Why data management matters

New technologies are changing government's approach to data and cloud -- or they should be.

data services (everything possible/Shutterstock.com)

The world of data is changing, and data is changing the world.  New technologies are now available to government that provide data management tools through an automated, converged approach.  These technologies simplify IT modernization, allowing agencies to integrate immediately to the cloud, reduce cost and move off legacy solutions so they can fully achieve the goals of the Modernizing Government Technology Act. 

In issuing the draft federal data strategy in June, the Office of Management and Budget clearly recognized that government needs a new approach to data management to maximize the usefulness of government-held information. The draft data strategy highlights four areas of focus: enterprise data governance; access, use and augmentation; decision-making; and commercialization.  These "four pillars" form the foundation of government's new approach to data management, and they should be considered not just in the context of the data strategy but also in our new approach to cloud computing, as outlined in the recently released "Cloud Smart" policy. So, what does that new approach look like, and how can new and emerging technologies help government achieve its vision?

In the federal government, data and applications are spread across multiple, disconnected locations and services, each with its own set of governance rules and challenges. To move effectively to the cloud, agencies need solutions that help them understand and unify this fragmented environment by organizing all of their data and business information to make it discoverable and usable no matter where it is stored or what policies have been applied to it.  Recognizing the benefit of these types of solutions is critical to developing and implementing an effective data strategy and speeding the adoption of cloud across government.

To that end, new technologies can automate and deliver centralized management to a fragmented government data environment, helping provide a more comprehensive view of an agency's physical, virtual and cloud environments, while making data management tasks simple and intuitive.  These new tools --  which can determine compliant applications at-a-glance, help to optimize cost and performance and provide on-demand insights, among other things  -- can dramatically change how agencies use and manage data, while breaking down silos, improving data sharing and making evidence-based decisions a reality. 

Today, commercial companies are leveraging next-generation data management solutions to create centralized "dashboard" management for their global, distributed data environments. These solutions are powered by an automated visualization engine that enables filtering as-you-go to generate rich custom dashboards in minutes.  These tools provide a seamless user experience through a comprehensive view of the physical, virtual and cloud topologies while making management tasks elegantly simple and intuitive.  Furthermore, they allow organizations to search for point-in-time activity by application or location, determine SLA-compliant applications at a glance and optimize costs and performance with on-demand insights on infrastructure health and behavior.  Government agencies should leverage these same tools to better understand their data environment and enhance mission delivery.   

The federal government has taken a dramatic step forward with the issuance of the draft federal data and Cloud Smart strategies.  Together, these two policies can help drive government technology into the 21st century, improving day-to-day government operations and the delivery of citizen services.  Data may be "the new gold" as some have said, but unless agencies can see it, understand it and unpack it, it is no more useful today than it was 10 years ago.

As the federal government works to modernize its legacy infrastructure and implement cloud smart solutions, it is imperative to ensure those strategies include comprehensive data management approaches.  Government customers are shifting data and applications to the cloud, and next-generation solutions must include ways to easily and securely manage all data, whether it's physical or virtualized, across all locations -- on premises, at the edge and in the cloud. Data management solutions should be comprehensive, securing data in a cost-effective manner while meeting the high security standards of federal customers.