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

Audie Hittle

Audie Hittle

Federal CTO, Emerging Technologies Division, EMC Corporation

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, EMC Federal Division
Barry Morris, Vice President of 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.

Improving Military Healthcare with All-Flash Storage

Barry Morris

Barry Morris

Vice President, EMC Federal Division
Barry Morris, Vice President of 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.

Alongside their private sector counterparts, military healthcare providers are modernizing IT infrastructure to meet evolving clinical and business requirements.

Veterans Affairs CIO LaVerne Council testified in April that she has recommended a “state-of-the-art, world class” electronic health record to VA Undersecretary for Health, David Shulkin, MD, including four key components – clinical management, hospital operations, veteran experience, and predictive analytics.

And, the Department of Defense has launched a massive, multibillion-dollar EHR modernization project that supports 9.5 million beneficiaries; more than 205,000 healthcare professionals and support staff working at more than 1,230 locations across 16 countries; 1 million inpatient admissions, 95 million outpatient encounters, and 128 million prescriptions filled each year.

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 – modernizing the underlying infrastructure is key, and flash storage is an important tool.

According to a recent blog post, all-flash solutions allow health IT teams to address the demanding requirements of initiatives including evidence-based care, electronic health record (EHR) systems, Big Data analytics, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and more. All while enabling healthcare providers to make better informed decisions.

Healthcare organizations are leveraging the following benefits of all-flash storage solutions:

  • Performance: All-flash storage is necessary to enable the delivery of mission-critical healthcare at the speed of now. Faster access to results at the point of care translates into better patient outcomes
  • Mixed workloads: All-flash storage supports mixed workload environments and application consolidation. This is particularly valuable in EHR systems – with their need for solutions that deliver optimum performance, maximum data reduction, and the highest levels of uptime and availability
  • Analytics and reporting: Eighty percent of healthcare executives say providers who adopt an analytics strategy in the next three years will outpace their peer institutions. All-flash storage enables IT to speed the next generation of predictive analytics with the ability to link and correlate information in new ways for operational efficiencies, patient care delivery, clinical research, population health, and security analytics
  • Virtualized applications: All-flash storage dramatically improves the performance of virtualized applications by eliminating the impact of the IO Blender Effect, which can introduce latency at the point of care. Presenting the right data to the right person at the right time is vital for military healthcare

To support the improvement of military healthcare, EMC is proud to participate in the Defense Health Information Technology Symposium (DHITS) 2016 on August 2-4. Please visit us at booth 401 to learn more about how Big Data analytics and data lakes are transforming military health.

For additional information on military healthcare and all-flash storage, please check out:

Military Health – From Volume to Value

Barry Morris

Barry Morris

Vice President, EMC Federal Division
Barry Morris, Vice President of 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 digital world is driving us to act as both patients and consumers of healthcare information. For example – wearable devices, such as Fitbits, provide users with personalized data and the insight required to make more informed lifestyle decisions.

At the same time, healthcare providers are shifting to value-based care – from “pay per pill” to “pay for performance” and “pay for outcomes” while working to meet meaningful use goals. Comprehensive patient and population health data, and data collection opportunities enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) can provide opportunities for healthcare providers – including military – to attain new insights and deliver the best care possible.

In a recent article in Health IT Analytics, EMC’s Roberta Katz writes, “In the current accountable care environment, where electronic health record documentation is being prioritized, this new realm of patient generated data can build on a caregiver’s clinical expertise and augment hospital protocols…With the use of IoT tools and sensors, we can review our own data in real-time, from the number of steps we are taking, cardio output, sleep cycles, blood pressure, and even mood, to become an ‘empowered’ patient.”

Working toward a transformative goal to achieve, among others, the results stated by Katz show that the Military Health System (MHS) is undergoing a disruptive application migration from the current system (AHLTA) to the new Cerner-based MHS GENESIS – targeted for launch at the end of this year. Their goal: the ability to share health records electronically and document the complete continuum of care between MHS locations, private providers, and possibly Veteran Affairs.

Centralized data collection and analysis can provide a picture otherwise impossible to obtain – bringing together disparate information that alone does not raise an alert, but pulled together, can signal a need for intervention.

EMC is proud to participate in the Defense Health Information Technology Symposium (DHITS) 2016 on August 2-4 – and will focus on supporting the MHS Transformation. Please visit us at booth 401 to learn more about how Big Data analytics and data lakes are transforming military health.

For additional information, check out:

Technology Foundation for the Modern Data Center

Barry Morris

Barry Morris

Vice President, EMC Federal Division
Barry Morris, Vice President of 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 we know, the digital universe is growing 40% every year – which means the volume of data agencies collect, store, and manage will only continue to grow. Between all the video captured via body-worn cameras, wearables that track health data, and sensors on military equipment, data quickly piles up.

At the same time, as the volume, variety, and velocity of data is skyrocketing, FITARA has strengthened the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI). This enables agencies to work on automating service delivery and adopt “Cloud First” policies – leveraging inter-agency shared services or co-location data centers. Most importantly, it allows agencies to migrate to better-optimized data centers.

The savings potential is enormous. A GAO report on data consolidation progress earlier this year noted an estimated $2.8 billion in cost savings and avoidances from fiscal years 2011 to 2015. But just four agencies, the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, and Treasury, accounted for about $2.4 billion – or approximately 86% – of the total savings to date.

There is more work to be done. By the end of fiscal year 2019, agencies plan to close 2,078 additional data centers, for an estimated $8.2 billion in savings and cost avoidances. To accomplish this goal, we need to transform the remaining data centers into modern data centers.

Makings of the Modern Data Center

At EMC, we are helping organizations create new ways to build and deliver IT services. IT must deliver performance and resiliency – and not slow the business down. A modern data center will enable this, and more.

We believe the modern data center is based on a number of key technology components:

  • Flash – Will be the top storage method; in fact, 2016 has been declared the “year of all-flash.” Due to its affordability, agility, efficiency, and speed, flash storage delivers the performance needed for next-generation applications
  • Cloud-enabled – Provides the automation and agility needed for seamless IT service. Hybrid cloud is emerging as a key component in moving forward with digital transformation
  • Scale-out – Enables a flexible, single scale-out system that allows management of massive capacities with few resources. A Data Lake allows Big Data accessibility, and meets the demands of storage growth
  • Software-defined – Allows automation of the configuration and deployment of IT services for simple management of data services. Software-defined solutions optimize IT operations, and allow room for innovation

Let’s Get Started

The future will have more data, leading to an increased need for real time operation and analytics insights.

As Jeremy Burton said, “If an organization is to operate with the agility, speed, and efficiency required of the digital era, its IT department must deliver a modern data center built upon technologies that can enable it.”

To learn more about the modern data center, check out Jeremy Burton’s recent blog post on the topic:  The Pillars of the Modern Data Center.