UPDATED 12:34 EST / DECEMBER 06 2019


Q&A: Federal agencies modernize backup, DR strategies with hybrid IT infrastructure

Federal agencies are beginning to embrace digital transformation. Changing the way they protect data has led them down the incremental path for migrating to cloud computing environments. But of course, this “incremental” part of the strategy means that they still have tons of on-premises resources. And they will for a long time. 

Using a hybrid data IT solution — a combination of cloud and on-premises resources — helps organizations improve dynamic backup and disaster/recovery strategies while ensuring that data remains secure. 

To meet the demand for flexible disaster recovery and backup, especially for hybrid environments, in federal agencies, IT service management company 1901 Group LLC recently advanced its disaster recovery and backup as a service offering. To do so, it leveraged technology from Cohesity Inc.’s DataPlatform and DataProtect technologies and the AWS GovCloud. Cohesity provides the on-prem support for the federal agencies, and Amazon Web Services Inc. provides the cloud-native, multi-tenant instance.

“In order to modernize a very large, complex IT environment, assets, systems, services, multi-locations, various data centers, multiple data classifications … the Cohesity product has allowed us to start incrementally by doing a disaster recovery or a backup on-premise,” said Brendan Walsh (pictured), senior vice president of partner relations at 1901 Group LLC. “Once you start getting the data backed up properly, prepped for disaster recover properly, you can also start migrating data toward the cloud. And particularly we’ve been working with the AWS GovCloud.”

Walsh spoke with John Walls (@JohnWalls21), host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, and guest host Justin Warren (@jpwarren), chief analyst at PivotNine Pty Ltd, during the AWS re:Invent event in Las Vegas. They discussed the 1901 Group, Cohesity’s DRaaS and BaaS solutions, and AWS FedRAMP. (* Disclosure below.)

[Editor’s note: The following has been condensed for clarity.]

Walls: You’re doing [cloud migration] with the help of a Cohesity, a software data management solutions provider. So let’s talk a little bit about Cohesity, as well and your relationship, how that works? 

Walsh: So in our management service offering portfolio, one of the things that we have been using Cohesity for is helping our customer create or start-up disaster recovery or backup services capability. And 1901 Group has been packaging, marketing, selling that DR as a service and that backup as a service to our federal state local customers. 

Warren: Walk us through how you are using Cohesity to help public sector organizations transform themselves to use this kind of as-a-service back up and disaster recovery.

Walsh: So in order to modernize a very large complex IT environment, assets, systems, services, multi-locations various data centers, multiple data classifications … the Cohesity product has allowed us to start incrementally by doing a disaster recovery or a backup on-premise. Once you start getting the data backed up properly, prepped for disaster recover properly, you can also start migrating data toward the cloud. And, particularly, we’ve been working with AWS GovCloud but also AWS’ commercial cloud. 

Warren: So, explain a little bit about how you helped these agencies to change the way they think to be able to use this as-a-service approach. 

Walsh: So, the scale-out capability that Cohesity provides allows us to buy technology capacity nodes as we need them. So we don’t have a large capital expenditure upfront as orders come in; as agencies purchase, as we grow, we can add to that capacity incrementally. And their pricing model allows us to work with our agency customers and predict costing and pricing for next year, two years out, or three years out. It’s a pretty important thing.  

Walls: We’ve heard a lot about a major theme, this transformation versus transition. And in terms of government users, how do you get them into the transformation mindset when you have those obstacles you just talked about?

Walsh: AWS has been investing in what’s called FedRAMP. That’s a federal accreditation program that ensures that those cloud systems, in the case of AWS, have their security controls documented properly … and then enforced. So continuously monitored and reported on. So, the investments that AWS has been making and the speed of investment have been increasing over the last few years. [They] have really helped manage service providers and IT providers, like 1901 Group, help the agencies understand how to transition and transform. 

Walls: What would be a useful or valuable shift in terms of the public sector — in terms of their acceptance or adoption [for this model] in your world? 

Walsh: So as applications are migrated, refactored or rewritten into cloud environments, you’re going to see mission applications at the agency level move to cloud. So data, for performance reasons, is going to have to be right next to that application. And you start looking two, three years out; I do believe the agencies have a lot of momentum.

There are some really interesting activities being done in the federal and state local realm around artificial intelligence and machine learning. So being able to do the compute, the storage, the networking, and security all within an AWS cloud, it’s just going to speed things up and make cost and performance more manageable and transparent. 

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the AWS re:Invent event. (* Disclosure: Cohesity Inc. sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither Cohesity nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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