How one Virginia county benefited by moving data to the cloud

Fairfax County benefits from improved operational intelligence and cost savings from a reduced data center footprint, a new report says.

Fairfax County, Virginia, officials are seeing first-hand how the elasticity, security and scalability of their new cloud computing service has improved the county’s IT security and operational intelligence. It’s also reduced hardware costs, thanks to a smaller data center footprint, according to a new report.

In the past, the county’s IT team was challenged to consolidate the data of numerous disparate systems from which it had to pull its data. What’s more, its previous security and event management (SIEM) tool could not keep up with the more than 3.9 petabytes of data the county must control, access and secure.

A recent report published by Splunk details the benefits Fairfax County realized in partnering with this cloud services provider. The county was able to continue support for more than 50 county agencies as well as protect its citizens’ data. Using the cloud to access data and analytics tools more efficiently enabled the IT office to produce real-time security reports and increase its focus for strategic initiatives.

Mike Dent, the county’s chief information security officer (CISO), said some of his counterparts initially voiced security concerns for a cloud platform transition.

“With Splunk Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS) it’s an easier win for me to explain to the leadership that I have a secure connection to the cloud,” Dent said. “My staff can get to it. The data is there, it’s ours. We manage and control it. No one else has access to it. I don’t have to worry about hardware failing. All of that is taken care of through my agreement with the cloud services that we’re using. It’s 24/7 access.”

Today, Fairfax County relies on its cloud platform to monitor employee emails for phishing attempts and other daily threats on its endpoint systems.

“In addition to known threats, the county monitors and protects against dangerous malware while also defending its critical infrastructure including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems,” the report states.

Fairfax County uses the new platform for capabilities that go beyond security reporting, including analytics on IT usage, such as hardware, software, internet use and bandwidth utilization.

In addition, the county has multiple layers of security controls in place throughout its IT system. As a CISO, Dent says this starts with making sure he has the right solutions, in combination with the right people, processes and policies.

“My top priority is to protect the citizens’ data,” Dent said. “Making sure that these citizens can trust the government they have with the data that they have entrusted us with is our mission.”

This article was produced by StateScoop for, and sponsored by, Splunk.

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