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Data grows in both volume and value with every passing day. IDC reported that from 2010 through 2020, the estimated amount of data in the digital universe grew from 1.2 zettabytes to 40 zettabytes. (A zettabyte is 1 trillion gigabytes.) The technologies we use to store and transmit data rush to keep up with the demand, requiring speed, scalability and security in equal measure.  

Secure data fabric (SDF), a transformational technology, offers a solution to many data needs. Simply put, data fabric connects unrelated data sources and infrastructure types to provide a framework that enables sharing of data where it resides. As the fabric metaphor suggests, data fabric interweaves all of its data sources into a whole. Adding the “secure” component completes the picture with powerful measures to keep the data safe and unadulterated as it moves across the fabric. 

CGI SecureDataFabric™ facilitates data sharing through a unique security platform, giving information seekers the insights they need while simultaneously allowing data owners to control their data without a centralized data repository. The technology promotes efficient access and discovery of data across and between organizations, while providing robust audit traceability and promoting discoverability. It validates access without the need for duplicating data, which commonly sacrifices data integrity, authority and non-repudiation. 

Data as a strategic asset

Government and commercial entities have come to embrace the idea of the data economy, of treating data as an asset. Data is non-depleting, enduring and non-degradable, and the more it is used, the more valuable it becomes.

SDF recognizes that data must be available on demand, whereas computing resources may or may not be. Agencies can move their systems across the infrastructure or shut down those they do not need. Data, in contrast, is always residing somewhere, often moving from point to point across a network. In an ideal world, the data would reside close to the systems that use it. In reality, the sheer scope of federal agencies—and interagency operations—make that ideal extremely hard to achieve.

To overcome this challenge, CGI SecureDataFabric uses data virtualization. Through data virtualization, the SDF draws from other data sources, establishes remote connections, and uses a clever combination of technologies like caching, and push-down query optimization to bring data together on demand. 

When organizations treat data as an asset, managing metadata becomes critical. CGI SecureDataFabric uses an augmented data catalog for the important job of inventorying distributed metadata, which allows search capabilities. Federal agencies can now distribute and enrich business-semantic information throughout their organizations. 

Managing operational metadata is at the core of CGI SecureDataFabric. It uses immutable hashed timestamps to capture all human and machine consumption, enabling visualization and analysis of usage. AI/ML algorithms automatically detect anomalous patterns and alert the data/system owners. CGI SecureDataFabric provides a centralized mechanism, comparing governance policies with the actual consumption.

Through these capabilities, it becomes easy to establishing data lineage, verifying the accuracy of the data itself, as well as its generation. Knowledge graphs and advanced visualizations in the CGI SecureDataFabric allow for in-depth introspection of both business and operation metadata.

Security as a forethought

CGI SecureDataFabric uses attribute-based access control (ABAC) and blockchain technology to enable secure data management irrespective of complexity of the sources, classification and user base. Blockchain provides data access, drawing on the power of the technology to document transactions and prevent undetected changes to the data. ABAC, meanwhile, regulates access to the data resources and assets, restricting it to users with specified, pre-defined roles in their organizations. 

CGI SecureDataFabric allows data owners to keep ownership while opening the data to others who need it, potentially solving the problem of data silos. In a fabric-enabled environment, data ownership is governed by policy, not technology. Data can reside in a central depository or operate under a distributed paradigm, based on the governance method organizations choose, with minimal hindrance to access. 

Unleashing data to advance the National Defense Strategy

In September of 2020, during product development of CGI SecureDataFabric the Department of Defense released an executive summary for its forthcoming data strategy, with the full document following in October. Our team was elated to see that DOD’s strategy aligned extremely well with our own.

The DOD outlines seven goals in order to become data centric:

  1. Make Data Visible – Consumers can locate the needed data.
  2. Make Data Accessible – Consumers can retrieve the data.
  3. Make Data Understandable – Consumers can recognize the content, context and applicability.
  4. Make Data Linked – Consumers can exploit data elements through innate relationships.
  5. Make Data Trustworthy – Consumers can be confident in all aspects of data for decision-making.
  6. Make Data Interoperable – Consumers have a common representation/comprehension of data.
  7. Make Data Secure – Consumers know that data is protected from unauthorized use/manipulation.

CGI SecureDataFabric, through its use of data discovery features, makes data visible and accessible. CGI’s SecureDataFabric advanced search, cataloging and knowledge graph capabilities make data understandable, linked and interoperable. The use of CGI SecureDataFabric patent pending blockchain and ABAC technologies make data trustworthy and secure.

To learn more about CGI SecureDataFabric, visit the solutions page.


About these authors

Jason Marsh, CGI Federal

Jason Marsh

Director, Consulting Services

Jason Marsh has over 20 years of experience supporting the Intelligence Community (IC) with intelligence operations, program management, systems engineering, and Intelligence production. Jason has supported the insertion of emerging technology within the Intelligence Community as well as the associated governance and adoption of ...


Hriday Keni

Senior Consultant

Hriday Keni is an accomplished Product Management professional and an Agile Coach  who joined CGI in 2019.

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