Editor's Note: Branndon Kelley (above) is speaking at IT Martini 22: Infrastructure We Trust, taking place on June 21st, 2012 at The Freedom Center in Cincinnati. 

Branndon Kelley: It's a Data Explosion
By Terreece Clarke, May 24th, 2012

Both Branndon Kelley, CIO at American Municipal Power, and Jared Price, IT Director at American Municipal Power are speaking at IT Martini 22 in Cincinnati next month about being on the front lines of an explosive issue in today’s enterprise: data management.

“The whole idea of managing data is fairly new,” Kelley said. “[In the past] 10 years until today, data has exploded, and we were not ready for that explosion. It has only been in the last five years we have gotten serious about data.”

American Municipal Power (AMP) is a nonprofit wholesale power supplier and services provider for 129 member municipal electric systems in Ohio, the midwest and east coast. Like most companies, AMP is experiencing a steady increase in data.

“It is important, now more than ever, to be able to manage, organize and store the data that’s relevant to the organization”, Price said. “Companies are realizing more people are accessing and storing more data on their consumer devices, which is another significant contribution to increased data use.”

A Partnership Approach

To dig into this issue, Kelley has taken the approach to partner with all relevant AMP divisions to help the organization identify the contents of its data, its value and the best strategies for management. This approach avoids the traditional disconnect between data manager and data owner.

“This disconnect has resulted in a lack of understanding and knowledge regarding the content of data, its value and how long it should be stored,” Kelley said.

This strategy led Kelley and Price to undertake initiatives across verticals, and make use of traditionally identified backup technology. Applications of the technology included de-duplication within AMP’s primary storage site and its tiering technology.

“[This strategy means] we can more effectively budget and buy storage based on space or performance,” Price said.

Consumer Changes

Kelley and Price both agree that the growth in data stored on consumer devices and many more consumer options for storage means employees search outside the enterprise to find data storage and management solutions. “Those solutions are not always in the best interest of the organization,” Price warned.

It is important for IT managers and directors within organizations of any size need to continue to address the consumer device and the data on it, according to Price. One way this issue is addressed, at AMP, is by providing employees with information.

“Informing staff on common best practices and being able to meet their needs with quick turnaround when business units ask for things is key,” Price said. “If we can provide a solution, the tools and education about those tools, then they won’t need to go outside the organization. It’s about building those relationships between business units and IT.”

Avoiding the Historical Trap

As the IT landscape continues to change, so does the role of the IT professional, Kelley noted. “From month-to-month and year-to-year, there are always new things going on, [which] makes IT exciting,” he said.

Despite this constant evolution, however, it is easy for companies to get trapped in the history of how they do things.

“The historic way we do things should not always be the way it should be done,” Kelley said. For him, to stay relevant means “let’s think different.”

At this moment, it is all about thinking cloud first as a service first strategy Kelley said.

“If you’re not thinking about the cloud and seriously contributing to it, you’re not doing your company or yourself any good and you will get passed by.”

Background

Kelley and Price found themselves involved with computing technology as youngsters. For Kelley, it all started when his parents purchased a TSR-80, Tandy Corporation’s desktop microcomputer. After high school, Kelley enrolled at Shepherd University to study computer science, but left before graduating to work with Safelite on their Y2K Point of Sale compliance project.

Kelley later returned to college, completing his Bachelor of Science at DeVry University, followed by his masters at Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University.

Price too found himself interested in computers and technology soon after his father brought home the first family computer.

“I got into the networking side and found that’s what I really enjoyed,” Price said. Price completed his bachelors and masters at DeVry University as well.

Price likes his job because “At the end of the day," he said, "it’s about being able to excite other people about technology."