At General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, James Kilbride deploys the capabilities of the firm’s Cyber and Intelligence Solutions division to help government customers advance their missions.
Kilbride joined General Dynamics in 2005 and earned with a doctoral degree in computer science one year later, which he holds in addition to his M.B.A. degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Kilbride outlines how he applies both educational backgrounds to his work at General Dynamics and what he sees as the best way for cloud computing users to achieve the twin goals of open access and security.
ExecutiveBiz: When did you take on your current role at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, and how has your focus evolved since then?
James Kilbride: I’ve been in my current role as the technical director for the Cyber and Intelligence Solutions division here at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems since October of 2013. Prior to that, I was the program manager and chief engineer for our Cloud Computing Internal Research and Development program.
Given the relatively short time I’ve been in my current role, it’s not been so much an evolution of my agenda, but more a maturing of it. I’m taking the different pieces of our cyber business, getting a better sense of how they’re going to fit together and putting them into a coherent strategy that will help our customer’s advance their mission.
ExecutiveBiz: What’s the key to striking a balance between maintaining security and having an open collaborative environment in the cloud space?
James Kilbride: Security really is a piece of what’s driving cloud adoption, because in many ways, I can actually secure my cloud computing environments more easily than I can the traditional multi-siloed way of storing my data.
I’ve got many fewer points of entry and locations where that malicious attack or those bad actors can infiltrate the network.
Organizations are going to define security requirements at an appropriate level, based on the sharing of the data that will go into the cloud. So, there may be many types or many levels of security within the same cloud.
The key to a successful cloud adoption is that the level of security will need to be able to vary based on the information of the processing going on within it.
Ultimately, the desired state is an environment that has exactly enough security that users find only the information that’s specific to them, that helps them do their mission or job, and it’s no more than that, nor is it any less.
The security of the cloud needs to be on a user‑by‑user basis and on a data or mission‑by‑mission basis.
ExecutiveBiz: What’s your role and General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems’ role in helping customers identify their best cloud computing option?
James Kilbride: It’s the integration of what is possible from a technology viewpoint and from a business viewpoint.
It’s matching those requirements together and designing a system that is open enough to allow the customers to evolve it as their requirements change, as their organizations become more mature, and as they want to be more flexible in those security requirements.
If they want to bring more of their enterprise into a cloud, for example, they want to be able to then change that cloud to adjust to that and their fast-changing mission requirements.
That’s where we help our customers understand what they can do and then help implement a comprehensive cloud computing solution for them.
ExecutiveBiz: Where can industry players like General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems and the government improve their collaboration on network security?
James Kilbride: It would be in the area of standards because defending your networks is really going to be a collaborative effort between government and industry.
There’s a lot of work being done on setting up data standards, which is good, because then everyone ensures that they know how to consume the data that they’re each putting out there. But, those standards need to make sure that they actually address the security concerns we were just talking about.
If I don’t have a standard for how I describe the security of my data that I share with you or if I don’t have confidence that you are implementing those security measures to a similar standard, I’m not going to share the most critical information that you’re going to need because there will probably be concerns about that information if it gets exposed beyond your organization.
The requirement is to be able to describe not only data standards, but security standards that we all agree to and implement in a way that prevents my data from being compromised when I share it with you.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you apply your educational background, including an MBA from RPI in New York, to your current role?
James Kilbride: The interesting thing about RPI is its tie back to technology as an engineering school. The MBA at RPI really provided me with a solid understanding of the skills necessary to manage innovation effectively and bring people together to make that innovation possible, both internally within my organization and externally.
As a systems integrator, we work with a lot of other vendors and with the customers to bring the capabilities together. It’s truly the collaboration that allows you to bring innovation into the solutions and to the offerings that you’re bringing forward.
You know, it’s being able to take an idea, move it from one industry to another, to recognize how different things tie together, and to understand that there’s a process that you can go through to create that innovation. It’s not about guesswork. It’s not about the lone, brilliant scientist.
It’s a repeatable process of planning to do lots of failures that you manage so that they never drain too many of your resources in order to prove or disprove what you set out to do. It’s this continual process of planning, testing, training ideas on the side, and bringing them in again.
That’s really what my MBA taught me and something that I’m actually applying every day into my role here with General Dynamics.