to capitalize on the next generation of predictive analytics with the ability to link and correlate information in new ways for ISR operational efficiencies, better allocation of resources, more effective prioritization, and proactive analytics to include integration with security analytics
  • Virtualized applications:  All-flash storage dramatically improves the performance of virtualized applications by eliminating latency at the point of the spear (RT) and during subsequent analytical operations (NRT). A key ISR objective is delivering the right data to the right person at the right time, and Rack-Scale Flash provides an order of magnitude greater performance (over traditional architecture flash) to ensure mission accomplishment

Each of these advanced data storage solutions: IDS, SDS, and Rack-Scale Flash, offers Federal government customers the opportunity to simplify operations, cut costs, and improve ISR operational performance. At every step in the process – from collection, protection, analysis, and collaborative sharing of data ‒ these innovative storage capabilities provide new competitive advantages for end users and Federal Systems Integrators alike.

For more information on these innovative ISR mission support solutions, contact your EMC Strategic Alliance Partner Manager, or ping us at www.emc.com.

Are We Modernizing, or Running in Place?

Barry Morris

Barry Morris

Vice President, Dell EMC Federal Division
Barry Morris, Vice President of Dell EMC’s Federal Division, is responsible for general division management, providing leadership and vision to the Federal team, government contractors and partners, and Federal systems integrators. In this role, he is dedicated to helping agencies redefine IT in a more agile, trusted, and cost-efficient way. Morris brings 30 years of experience driving sales to the Federal government, and expanding coverage into the state and local government, education, and medical markets.

The Federal government’s IT legacy systems are costly to maintain and difficult to secure – in fact, they eat up 80% of the Federal IT budget. This leaves agencies little room for innovation and improvement.

Without new ideas and new approaches, agencies may be stuck running in place just to keep the lights on.

Supported by Federal CIO Tony Scott, the administration has proposed a $3.1 billion IT Modernization Fund (ITMF) – to retire, replace, and modernize the Federal government’s IT legacy systems.

If the funding is approved, where can industry provide expertise to help agencies build realistic plans and meet deadlines?

EMC’s Brett Stafford recently spoke at MeriTalk’s Cloud Computing Brainstorm where he addressed this question, and more, along with industry colleagues.

Reach Full Potential at Your Agency

If the ITMF is approved, agencies need to prioritize their spending. Brett noted that as a first step, agencies should understand what they have, and then prioritize what should go where.

Brett noted that often, agencies want to replicate their current processes in a new, more efficient technology – with the goal to achieve savings. However, to achieve desired savings, agencies must consider many different factors associated with the total cost of ownership (TCO) – such as: using the right business models, having the correct understanding of TCO, and understanding the current environment. Additionally, agencies must remember that savings might not necessarily be monetary – if an agency is able to deliver twice the capacity at the same cost, they are saving.

At EMC, we help agencies modernize and keep their mission a priority. Rather than creating a modern version of what agencies already own, EMC works with Federal customers to transform mission-critical workloads. And, we place a high importance on the mission – this means seamlessly modernizing without disruption in the agency’s capabilities during migration.

With funding like ITMF, it is within the art of the possible to deliver greater capabilities, drive down costs, and provide greater security to an organization. However, agencies must think holistically rather than thinking of an individual application or system. Think in terms of standardization, virtualization, modernization, and automation – resulting in transformation.

Federal agencies and industry, working together, can identify what’s working and what’s possible.