Innovation Begins With Data

An interview with Nick Psaki, Principal Technologist, Pure Storage.

Agencies might have a wide variety of technological innovations to choose from, but for Nick Psaki at Pure Storage, those reforms all come down to one thing: data.

“Digital transformation fundamentally starts with your data,” Psaki said. “What do you want to do with it? How do you want to leverage it? What’s the criticality of it?”

There aren’t one or two general reasons why agencies should innovate, he believes: There are six specific reasons they must move beyond the status quo.

  • Security: Increased ransomware and other events have made security extremely important.
  • Simplicity: It’s no longer OK to buy more complex solutions to do the same things.
  • Scale: Data is growing exponentially, so agencies need solutions that can scale seamlessly, nearly infinitely, and without disruption.
  • Sustainment: Budgets are finite, and organizations need solutions that offer a unified financial option.
  • Speed: People need faster access to data, so agencies need systems that deliver that.
  • Environmental efficiency: The right data platform can reduce your environmental impact, a big deal considering that 25% of all U.S. electrical generation capacity goes to data centers, according to estimates, Psaki said. To be more specific, that 25% energy consumption represents 190.8 terawatt-hours, and around 10% of that is just storage. Reducing that figure by 67%, for instance, has a monumental impact on the energy grid and the environment. Here is Psaki’s advice for agencies looking to innovate.

Have a Strategy

It’s vital for agencies to identify goals and have a strategy before they begin and to understand what applications and processes to leverage, he said. For instance, some items transition to the cloud easily, while others belong on-premises.

Look for Modernized Platforms

Don’t expect to use old technology to do new things. “The world has fundamentally shifted in terms of what’s available and the capabilities of technology,” Psaki said. “Know where you’re going … and know what is out there.”

Really Understand the Cost

He stressed knowing the financial ramifications of owning any platform. It’s about “really beating your vendors, your partners, and your providers mercilessly about … the financial model. Given my environment and my transformation goals, what is that really going to cost me?” he said.

Pure Storage — a data storage and management provider that helps agencies manage their information seamlessly across multiple clouds, among many other capabilities — can be a reliable partner to agencies, Psaki said. For example, California’s San Luis Obispo County was making do with aging storage infrastructure that struggled to handle the county’s digital services. The system also was partly responsible for a crash that affected service performance for almost one week.

Today, the county can more reliably and quickly deliver digital services to its more than 300,000 residents and better support internal systems used by 2,800 hybrid employees.

“We make your data go faster, we give you more leverage … and we let you do it at tremendously lower cost,” Psaki said.

This article first appeared in our guide, “Innovations 2022: Conversations That Matter.” To read more about how government leaders are embracing the future, download here.

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