PNNL's Strategic Vision for Advancing Science and Security

Deputy CIO Jerry Cochran on Cloud-First, AI-Driven Innovation
Jerry Cochran, deputy CIO and divisional director, PNNL, and CyberEdBoard member

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is one of the 17 national laboratories and research organizations working directly under the United States Department of Energy. It focuses on scientific discoveries that bolster national security and sustainability goals of the federal government. The future of its technology is anchored in six strategic imperatives, namely:

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  • Digital transformation for business and research through data management;
  • Human-centric design;
  • Leveraging cloud computing and hyper-converged infrastructure for enhanced user experience;
  • Embracing AI for insights;
  • Building a foundation for digital instrumentation for research;
  • Staying up-to-date on cybersecurity advancements.

Blending traditional engineering mindset with a user-centric approach, PNNL is on the path to becoming a cloud-first, AI-driven organization. By February 2023, PNNL had migrated all of its business services to the Microsoft Azure cloud, reducing its data center footprint. Already ahead on its AI journey with a "Center for AI," it announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft in January 2024 to use AI and cloud infrastructure to accelerate innovation in chemistry science.

"In the long run, we aspire to run technology with a 'platform-as-a-service' approach. AI/ML has always been a strong muscle for us," said Jerry Cochran, deputy CIO and divisional director, PNNL. "PNNL even shared a tiger team across the DOE to publish a guidance paper on responsible use of AI. But we believe that innovation and creativity should remain a human endeavor assisted by AI."

In this video interview with Information Security Media Group, Cochran also discussed:

  • PNNL's road map for a cloud-first organization;
  • Technology challenges faced by a research organization;
  • The importance of risk-based, assumed-breach concepts for better cybersecurity posture.

At PNNL, Cochran is responsible for the integration of two key IT functions that enable agility and innovation in designing, deploying and operating hybrid multi-cloud IT services for its hybrid workplace. He is a member of the CyberEdBoard.

About the Author

Rahul Neel Mani

Rahul Neel Mani

Founding Director of Grey Head Media and Vice President of Community Engagement and Editorial, ISMG

Neel Mani is responsible for building and nurturing communities in both technology and security domains for various ISMG brands. He has more than 25 years of experience in B2B technology and telecom journalism and has worked in various leadership editorial roles in the past, including incubating and successfully running Grey Head Media for 11 years. Prior to starting Grey Head Media, he worked with 9.9 Media, IDG India and Indian Express.

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