He brings over 20 years of federal contract experience to EMC and has held leadership positions with NetApp, Symantec, Sun Microsystems, and IBM.
Walsh recently spoke to ExecutiveBiz for an in-depth conversation on some of the opportunities he sees in data information management for federal agencies.
ExecutiveBiz: What parts of the business did you primarily focus on last year?
Mike Walsh: A main focus area for EMC’s Federal Division is providing data management solutions to agencies across the government. Throughout last year, we worked with our customers to figure out how to execute data solutions for their unique application needs. Catering to the needs of both defense and civilian agencies, we helped customers implement mission-critical solutions such as virtual desktop solutions, Big Data solutions for agencies wanting to execute industrialized Internet or condition-based maintenance, and solutions for agencies trying to reduce development costs in their data centers by implementing a hyper-converged infrastructure – where the server switch and storage is all in one rack.
ExecutiveBiz: What challenges or issues in information management became more prominent in 2014?
Mike Walsh: Cyber crime is not new, but as technologies advance, so do threats to agency networks. As such, the collection of cyber-related information is one area that evolved greatly in the past year, and remained a prominent priority across the Federal government. For example, many agencies want to keep much of their data relating to network and security nodes for as long as possible, because they are trying to identify the low and slow attacks on their networks. These hacks are coming in from many different locations, as hackers increasingly find multiple vectors in a system. This means agencies must collect enough information in order for security analysts to figure out whether or not there is an attacker. While the increase in data means more intelligence for the Federal government, their data management and analytics technologies need to keep up in order to maximize insights.
Another information management issue has been agencies’ common goal to balance security, cost, and performance in their IT departments. As a result, they are increasingly turning to hybrid cloud environments – aiming to connect their cloud to their data centers so they can securely and efficiently access the information they need, when they need it.
ExecutiveBiz: Where are the most prominent application demands in the Defense market?
Mike Walsh: There are three different prominent demands based upon how applications are grouped together.
First is cyber data collection. EMC’s Federal Division recently began implementing a data center consolidation effort for security information for an agency, where we are helping to reduce security information systems from over a hundred locations down to seven sites. Since these consolidated sites allow for a smaller attack plane, the agency will have greater focus and visibility into potential security threats. Thus, these sites will empower agencies to more efficiently track whether or not they are being penetrated, and will provide for a better method of combatting information operations once they figure out their attackers.
The second demand is picking up information from sensors – which can include devices on people, drones, or vehicles. Due to the increasing use of mobile sensors across the Department of Defense, such as body cameras on soldiers, defense agencies in particular face unique hurdles as they continue to produce sensory data at an unprecedented rate. This data is providing invaluable information, but strains infrastructures at the same time. In order to derive actionable insights, agencies must redefine IT – finding ways to optimally store, analyze, protect, and access their data.
The third application demand is Big Data. There has been much discussion around the collection and extrapolation of information in an open source framework system that doesn’t have any proprietary software. Big Data users include code and algorithm writers, and the data scientists who use the information produced by those writers. These folks are solving some of the largest queries in Federal research, such as genomic questions or finding rare disease types through the correlation of the information in genomic examples. In addition to collecting and storing the data, agencies must also effectively maintain it in order to properly perform analysis. In what the military calls “condition-based maintenance,” some systems get heavier use than others, and users have to factor in the amount of time and the location of the application use in order to calculate how often it will require maintenance.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you think agencies should bring commercial technologies into their IT infrastructures?
Mike Walsh: As an example of effective use of commercial technologies in Federal IT infrastructures, EMC is working with customers to create hybrid cloud environments – meaning some of their systems are on-premises in private clouds, and some of the data for these systems might be off-premises in public clouds. To empower agencies to fully achieve an efficient environment that meets their mission’s needs, we assemble solutions that enable users to operate a cloud-based framework with utility-based pricing. A user will only be billed for the amount of data or access to the systems in remote data centers that are not part of the usual connections. Utility-based pricing is based upon the utility-based services that are provided to customers.