The threat landscape has shifted drastically amid the COVID-19 pandemic as more and more organizations and governments deal with emerging cyberattacks and ransomware threats. Pure Storage, an IT leader delivering a portfolio of modern data solutions and services, has continued to provide organizations with innovative solutions to mitigate these threats with its portfolio of data protection tools.

One such tool is a SafeMode, which is built into the company’s FlashArray product and can destroy tainted systems in the case of an attack. It destroys system volumes, snapshots, hosts, and anything else. Once destroyed, these objects sit in a special “destroyed” area that is recoverable for 24 hours. After 24 hours, these objects are removed permanently.

To discuss National Cybersecurity Month and the progression of Pure Storage’s vision and the role of As-a-Service solutions in cybersecurity, MeriTalk caught up with Mike Wiseman, Vice President, Americas Public Sector Sales at Pure Storage.

MeriTalk: How has National Cybersecurity Month taken on greater importance this year?

Wiseman: Cybersecurity Month has brought incredible awareness to the real threats of ransomware to the general public, and for us, it highlights the opportunity to bring that awareness to our customers across State and Local government, Federal government, and Higher Education.

It’s a critical moment in time to highlight some of the security best practices that we’re seeing across all agencies and institutions globally. For example, current functionality that’s already inherent within the solutions that they may have already invested in.

Additionally, it’s especially important to bring awareness to solutions that are easy to use – such as Pure SafeMode. Once a customer turns it on and it’s enabled, it actually helps them to combat ransomware in the event of an attack. But making sure our customers are leveraging core security features and functionality is just one part of the equation. It’s also imperative to look at the platform overall and at solutions that can help them recover quickly and effectively in the event of being hit by a ransomware attack.

One of the most important factors for our customers that have been hit by ransomware is the ability to bring services back up for the constituents in a timely fashion. This October’s National Cybersecurity Month has really been an opportunity for all of us to bring more awareness to the problem and how to solve and mitigate the issues as they come up.

MeriTalk: How has the Cybersecurity Executive Order (EO) signed by President Biden earlier this year impacted cybersecurity on a large scale?

Wiseman: The EO represents a heightened focus and prioritization of cybersecurity from the Biden Administration. It’s a meaningful first step in not only rebuilding a robust infrastructure, but bringing awareness around the need for a solid cybersecurity strategy.

It’s critical for all agencies to invest in reliable data protection platforms that fit the changing needs of their budgets and service goals. It’s important to think of data protection as a utility — all of these solutions and strategies are part of an overarching utility capable of addressing any cybersecurity issues that may come up while yielding the power to quickly recover from a surprise attack.

MeriTalk: As the threat of a ransomware attack looms, what challenges do IT leaders face in terms of modernization?

Wiseman: The biggest challenges come in the form of preventing and minimizing the risk associated with ransomware attacks.

The first thing to understand is that traditional prevention measures (like anti-intrusion systems) are no longer enough. In many cases, once a business has been infected with ransomware, it’s already too late to stop it. While having the proper precautions in place to prevent an attack is absolutely essential, it’s equally as critical that organizations plan for recovery. This means implementing a ransomware strategy that also takes into account the necessary recovery through which data can be rapidly restored, at scale, in order to avoid business continuity disruptions and negative financial impact.

That’s where we come in. IT decision-makers are turning to Pure’s innovative storage solutions to mitigate the lasting impact of these growing attacks and speed recovery time so businesses can resume operations and run with little to no downtime.

MeriTalk: Tell us about your new role as Vice President of Public Sector. What are your priorities for the next year, and how will you focus on bringing together efforts across the Federal and SLED markets?

Wiseman: After spending the last five years building out Pure’s SLED go-to-market, I was given the expanded responsibility for our Federal teams. I’m very fortunate to lead a team of diverse talent who are committed to delivering an exceptional customer experience.

At the end of the day, my biggest priority is to make sure that we’re building an organization that is closer to our customers. That means looking at customers and partner alliances to ensure that we’re providing solutions to our customers that are going to be relevant through all involved stakeholders and making sure that we’re aligned very well to make sure that we’re bringing the best solutions forward.

Pure as a company has been very invested in our public-sector business. I recently hired our first vice president that’s explicitly focused on the Federal space, and I’m in the process of hiring a SLED leader. The focus of each of these segments in state and local, as well as Federal, will be to help our teams be more relevant with our customers and to evangelize our customers’ success in the long term as we see them implementing Pure solutions to solve their business problems.

MeriTalk: Pure recently announced a new offering called Pure Fusion. Can you tell us more about it?

Before diving in, it’s important to understand the landscape a bit more. Today’s IT leaders want the scale and ease of use of the public cloud from their own infrastructure. Still, legacy storage is mired in fundamentally complex architectures, making it impossible to automate at scale. That’s why it’s critical for enterprise storage to evolve in order to deliver a cloud-operating model that gives organizations the flexibility, agility, and speed they want, no matter where their data ultimately resides.

Pure Fusion delivers a new infinite scale-out storage model that unifies arrays and optimizes storage pools on the fly, bringing the simplicity of the cloud operating model anywhere with on-demand consumption and back-end provisioning. End-users will be able to rapidly consume volumes, file systems, and advanced data services like replication without waiting for back-end manual work, making hardware truly invisible. Fusion will allow organizations to scale seamlessly, integrating first with Pure’s FlashArray//X, FlashArray//C, and Pure Cloud Block Store, with future integrations planned with FlashBlade and Portworx.

MeriTalk: Budgets and operations are still reeling from the pandemic. How can agencies invest in solutions with unknown future costs? How does As-a-Service play a role?

Wiseman: Our as-a-Service solutions are really offering customers the flexibility to look at different business models. We’re giving them the agility to move beyond a capital expenditure model (CapEx) into an operating expenditure model (OpEx) and really looking at the opposite side, so we’re definitely seeing some traction with our customers willing to embrace the As-a-Service to really implement within their organizations. It helps them scale up or down without a lot of disruption — both on the installation side and, most importantly, in day-to-day management implementation.

MeriTalk: Going forward, what does the future of Pure solutions look like?

Wiseman: For me, the larger picture would really be where we’re going. We’ve done a really fantastic job in working with our customers in State, Local, Federal government, and in Higher Education. We’re really looking at how we help our customers pivot from what has traditionally been an on-premises solution to more of an As-a-Service solution. We are truly seeing public sector cloud transformation – our solutions are becoming more and more aligned with hybrid cloud strategies, enabling our customers to manage and scale with their own environments and strategies.

The agility and scalability with cloud, and being able to integrate that with a solution such as Pure, we’re able to look at more of a hybrid fashion in that we are starting to see some customers that are taking on efforts around the repatriation of data back into the data center, and looking at how they can navigate and move workloads, and look at more of an on-demand consumption model, provisioning, and some of the flexibility that they enjoy from the cloud.

The optimization around Pure Fusion and where we’re going with that solution moving forward is a significant shift for the company.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.