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Steve O'Keeffe

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Posted: 10/10/2013 - 5 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Out of Office

Maybe it's gallows humor, but we're getting some pretty amusing out-of-office responses from furloughed Feds. Top three:
Number Three
Ladies and Gentlemen: Due to Congress not passing an appropriations budget I have been placed on furlough. Therefore I cannot answer your emails or assist you in any way. If you need assistance from a government employee during this furlough period please contact your congressman.
Number Two
I am currently unavailable due to the overwhelming incompetence of our elected government officials who have forced 100,000s of us to be mandatorily furloughed. However, should you be one of the fortunate ones still working and being paid, and you need immediate assistance on Knowledge Management issues, please contact...
And Our Winner
I am currently on furlough and prohibited by law from checking my e-mail, so you will not get a response to this message. As opposed to when I am not on furlough, and am just ignoring you.
Don't they say grin and bear it? Hoping we're all back to work next week.
CCX Brainstorm

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Posted: 10/3/2013 - 6 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Tempest in a Teacup?
Elephants and donkeys play chicken. Sequestration and the shutdown are a vice squeezing D.C. It's terrible, but what hasn't been written about this stuff?
How about the knock-on effect on liquidity and interest rates? Uncle Sam just got through the spending binge that is Federal year end. Companies booked revenue – and reported it to Wall Street. But agencies can't process payments because they're shut. That means a cash squeeze for corporate America – talk about collateral damage. Consider most tech companies generate 15-20 percent of their revenue from Feds.
 CCX Brainstorm 
Let's focus locally. Resellers are in a bind. Their agreements with tech companies commit them to deliver revenue in 30 or 45 days. But, they're not getting paid by the Feds. Is a day or even a week delay in processing payment a big deal? Yes, if you're bridging $50 million in orders from last week – and operating on a three-percent margin. Resellers are torn between partners and customers. We'll likely see a thinning of the herd. Smart ISVs and OEMs will find a way to provide relief for their valued partners.
Now consider the payment impact for direct suppliers outside of IT – what if you sold a $1 billion weapons system last week?
CCX Brainstorm
This mess is hurting everybody, and it will only get worse if left unresolved. The credit crunch – and its knock-on impact for Wall Street and our economy – will throw more than a pinch of salt in our economic wounds. If this drags on past October 18, when the U.S. will run out of cash without a rise in the debt limit, we will have the elements in place for a perfect storm. Watch for the price of borrowing to rise – that’ll move against fiscal easing. Pennsylvania Avenue sabotages Main Street. That’s how a tempest in a tea cup can become a tsunami.

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Posted: 9/24/2013 - 4 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Parting the Clouds

Don’t mean to rain on the parade, but what hasn’t been said about cloud computing?

How about are Federal agencies making any real progress in cloud and are we saving any money? That, and the new Cloud Computing Caucus, are on the menu as Fed cloud leaders and the Hill huddle at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on January 16.  

CCX Brainstorm

Cloud First Consumer Guide

So Cloud First made Feds move three apps to the cloud. But, what did they move and how’s it working? Well here’s the Cloud First list from OMB. MeriTalk decided to reach out to the Cloud First app owners at the agencies and find out what’s working. We’ll preview the Cloud First Consumer Guide at a government-only breakfast on January 16, and you’ll have to attend to get in the know.  Government folks sign up here.

Cloud Computing Caucus

Congressmen Issa (R-Ca) and Connolly (D-Va) want to get to grips with Cloud in a more tangible way. That’s why they’re co-chairs for the soon-to-be Cloud Computing Caucus. The caucus will make the Hill geek chic – helping members and staff catch up on cloud cool. I’m not supposed to give away too many details before January 16.  Want more information? Sign up here.

CCX Brainstorm

Cloud Computing Brainstorm

Oh, and I almost forgot, all of this is taking place at the MeriTalk Cloud Computing Brainstorm at the Newseum on January 16. You’ll hear from Dave McClure at GSA on the government-wide cloud forecast. Then Fed cloud experts on FedRAMP, cloud brokering, and public and private hosting options.

We’ve got 200+ Fed cloud experts registered. There are only 20 spots left. Register now or risk getting left out in the rain.

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Posted: 9/12/2013 - 3 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Big Data CliffsNotes

I studied English and Economics in school – but I must confess, sometimes I didn't do all the reading. Sometimes I'd skimp on Joyce and Friedman. Fast forward 25 years, and I've learned to do the homework – but aren't we all looking for a shortcut? For those who want to get Big Smart on Big Data, I'd thoroughly recommend you read Ms. Jean Yan's excellent “Big Data, Bigger Opportunities” whitepaper. It's well researched, written, and sourced. But, for those of you that want your data by the cup, here are the CliffsNotes:

BD's Daddy:  BD ain't new. Doug Laney with META Group – now part of Gartner – coined the BD term in 2001.

Five “V”s:  A lot of folks define BD through the three “V”s – volume, velocity, and variety. Add in two more: veracity – integrity/provenance – and value – usefulness.

Data Explosion:  TechAmerica tells us that 80-90 percent of all existing data was generated in the past two years. The New York Times has generated three billion words since inception – Twitter users generate eight billion words every day.

CCX Brainstorm

Search Surge:  Google Trends show U.S. search interest in BD was up 90 percent between 2011 and March 2013.

Gartner Gauge:  Gartner says government is the hot spot for BD. Gartner predicts worldwide IT spending associated with BD will hit $56 billion by 2016 – that's not just government.

Prez Profile:  The White House formed a BD Steering Committee in 2010 – it identified 17 Federal BD case studies.

CCX Brainstorm

No Cake Walk:  Speed bumps on the BD highway. Challenges include: talent - accent on data scientists - leadership, capacities - that's tech - and, not to be left out, our old friend, budget.

Risky Business:  And, speaking of old friends, here comes cyber security to rain on the BD parade. Yes, security is, and should be, a significant concern. Riding shot gun, we've got the look-before-you-leap factor. We need to be cautious not to attribute cause-and-effect just because data trend in the same direction.

And, now for the big finish. A big thank you to Ms. Jean Yan for the whitepaper. A big hand for the teams at the White House – NITRD – GAO, GSA, and OPM for their respective BD projects. MeriTalk hosts our own Big Data Exchange to bring together BD leaders from across government. We welcome govies on November 6th. And, if you're really interested in making your brain bigger, check out additional BD research reading.

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Posted: 9/4/2013 - 3 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Summer-Saults for Mobility?

That’s it for Summer. Bummer. Sure, Fall’s fun. But then it’s the big W – no, not that W. Even Republicans are relieved he’s not coming back to D.C. So, what do we have to look forward to this Fall? It’s a new Federal year – so farewell to furloughs. Let’s hope Obama and Boehner hug it out – and slay the sequestration serpent. Oh, and as we prep for the big chill, mobility’s warming up Federal productivity. Mark your calendar to join me at the Mobile Work Exchange Town Hall Meeting on September 12th. Despite the change of season, seems Feds are still doing Summer-saults for mobility.

Monetizing Mobility

A new MeriTalk study, “Feds on the Go,” puts mobility in a new light. First, it tells us that better mobile infrastructure could boost Fed productivity by $14,000 per year, per employee. Stay tuned for the how.

MWE Town Hall Meeting

 Mapping Mobility

The study puts new sunshine on Feds’ remote work behaviors. Eighty-one percent of Feds “remote in” weekly, 54 percent daily, and 45 percent connect several times a day. The average Fed puts in nine hours overtime per week – checking their email from outside. And, the laptop’s still the remote work go-to pony – 88 percent fat finger it. Other popular steeds, smartphones and tablets – 53 and 19 percent, respectively. However, while most Feds use laptops, the volume’s certainly much higher on smart devices – that’s a walk versus a gallop.

Maximizing Mobility

Okay, now back to how to unlock $14,000 mobile productivity gains per person. And, this dips beneath the BYOD buzz. It’s about the network nexus. Eighty-two percent dial down on frustration with current connectivity and mobile access – 65 percent are inhibited by slow connections and 57 percent are strangled by security. Seventy percent say they can’t access all of the information they need remotely. Download the full study to get all the stats for success.

MWE Town Hall Meeting

Okay, now for the dismount. Figure many of you are reading on the go. Don’t want the cup to clog your connectivity conduit – so I’ll keep it short. Stop by the Mobile Work Exchange Town Hall Meeting to connect with over 1,000 Fed mobility leaders – including keynote from ATF CIO Rick Holgate, Marine Corps, NRC, USDA, Coast Guard, DHS, and more.

And, don’t shed a tear for Summer. The heat’s on in mobility this Fall – see you on September 12th at the D.C. Convention Center.

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Posted: 8/28/2013 - 4 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

End of the Year as We Know IT

Crazy times. Furloughs froze contracting shops and requiring organizations. Last year's playbook for year-end opportunities is no good. Everybody – inside and outside of government – trying to work out what September will bring. Here's a take on how the Army will close ranks – from a fella who's spent some time in the foxhole.
What's the Net Upfront?
The Army's never turned money back to the Treasury in any significant amount – and it's not going to start this year. That said, there will be no new contracts awarded this fiscal year that haven't already been in the contracting office pipeline. The Army is obligating funds to existing vehicles to the utmost extent, with the exception of those new contracts/TOs/POs that were already in the pipeline. If you've got contracts in place, or contracts/POs/TOs in the queue at a contracting office, you're in good shape. If not – and you can't find a prime to work with – don't expect any year-end windfalls.
Mobile Work Exchange Town Hall Meeting
How'd We Get Here?
Like a hard March frost, sequestration froze everything and dammed up the normal steady contracting and subsequent cash flows from the government to industry. Agencies throttled back on obligating money pending analysis of where to take cuts – up to 50 percent was held back once sequestration hit. And funds stayed locked up until agencies figured out how and where to cut, and how to manage the money that remained. One way to do this was to furlough civilian employees. Agencies did – and this choked off funds obligation further through a reduced work week at both contracting offices and requiring organizations that feed contracting offices. That drove a lot of uncertainty, pent-up demand, and frustration.
Where's the Money?
If organizations cannot spend their money, it'll roll up the chain of command to their higher headquarters, until what's left reaches Agency headquarters. It's the opposite process of what happens at the beginning of a new fiscal year, where money flows down from Agency HQs to subordinate organizations until it reaches the lowest levels. Look up the chain to higher-level organizations in the Agency for end-of-year spending. Primes with existing contracts with HQ organizations are well-positioned to accept this year's money as it flows back up at year end. Look for the Army to apply any large amount of remaining funds that come up to HQs on infrastructure and omnibus contracts – long-haul communications, professional services, and the like.
Cloud Computing Brainstorm
How to Make IT Happen?
In closing, this year-end's opportunity is all about leveraging existing contracts, with HQs the place to focus – and yes, the money will come that way. I'd like everyone to give a shout out to all hard-working and embattled contracting pros – you've been furloughed and now you're in the firing line and on the critical path to completing miracles at Fiscal Year End. The community recognizes that morale is at a new low, and we appreciate everything you do. We all hope next year will be better, at least from a process perspective, as we know the funding and fiscal challenges will continue for the foreseeable future. Thank you for your service and keep up the superb work for our nation.
Gary Winkler is the President of Cyber Solutions & Services, Inc.; former Army PEO for Enterprise Information Systems and Principal Director in Army CIO/G-6.

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Posted: 8/15/2013 - 2 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

You Heard It Here First

Don't we love our jargon in Fed IT? Here's three new buzz phrases to energize and confuse you.

Kill Chain – Cyber security speak. Focus on where you stop an attacker. If you have a fence, a front door, and a safe in the wall – you want to stop the intruder as far away from your valuables as possible. If they can't get over the fence, you've stopped them early in the kill chain. That's the cheapest way to go. And, let's be honest, kill chain sounds really macho, doesn't it? Sort of cyber security special forces...

OODA Loop – No it's not Big Data yodeling. Conceived by military strategist Colonel John Richard Boyd, Observe, Orient, Decide, Act is a circular methodology for better, faster decision making. Genghis John saw action in Korea and passed in 1997. Seems he was a real Big Data pioneer.

DevOps – As the name suggests, DevOps brings software development and production operations into closer proximity. It stresses agile, rapid prototype and fielding – that means no more three year, monolithic build cycles. Give me the bad news quickly and let me adjust course in real time.

And, if a picture's worth a thousand words, this'll be the biggest Cup of IT ever. Take a gander. Tom Soderstrom, NASA JPL CTO, presented this bubble map of 20 minutes in the life of JPL's intrusion detection logs by attacking nation. Greg Elin, Chief Data Officer at FCC, presented this chart of national Internet service provider performance throughout the day. Seems America likes Facebook for dessert. FiOS rocks. Cablevision, not so much.

Some new tech terms and pictures. Perhaps the title should have read, “You Saw It Here First”...


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Posted: 8/8/2013 - 5 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

My Cup of IT: Are You Paid Enough?

Cyber security pros are hot stuff – in the past five years, demand bolted 3.5 times faster than other IT jobs. That’s why the average cyber security pro earns $116,000 a year – or $55.77 an hour. That’s the cabbage count according to the Cyber Census, a new study from Semper Secure, a public-private cyber security partnership stood up by Virginia and hosted in the MeriTalk Cyber Security Exchange. The study is based on a survey of 500 cyber security pros from 40 industries, across 43 states. 
This cup’ll give you the 411 on the study. But, if you want to get beyond the trends and averages to see what other cyber pros with your experience earn, go straight to the Cyber Census Calculator. Based on the survey responses that powered the study, the calculator will get more accurate as more cyber security pros check out their numbers. The calculator’s already famous. So come back again next week for better data.
But It Can’t Sing and Dance and It Can’t Walk
Is it all about money? Not in cyber.  Just 25 percent of cyber pros said high salaries and benefits float their boat.  So, what powers the U.S.S. Cyber?  Fifty-six percent of cyber pros look for challenges. Forty-four percent want to do significant, meaningful work.  And, 39 percent are hooked on the technology. That’s it for nautical references.
Big Data Webinar
Dream Date?
Powerful cyber romance advice for love-sick employers. So, if it’s not all filthy lucre, what turns cyber pros’ heads? Forty-four percent want an employer with a “code of honor” – interesting in the Snowden age. Thirty-four percent want to work for a leader in cyber security. And, here’s that stretch goal again – 33 percent want to work for an organization that pushes the edge.
Sea to Shining Sea
Most cyber pros hug the coast – highest densities are in California and the D.C. metro area. Seems Uncle Sam is the largest employer, directly or indirectly – top verticals, government, manufacturing, and defense/aerospace.
Really Dude?
No greater shocker here – cyber security’s a dude fest – 81 percent of pros are fellas.  We hope to hear from more cyber sirens.
CCX Brainstorm
Cut and Run?
So, what does all this mean for Uncle Sam? How are the sequestration squeeze and flight freeze impacting D.C.’s cyber workforce? Seems Feds are lining up to jump ship – and critical infrastructure providers are scooping the men and women overboard out of the drink. Sorry more maritime metaphors. Mark Morrison, former Deputy Defense CISO, deposited himself as the CISO at State Street Bank. Holly Ridgeway, former CISO at Justice, took her assets to PNC bank, again as CISO. Greg Schaffer, former Assistant Secretary for Cyber and Communications at DHS, transferred himself to the CISO spot at Fidelity National Information Services. And Gil Vega, CISO at Energy just announced he's moving off the government grid. 
If you’re a CIO interested in keeping your cyber security talent or a cyber pro interested in finding out what you’re worth on the open market, check out the new Cyber Census and the Calculator. What’s the downside? You could find out you’re paid too much…

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Posted: 8/1/2013 - 5 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Big Data -- Triple Shot

I was walking down King Street last week and a gentleman asked me how to get to a restaurant. As we chatted, turns out he’s a Fed Big Data expert -- what more proof that Big Data is everywhere or that Feds are still looking for direction? True story.
Data Dive
So, let’s look at the data. Nine out of 10 Fed IT execs note challenges on the path forward. And, those barriers aren’t just a Fed phenomenon -- just 59 percent of state and local agencies are analyzing their data and less than half are using that data to make better decisions. This is according to three recent MeriTalk Big Data studies -- Big Data, Big Brains, the Federal Big Data Gap, as well as the State and Local Big Data Gap. Read on if you’re interested in the government-wide direction, dimensions, and dynamics for the Big Data opportunity.
It’s a triple shot this week -- so pour yourself a venti and pull up a seat.
Federal Forum 2013
Brainiac Bonanza
Let’s start with the half-full picture. According to the government Big Data, Big Brains, Big Data will shift government’s success compass -- empowering Uncle Sam to surf the data deluge. This will allow us to model and analyze problems from start to finish -- unlocking critical decision interdependencies. It will deliver real-time calculations -- to provide immediate what-if projections. It will enable complete data-set projections -- sidestepping sample speculation. Lastly, Big Data will identify causalities -- empowering us to project, decompose, and pull on the threads to change the final picture.
But upbeat as they are, our expert panel notes Uncle Sam has work to do to harness the Big Data Bonanza. Top of the list -- people. Agencies need to recruit data scientists and statisticians. Next up, policy -- Feds need to level data silos and clarify data ownership. And, hardly surprisingly, our old friend budget is putting a damper on things -- agencies will need new IT solutions to make Big Data real. 
Chocolate Coffee Pot?
This next study reminds me of the warning on the Tube back in London. The May 2012 Big Data Gap study told us Feds were three years from a Big Data blossom -- where they could take full advantage of Big Data. So, here’s hoping we’re accelerating to the prize. At that time, just 60 percent of agencies were analyzing the data they collected and 40 percent said they used that data to make strategic decisions.
Interestingly, Feds were unclear on who owns the data -- 42 percent report IT departments are the keepers, 28 percent say it’s owned by the mission,12 percent assert it belongs to agency leadership, and 15 percent assert that data analysts and scientists have dibbs. Yes, that means there are three percent who plain didn’t know.
The State and Local Big Data Gap study, from April of this year, aligns with the Fed study. Only two percent of respondents said their agencies have a Big Data strategy. Some 44 percent haven’t even discussed the topic. Mapping back to the Fed study, just 59 percent of state and local execs are analyzing the data they collect and less than half are using it to make strategic decisions. 
That said, state and local leaders get the big promise. They’re very much in touch with the overall agency efficiency, decision support, and citizen-centric benefit opportunities.
Federal Forum 2013
GAO & CIGIE Stage Recovery
MeriTalk’s Big Data Exchange isn’t the only group doing research on government Big Data. So I guess this is a triple shot with a twist. GAO, the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, and the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board just released a report from their January 2013 Big Data forum. The group drilled down on law enforcement; fraud, waste, and abuse prevention; and government Big Data barriers. Here’s the 411:
  • Blind spots exist -- frequently, government doesn’t know the data it owns
  • Incentive issues -- program offices aren’t motivated to create systems that enable analysis outside the silos
  • Legislative log jams -- jurisdictional barriers make Big Data small potatoes
But the group sparked ideas too. Key concepts -- centralize control to get the big picture, pool open-source resources and tools, as well as a recommendation to focus on quick wins to get support and drive momentum.
The group plans to continue to meet. GAO will brief its report and plans at the upcoming MeriTalk Big Data Exchange Quarterly Meeting on November 6th. Limited seating. Figure the more brains the better. And, yes, we’ll be serving coffee.

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Posted: 7/23/2013 - 4 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Can Software Save IT?

Seems like Fed IT innovators are tied to the rails as the big-iron locomotive careens down the track. A new MeriTalk study, “Innovation Inspiration: Can Software Save IT?,” tells us what we already know - we spend too much money updating and maintaining legacy systems - 79 percent of IT budgets. But, based on a survey of 152 Fed IT execs, the study gives us X-ray vision - providing new insight on the “what?” behind that scary number - as well as the “why?” we’re so challenged to change. But, this isn’t all a doom-and-gloom story - there’s a glimpse of a super-hero option - read on…

Innovation Inspiration Webinar

Mired in the Mundane
Traditional hardware processes are like kryptonite - draining Uncle Sam's time and money. Data center folks spend 33 percent of their time cracking their knuckles, provisioning for and prepping routine events - and a total of 42 percent of their workday performing routine events. Storage and network environments are also huge time draws. That’s why 63 percent of Fed IT execs report that they don’t have enough budget to keep up with required standard maintenance.
Purchasing Pariah
Feds assert today’s acquisition models are Lex Luthor - 54 percent say they can’t buy IT quick enough, with average upgrade cycles at 31 months.
Innovation Inspiration Study
Holy Leveled Silos
Feds propose a software-defined solution. In a software-defined world, data centers' compute, storage, and networking are pooled and elastic. Think of the agility and efficiency of accessing resources anywhere across your agency - or Holy Leveled Silos Batman - among agencies. This is the secret sauce in cloud. Beyond Software-Defined Networking, Feds are thirsting for the agility of software-defined Everything - IT-as-a-Service. Approximately one half of respondents assert software-defined models will unlock cost and performance improvements.
Man of Software
More than a comic book fantasy, the software shift is real in government today. Twenty-six percent of Feds have a transition roadmap. More concrete, 65 percent have implemented some software-defined servers.
First step in your super-hero transformation, download the study - then find a telephone box. Ironically, Uncle Sam. the IT super hero, is a man of software - not a man of steel.

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Posted: 7/10/2013 - 8 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

 Conference in the Cloud

Federal IT conferences are going down like ninepins as Uncle Sam tightens his belt. So, tell me something I don't know Steve.

Well buckle your seat belt...


D.C. No-Fly Zone

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., just introduced a new bill to change Feds' flight patterns.  HR. 2643 pushes videoconferencing and telework as plane replacements.  Here's the flight manifest. It drafts on the Prez's November 2011 E.O. 13589, OMB's May 2012 travel trouncer, and the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. If enacted, Fitzpatrick's D.C. no-fly zone would require agencies to report their travel savings to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in six months. Hats off to the Congressman and his fellow co-sponsors for introducing a bill that makes good business sense. The implications could be profound - and we're not just talking about the dough. Think more about carbon footprints, productivity, collaboration, training, and overall work-life balance. 

Conference in the Cloud

And speaking of training, here's a new arrival. MeriTalk is launching a new Conference in the Cloud. Why? Grounded Feds are losing their IT credentials. If you think education is expensive - try ignorance. How are our IT pilots going to fly new tech without training?

That's why MeriTalk's collaborating with a squadron of Federal agencies to host the first government Conference in the Cloud. No, it's not a virtual conference - doesn't virtual mean pretend? It's a multi-channel, interactive IT hoedown. Here's a chance for Feds to refuel on education credits, learn about the latest and greatest gizmos, and use the network to network with your peers. And, all Feds can get a seat at the Conference in the Cloud - not just those in D.C.

If you want to learn more about the new MeriTalk Conference in the Cloud, please send me a note.  

Guess it's time to stop the cloud talk - and walk the cloud walk. No walking required. 

Ironic that the best place to see the cloud is not an aeroplane seat. No reason to power off electrical devices for this journey. 

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Posted: 6/27/2013 - 6 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Paula Deen and Big Data?

If Big Data were a celebrity chef, I can't work out if it'd be Paula Deen or Rachael Ray. All calories, cholesterol, and color commentary, or cute, affordable, and nutritious? As appetizing aromas waft from the vendor-hype kitchens, everyone wants to know what's on Uncle Sam's Big Data menu?  But, in a government that's short on funds and tired of empty metaphors, let's cut to brass tacks - how much can Big Data save Feds?

MeriTalk just released a new study - Smarter Uncle Sam: The Big Data Forecast. According to feedback from 150 Fed IT execs, better analysis and decision making could slash 14 percent of total Federal spending - that's $500 billion. Remember, Big Data's not just about IT efficiency - it impacts the whole enchilada, from Diversity to DoD. And, cutting beneath the bottom line, the vast majority of Fed IT leaders assert Big Data's not all big talk - 69 percent think it'll make Sam smarter.

Big Plans
Most Feds aren't doing Big Data today. Just one quarter of Fed IT execs have launched a Big Data initiative. Top investment areas - more storage, greater bandwidth, and enhanced data mining.

Big Squeeze
Why have three of four sat on their hands? Money, honey - just 31 percent believe their agency has enough money to fund Big Data.

META-phorically Speaking
Considering strategic priorities, Feds want better meta data - recommending we tag and analyze about 45 percent of all agency data. Tying Big Data to mission, 51 percent said it will improve processes and efficiency, 44 percent flag security benefits, and 31 percent predict better trend prediction.

Big Bust
The study looks beyond Big Data, to provide insight on the Big Bust - mapping Feds’ take on today's sequestration casualties. What's getting amputated? Training, hardware, and software upgrades, as well as new app development. Download the study for the stats on casualties. No wonder vendors are challenged to make quota - seems we're eating our own children.

As we wrestle with ever more constrained budgets, we need to prioritize. Fifty-one percent of Feds assert Big Data will help improve government processes and efficiency. And, with little appetite for new investment, seems Feds will need to cook their own Big Data brisket, bruschetta, or blancmange...

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Posted: 6/20/2013 - 6 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

As if there weren't enough acronyms in Fed IT - here's a new one for you, ESPCs - or Energy Savings Performance Contracts. So, what is an ESPC and what does it have to do with the stalled FDCCI initiative? Well, let's start with FDCCI. It's a chicken-or-egg conundrum. We need to invest in order to realize savings. However, there's no money to invest, so there are no savings. Capiche?
Incidentally, Uptime Institute estimates that energy bills constitute 12 percent of data center operating costs. That's a lot of hamburgers.
Hang on to your hat - more acronyms. ESPCs are contract vehicles that finance energy savings projects without upfront capital investments and without Congressional appropriations. Energy Service Companies - ESCOs - conduct energy audits, identify improvements, and design energy savings projects. ESCOs also arrange financing and guarantee that cost savings will be sufficient to pay for the project. The ESCOs get paid out of the savings. Cost savings accrue to the agency after the contract expires. Sounds like free money for a Federal government that's cash strapped - and hell bent on delivering tangible savings. What's not to like?  
Cyber Security Brainstorm
DoE's Federal Energy Management Program has 16 ESCOs under an IDIQ contract. These contracts have traditionally been used to finance lighting and air conditioning modernization. Now Feds are interested in using them to break the impasse on OMB's FDCCI mandate...
Here's the irony.  It seems that OMB is holding up the ESPC award for the first-ever data center consolidation project - to be clear, understand this is the B side not the M side - Steven VanRoekel has publicly expressed support for ESPCs. See this letter from Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Cyber Security Brainstorm
Fixing the Roof in FDCCI?
ESPCs are not new, they're just new to IT. Here's how it works. Schneider Electric, one of those 16 ESCOs, is modernizing the U.S. Coast Guard facilities in Puerto Rico. It's fixing leaking roofs - and at the same time installing solar panels - at no cost to the government. The Coast Guard gets out of the rain and access to cheaper power generated by the solar panels and pays for the improvements with the savings they generate.
Considering FDCCI progress to date - as highlighted in recent House and Senate hearings - seems we could all use a little relief from the rain. Sunshine and cheaper power seem like powerful medicine for Uncle Sam. Now apply that ESPC difference in IT - and everybody goes home a winner. What say you, OMB?

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Posted: 6/13/2013 - 6 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

White House and Cyber Security Crackerjacks

Cyber's all firecrackers. Mandiant pointed the finger east - but will it inhibit public-private information sharing? Uncle Sam's supply chain's under scrutiny - is that really Intel inside? The Hill's flexing - will Wolf's Section 516 make NASA, Justice, Commerce, and NSF iPad-free zones? And, as if that's not enough, we're all going to PRISM - as Snowden challenges Assange on the tin whistle.
So, what's ahead - and how does the President view the cyber frontier? Earl Crane, Director for Federal Cybersecurity, National Security Staff at the White House, will provide an Oval Office view on Federal cyber security when he keynotes at the Cyber Security Brainstorm on July 24. We're chasing EOP with a shot of DHS cyber leadership - Bobbie Stempfley on the operational view. Then dive into the sessions - and it's all crackerjacks.
CMaaS 411
Will continuous monitoring succeed? Hear from Jeff Eisensmith, CISO, DHS; Gil Vega, CISO, Energy; and Dr. Ron Ross at NIST.
Moving Target
How to get a better grip on mobile? Hear from Dr. Mark Althouse, senior mobility tech director, NSA; Major Linus Barloon II, White House Communications Agency; and Greg Youst, chief mobility engineer/CTO, DISA.
Offensive Defense
What's new in threats - and is a good offense really the best defense? Hear from Rear Admiral Robert E. Day, Jr., Coast Guard Cyber Command; Mike Krieger, Deputy CIO, Army; and Eric Rosenbach, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy, DoD.
All that, and leading Federal cyber security awards program.
With more than 300 government registered, we're feeling pretty secure about the turnout. There are only 50 seats left - don't wait around to register. Hope to see you on the 24th.

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Posted: 6/6/2013 - 5 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Network Not Work?

Fed IT's all change. Cloud. Big Data. Mobility. Everybody wants more for less, or the same for much, much less. More devices, more applications, and more mandates riding government systems. Who's getting squeezed in Uncle Sam's IT makeover? First, it's IT pros - we got that. But, next in line is the network - the glue that holds IT together. If the network's not working, nothing's getting done.
So, if you're a Fed network pro - or FedNetPro - you're really on the rack. Like some game of high-stakes Twister, you have to put your left foot on mobility, your right arm on security, a knee into data center consolidation, and you bet your arse on the thin electronic line that connects everything together. One mistake and IT goes from Twister to Operation.
But hey, money talks and rubbish walks. Consider that Uncle Sam will spend $54 billion this year maintaining the steady state. Thirty percent of that budget funds network operations - back of the envelope, that's $16 billion. So, how do we get better for our money? What about new ideas? Based on a recent 1105 study there seems to be an appetite for change.
That's why we're hosting the MeriTalk Federal Forum on August 6 at the Ronald Reagan Building. The program focuses on the Future of Federal Agency Networks. An opportunity for FedNetPros to wind down and bone up. Get the latest on Big Data, virtualization, data centers, and software-defined networking. Our keynote speaker is Terry Halvorsen, Navy CIO. Other confirmed speakers include Bernie Mazer, CIO, Interior; Xavier Hughes, CIO, Labor; Wolf Tombe, CTO, CBP, DHS; Dr. Michael Valivullah, CTO, NASS, USDA; and many more. So this is the straight skinny from other FedNetPros - no stretching the truth.
Net, think 3-2-1. Three tracks, one each for the policy maker, the network manager, and those perfectly fluent in network techspeak. Two breakout sessions for each track, built around government professionals and bona-fide technology experts. And, we know you're stretched - for time and money. So, the program's compressed to one day in one location. It's in D.C. - cutting down on travel for locals. We start at 8 a.m. - you're done by 3 p.m. And, it's free to government agencies. 
Space is limited - pretty sure we can squeeze you in - register today. For FedNetPros, with FedNetPros, by FedNetPros. Hope to see you at the Federal Forum. 

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Posted: 5/30/2013 - 5 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Cicada Sushi?

The consumerization of IT in D.C. is like the 17-year cicadas. Lots of hype. But, so far, crickets. As BlackBerrys go down like flies in other markets -Feds are still infested. Mobile Work Exchange - MeriTalk's sister organization - decided to dissect OMB’s Digital Government Strategy to understand Uncle Sam's mobile metamorphosis - give it up for Kafka.
The study, titled “Digital Government Strategy: A Moving Target,” is based on a survey of a swarm of Fed IT execs who are dialed into their agencies' mobile plans. Here's the flyby on the findings. Net upfront - if mobility is sushi, Feds like sushi.
Feds are twisting and shouting about the benefits of mobility. Forty-eight percent point to communication benefits. Forty-seven percent flag productivity gains. Thirty-three percent cite advances in customer service delivery. Mobility's a game changer.
Crawling the Crawl:
Agencies are making progress in mobilization, but behind on enterprise inventories of mobile devices and wireless service contracts. The Strategy required all agencies to audit by November 2012. Only 59 percent understood their inventory by April 2013. On the upside, 52 percent note that their agency's mobility strategy has matured in the last year - and 43 percent gave their agencies' efforts to comply with the Strategy an A or B grade.
So, if mobility's boosting performance, what's zapping our progress? No shocker here. Top three issues - 73 percent say security, 60 percent say budget, and 42 percent point to policy barriers. And, Feds are taking a different path to mobile security than corporations - leading with training over tech. Sixty-five percent of Feds say their employees receive mobile security training - which means 35 percent don't. Sixty-eight percent of agencies provide written mobile security information to their employees - which means that 32 percent don't.
And, what of the automated bug swatters? While 58 percent tell us their agency has implemented encryption, only 35 percent say they have multi-factor authentication for mobile devices. Just 32 percent have remote lock and wipe control. Implementation of automated mobile management software is rising. Forty-three percent say their agencies use automated software updates, but only 16 percent have installed full mobile application management. Interesting, Feds anticipate significant mobile management tech investment by 2015.
Change on the Wing:
Feds tell us there's a good deal of development in progress - scholarships, benefits look up, and weather alerts prominent customer facing mobile apps. And, agencies are starting to get to grips with write once use many - nine percent have internal mobile app stores.
While a senior Fed cyber security exec recently referred to BYOD as Bring Your Own Disaster, Feds are upbeat about BYO. Forty percent of Feds say that they're either operating BYOD today - or anticipate implementing in the next 24 months. Feds tell us we need a coherent reimbursement policy for BYOD to really hatch.
Seems the Digital Government Strategy chefs at OMB have a winning recipe. You can access Feds' reviews here. Mobility's mouthwatering. Now, let's see about those cicadas...

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Posted: 5/9/2013 - 7 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

House Hearing - FDCCI And Cloud Get Skooled

OMB promised $3 billion in FDCCI savings by 2015. Cloud was to reset IT economics. It's time to separate the talk from the truth. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Mica and Ranking Member Connolly are holding a hearing on May 14 at 2:30 p.m. to call in the marker. OGR Chairman Issa has a strong hand in the proceedings - significant implications for FITARA. GSA tells us that we've shuttered 420 data centers. Longitude and latitude - but no dollar-savings data. So, the law makers want to know how much we have saved. What are the bottom-line benefits? Which agencies are doing it right? What do we need to accelerate savings?
Considering cloud, the Hill wants to know what's with the traffic jam on FedRAMP?
Given the topics, it's a pity neither OMB nor GSA can make the hearing...
The IT police at GAO are releasing a new report - “Data Center Consolidation, Strengthened Oversight Needed to Achieve Cost Savings Goal.” MeriTalk's also releasing a new study - “The FDCCI Big Squeeze.”
Here's who's testifying:
-Bernie Mazer, CIO, Department of Interior, and co-chair of the Federal CIO Council FDCCI Taskforce
-Dave Powner, Director, IT Management Issues, GAO
-Teresa Carlson, VP Public Sector, Amazon Web Services
-Kenyon Wells, VP of U.S. Federal, CGI
-And, yours truly
We're all going to school to learn about IT cost savings - and the current state of play on FDCCI and cloud - so it's only fitting that the hearing takes place at George Mason University. Hosted in Connolly's district, the setting underlines the Congressman's commitment to data center optimization.
Federal IT operators are working hard to deliver results in the sequestration squeeze. There's no new money to fund data center closures and the cloud transition - and they're not free.
Hope you can join us. Space is limited - so plan to arrive early.

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Posted: 5/2/2013 - 5 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

CIO Council - VanRoekel's Version 

While the flash and sizzle of Vivek's velocity have fizzled, the Federal CIO Council has not stalled. Here's the skinny on VanRoekel's version - it's insightful to get a peak inside the tent.
Dynamic Duo - SS&SS
The CIO Council's getting beyond IT. Bigger than the IT function, Strategic Sourcing is all about better procurement. Headed by Joe Jordan at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, the Strategic Sourcing working group brings together agency leadership, procurement officers, and yes of course, CIOs.
And, running alongside Strategic Sourcing, we have the other big bet - Shared Services. Yes, this is where cloud and FDCCI hype meets cold-hard steel. This is the CIO Council's response to GAO's duplicate systems report - Uncle Sam certainly doesn't need 777 supply chain or 600+ HR systems. And, speaking of reports, the CIO Council is working on a report of its own on Shared Services - it's all about how to go from talk to transactions. The truth of the matter is that Shared Services success is all about leadership - that's code for conflicts among agency CIOs, component CIOs, and agency mission owners. Yes, there's pain ahead.
No one can ignore the allure of mobile computing - cost efficiencies and popular acclaim. The CIO Council's engaged with NIST, DoD, and NSA to drive use-case architectures for mobility. Logically, the working group’s looking at security - HSPD-12 app anyone? - and BYOD/policy. Mobile development's another key focus - how do we get government to write native mobile apps, rather than bolt them on later?
As the tech's moving so fast, Feds don't want to buy the cow - they're more interested in getting their mobile milk as a service. And, speaking of milk as a service, Shared Services is getting an early start in mobility. The CIO Council's looking hard at how to deliver a mobile shared service - before agencies build out their own redundant platforms.
Continuous Monitoring
John Streufert's not trying to take the hill on his own. The CIO Council's hosting a Continuous Monitoring working group. Chaired by Jeff Eisensmith at DHS and Kevin Dulany at DoD, the group's meeting every fortnight. With 150 participants from across government, it's clear there's strong interest in the new security paradigm.
CIOpedia - Best Practices
All sounds good - but don't forget the block-and-tackle information sharing. How's the CIO Council helping new recruits that don't speak government IT? The CIO Council has set up a best-practice exchange to help bring new Feds up to speed. And yes, it features a wiki - CIOpedia, structured in 13 segments. This government-only resource comes online in June.
Pub With No Beer?
It's difficult to talk about the CIO Council without asking about the viability of agency CIOs' authority and control. Shared Services and Strategic Sourcing certainly aren't gimmies. Mr.VanRoekel has some impressive initiatives and working groups in place. That said, the CIO Council without empowered, motivated CIOs is like the pub with no beer - who'd want to come back?

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Posted: 4/23/2013 - 5 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Heavens Above - Augmented Reality

Some idiot saw the World Wide Web in Santa Cruz in 1993. He sniffed, who's ever going to want this toy? That idiot was yours truly. Twenty years older - and perhaps a few wiser - I'm not going to look another gift horse in the teeth. Sorry Cassandra.

Can You Hear Me Major Tom?

Tom Soderstrom, CTO at NASA JPL, tech clairvoyant and all-around good guy, presented to the Big Data Exchange in December. Fascinating stuff, but at the end of his presentation, he flashed the gathered big data big brains a glimpse of the future - Augmented Reality. If you haven't heard of AR, rest assured you will.

Help Me Obi-Wan Kenobi, You're My Only Hope

Remember the first Star Wars - or as my kids tell me the fourth Star Wars? R2D2 - don't think I need to spell out that acronym - plays the hologram video of Luke's sister - please keep that a secret - asking for help. Well, that's AR - and while hologram video's just around the corner, the video AR's here today.

Buckle Up

But seeing is believing. Want to try it for yourself? iOS and Droid only, sorry Berrys. Click here to download Layar - it's a free AR app. Print this page. Then point your smart phone camera at the page. You'll see Mobile Work Exchange's very own Princess Leia - Cindy Auten - welcoming you to the April 30th Town Hall Meeting. Mobile Work Exchange is MeriTalk's sister organization. If it's too much to print and point, just go ahead and register for the Mobile Work Exchange Town Hall Meeting - join 1,000 other Federal mobile maniacs. You can just point your phone at the program guide to beam up to AR.

The program has celestial "mobilenauts" as speakers, including keynotes Tonya Schreiber, Deputy CAO at FEMA; Kevin Cox and Robert Palmer from the Mobile Technology Tiger Team for the Federal CIO Council; and Major General Robert E. Wheeler, Deputy CIO for C4IIC at the DoD. Orbit the full program guide online here. It's all about transforming the Federal government with mobile IT and telework - register to attend now.

It's Life Jim...

Okay, enough space travel, let's try time travel for the dismount. What has this idiot learned since 1993 - don't sweat the application. Just jump on and buckle in to the tech rocket - some bright spark will define the mission. I've had a few conversations with AR astronauts - they've got some doozies. Only real chance of cratering - terrestrial thinking. AR - brace yourself, 3-2-1, we have ignition...

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Posted: 4/18/2013 - 13 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Inspired or Ex-Spired?

I come here not to praise Richard Spires, but to bury the Federal CIO...

DHS is a tough place to work - some say toxic. Richard Spires is not dead. I don't know all the details associated with his leave status – but the way that our community has chased rumors and reported half news is shameful. The allegation as I understand it, he created a hostile work environment – what does that mean at DHS? What I do know is that Richard Spires worked tirelessly to put sound business practices in place at an agency that is pulled in many directions by conflicting priorities and yes, dare I say it, egos. He wrestled to rope and tie the $5.8 Billion IT beast – to break silos, enhance mission support, and realize real cost savings. And, despite his hectic calendar, Richard Spires made time early and late to explain the business case.

I've often criticized OMB, GSA, and yes, even DHS for failing to follow through on bold IT reform statements. But, Richard Spires’ leave status makes me wonder if the whole IT reform agenda is merely an illusion. Does anybody in IT really have any control? FCW reports that Spires clashed with DHS components as he tried to centralize control of IT – and that Janet Napolitano backed the components. If agency leadership isn't going to back IT, how are we ever to make any change?

Let's consider IT reform initiatives a foot. Jeff Zients' latest memo tags empowering the CIO as the first step for changing IT outcomes. FITARA and S.801 fancy bulking up the CIO role – providing for executive control over the IT spend. Doesn't Clinger-Cohen already provide this authority? If the Hill wants to change the failing IT equation – and really give the tax payer more for Uncle Sam's $80 Billion IT spend – shouldn't they do something about Richard Spires?

Again, I don't know any more details on the factors that precipitated Richard Spires’ leave status. I do know Richard Spires and I do know it's a high-stress work environment. And, one thing I know for sure – no Federal CIO is going to step up and assert control over IT, no matter the "legislative empowerment," over Richard Spires' dead body. Rather than diminish his stature, it seems to me Richard Spires’ fall makes him the most interesting and relevant executive in Federal IT reform. Inspired not ex-Spired.

Consolidation, Shared Services, and Strategic Sourcing are divisive, difficult issues. In most cases, someone walks away with less than they want – even when everyone walks away with more. They simply aren't going to make everybody happy. 

Given the timing for Richard Spires going on leave – the net takeaway is that IT reform and Federal CIOs should beware the ides of March...

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