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Four Security Management Strategies for Data Center Consolidation

Level 12

By Joe Kim, SolarWinds Chief Technology Officer

The Data Center Optimization Initiative was introduced last year, superseding the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI).

While there have been some major wins, including billions of dollars saved and thousands of data centers shuttered, those wins do not change the fact that there are still major cybersecurity concerns surrounding the consolidation effort. According to a SolarWinds and Market Connections cybersecurity survey from last year, these concerns mainly stem from incomplete transitions during consolidation and modernization projects, overly complex enterprise management tools, and a lack of familiarity with new systems.

The fact that these concerns are still top of mind several years into the FDCCI is not surprising, considering the rapid evolution of the threat landscape.

Let’s take a look at four strategies federal network administrators can adopt to help circumvent this challenge and make their data consolidation efforts a little more secure.

1. Create a clearly defined organizational structure

Ultimately, everyone in an agency has a hand in data center operations—not just IT administrators, but also developers, managers and executives. Each responsible party should be assigned unique responsibilities and remain in contact with each other. That way, if a breach or outage occurs, the team will be able to work together to address the issue.

2. Follow up with lightweight and flexible procedures

One of the goals behind the federal government’s modernization effort is to become more agile and flexible, but this should not be confined to hardware and software. Once the organizational structure is defined and it’s time to put processes and procedures in place, agencies should help ensure that they are highly flexible and can adapt to changing conditions.

3. Encrypt and segment data at rest and in flight

All data, whether at rest or in flight, must be encrypted, especially as agencies continue their data center transitions. There are simply too many risks involved in the transition process itself -- too many places where data is vulnerable and too many opportunities for increasingly savvy hackers or insiders to access information left in the open.

Data segmentation is also critical, as it can limit the attack damage to a subset of data. Segmenting can reduce the potential for cascading -- and often catastrophic -- network failures.

4. Automate security and gain complete control

Administrators must implement solutions that can monitor applications and network activity and deliver patches and updates as necessary. These goals can be achieved with modern performance monitoring software that gives data center managers a complete view of the health of every aspect of their data centers, including compute, storage, network, and applications.

Administrators willing to lay the security groundwork now will find their road toward data center consolidation easier to travel. Their efforts will also provide a solid foundation for managing what promises to be a tricky post-consolidation world, where the amount of data continues to grow even as the number of data centers has shrunk.

Find the full article on Government Computer News.

8 Comments
scottmathews
Level 9

As much as I like item 1: Create a clearly defined organizational structure, I foresee problems. Even at the state level where I worked, inter-agency cooperation was a Potemkin village. I certainly hope things are better at the Federal level or we may never get a handle of proper cybersecurity.

Jfrazier
Level 18

good points...but in many cases things like backup strategies differ and somehow must be consolidated...and the result coordinated throughout the consolidation period.

byrona
Level 21

I think they would significantly benefit from a standardization of tools as well; I am assuming that this isn't already true.  By having standardized tool-sets and standardize ways of using those tools it would make it much easier for the different teams to work together as they would all be speaking the same language and have the same understandings.

vinay.by
Level 16

Nice article

mtgilmore1
Level 13

Good article...

ecklerwr1
Level 19

We're currently in a status that encrypted data at rest has to be applied on new purchases only... like for example if we buy a new NAS we have to have drive encryption as part of it.

tinmann0715
Level 16

Interesting approach. A little too high level and basic for me though... even as a starting point for a template to follow. But on the flipside it does allow flexibility for you to take your own path.

gfsutherland
Level 14

Nice Article... well done!

About the Author
Joseph is a software executive with a track record of successfully running strategic and execution-focused organizations with multi-million dollar budgets and globally distributed teams. He has demonstrated the ability to bring together disparate organizations through his leadership, vision and technical expertise to deliver on common business objectives. As an expert in process and technology standards and various industry verticals, Joseph brings a unique 360-degree perspective to help the business create successful strategies and connect the “Big Picture” to execution. Currently, Joseph services as the EVP, Engineering and Global CTO for SolarWinds and is responsible for the technology strategy, direction and execution for SolarWinds products and systems. Working directly for the CEO and partnering across the executive staff in product strategy, marketing and sales, he and his team is tasked to provide overall technology strategy, product architecture, platform advancement and engineering execution for Core IT, Cloud and MSP business units. Joseph is also responsible for leading the internal business application and information technology activities to ensure that all SolarWinds functions, such as HR, Marketing, Finance, Sales, Product, Support, Renewals, etc. are aligned from a systems perspective; and that we use the company's products to continuously improve their functionality and performance, which ensures success and expansion for both SolarWinds and customers.