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Easier Than Rocket Science: Data Security with Mike Martin

April 24, 2013

Mike Martin may be the only IBM Champion with an album currently available on iTunes.  Based in the Philadelphia area, Mike and his band, Lo-Fi Genius, recorded an album, This is Rocket Science, including the song, “George Wendt Lives in My Building.” After all, George Wendt really did live in Mike’s building at one point.

Today, when he’s not making music, Mike is busy securing data. Luckily, Mike’s company, the Business & Technology Resource Group (BTRG), makes data security far easier than rocket science.

Mike is practice director of information governance for BTRG. He solves data quality, data growth, data privacy, data security, test data management and compliance problems for Fortune 1000 customers across many industries.

“A lot of our customers have mature systems that have accumulated quite a bit of data,” Mike said, noting that this leads to a familiar challenge: How can you manage volume, ensure high-performing systems and reduce costs?

Many companies seek to solve this challenge with a top-down approach. They launch an information governance program by establishing a council, naming data stewards and rolling out organization-wide policies. But as a member of the Information Governance Council, Mike takes a more solution-oriented, bottoms-up approach.

By looking for tangible pain points, such as data quality, data security or data volume, he offers clients a specific solution that delivers reportable ROI. Clients can then build from that success. “By solving significant problems that are in your enterprise systems, it gives you a foothold to really establish broader information governance,” Mike explained. “Then you already have an ROI and a case that you can use to internally sell that initiative.”

In the face of big data, information governance best practices and models still apply. In fact, Mike believes the stakes grow higher as data volumes increase. He noted, “Without good quality, the insights we would draw with a big data solution won’t be as valuable.”

BTRG works especially closely with IBM InfoSphere Optim, which enables data masking for non-production systems that are often shared with partners, employees, or others who need the data. Masking helps obscure personally identifiable or sensitive information. BTRG’s Data Masking Factory™ helps automate the requirements gathering, analysis, design, documentation and actual development. Mike explains that the tool exposes Optim’s “robust capabilities” while creating an easy-to-use checklist that lets users easily pick which fields to mask. The solution was one of only three finalists for the highly competitive IBM Beacon Award.

In one recent implementation spanning 18 mission-critical applications, BTRG completed the project in a mere 14 weeks. This was two weeks ahead of schedule, and 40% under budget. The best part? Based on the industry-standard Ponemon study that states every row of breached data costs a company approximately $204, Mike estimates they created $22 billion of data protection across 109 million rows of data.

On the production side, privileged users like DBAs and system admins certainly need greater. However, Mike helps clients use InfoSphere Guardium to monitor and log these activities, which can help stave off cyber attacks. Clients can mark certain data tables as “protected” and terminate connections if users try to access them. BTRG also helps clients take InfoSphere Guardium’s vulnerability assessments to a new level, extending the best practices and standards to the entire ERP system.

Listen to the podcast we recorded with Mike and my colleague David Pittman to hear some great stories from Mike. Also be sure to follow Mike on Twitter @BTRG_MikeMartin.