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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.
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.
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.
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”...
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.
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.
No greater shocker here – cyber security’s a dude fest – 81 percent of pros are fellas. We hope to hear from more cyber sirens.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why have three of four sat on their hands? Money, honey - just 31 percent believe their agency has enough money to fund Big Data.
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.
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...
ESPCs and FDCCI
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.
ESPCs, ESCOs, and FEMP
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?
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.
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?
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.
Will continuous monitoring succeed? Hear from Jeff Eisensmith, CISO, DHS; Gil Vega, CISO, Energy; and Dr. Ron Ross at NIST.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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?
Heavens Above - Augmented Reality
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.
Inspired or Ex-Spired?
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...
SDN – Infrastructure to Go?
What does IT really need? “A new TLA,” I hear you cry. After cloud and big data, seemed we’d consigned our old friend to the obit pages. But wait, it appears there’s still a spark of life in the old girl. Enter SDN – Software Defined Networking. It’s poised to both turn IT economics upside down and ensure nobody in the real world has any idea what we’re all rabbiting on about.
Here’s the skinny. SDN makes large enterprise and cloud networks cheaper and easier to run – it’s like virtualization for the network. And, it makes the network more nimble – accelerating time to delivery and putting the brakes on cost for fielding new applications. It promises to cut our addiction to expensive switches, routers, and software. Read more here – but best I can tell, it comes down to open vs. proprietary and software vs. hardware.
Metrics & Meaning
But a few stats are worth a thousand blandishments. Not disinterested SDN evangelist trumpet that organizations can lop a cool half mill off set up and running cost for a rack of 40 blade servers – FDCCI anyone? And, try this on for size – a chance to cut 50 percent off your networking bill.
The Federal Case
If SDN performs like the package, the payoff could be huge. Let’s say networking accounts for 10-15 percent of the total IT budget. Cutting that figure in half could save Uncle Sam $6 billion off the top – $80 Billion x 15 percent = $12 Billion, x 50 percent = $6 Billion.
Blood in the Network
No wonder Cisco’s chagrined… As Cisco and other “swouter” – switch/router – giants gnash, Brocade and VMware taste blood in the network. Anthony Robbins’ rowdies snapped up Vyatta and Aileen Black’s backers dropped a cool $1.3 Billion for Nicira. So be on the lookout for an SDN pitch in a mailbox near you.
Three questions for the dismount:
1. Bling Thing – Will SDN live up to the early hype?
2. Switch Sides – Will Cisco, Juniper, and the like turn cannibal to assuage the carnage?
3. Federal Franchise – How quickly can Uncle Sam cash in?
Register now for the MeriTalk Federal Forum focused on the Future of Federal Networks – August 6th at Reagan Building. Learn where we’re headed and how to save – coz savings make Uncle Sam happy.
No tea last week, so here’s a double pour - or a full teapot to be more accurate. And, be careful, it's hot.
OMB launched a data center consolidation initiative in 1995. Clearly that was a huge success...
Did anybody else see OMB's March 27th memo? The title certainly was designed to bury it - "Fiscal Year 2013 PortfolioStat Guidance: Strengthening Federal IT Portfolio Management." Seems FDCCI is dead again - and it's not the only Fed IT accountability casualty.
Don't be put off by the length of the memo - pages 8 to 11 are an addendum, you don't need to read it to get the gist. And, if you don't have time to read the memo, I quote from it extensively - consider this the Cliffs Notes.
Where to start? Let's go with page one. "The results of the PortfolioStat so far have been significant - agencies identified and committed to nearly 100 opportunities to consolidate or eliminate commodity IT." Who? What? How much? When? In this era of open government, would it be reasonable to expect OMB to publish the list? I'll return to this theme time and again.
"Evidence suggested that many agencies are managing IT in a decentralized manner, missing opportunities to leverage enterprise scale and leading to inefficiencies and duplication in the allocation of IT resources." And this is new news - how? Believe OMB raised these issues with the abacus.
FDCCI -- Under the Carpet?
OMB's pushing together PortfolioStat with FDCCI. The memo tells us FDCCI is supposed to close 40 percent of Uncle Sam's data centers by FY2015. It asserts that agencies closed 420 data centers by February 2013. Congratulations to OMB and GSA - there’s even a site that lists the closures. It’s not listed in the memo, but should be. It tells us the latitude and longitude of the defunct data centers – but sadly not the hard cost savings associated with the closures.
And, here's the kicker in the very next paragraph. "To more effectively measure the efficiency of an agency's data center assets, effective immediately, agency progress under the FDCCI will no longer be solely measured by closures." Wow. And, it gets better. The new yard stick is TCO. But, OMB will not make public its TCO model - open government anybody?
"To enable this [efficiency measurement], the FDCCI Task Force shall develop energy, facility, labor, storage, virtualization, and cost per operating system metrics." Wow. Again, how far are we into this FDCCI thing? Yes, it kicked off in February 2010. And OMB says we have no metrics? Don't they know there's no point in looking at energy costs - data center owners don't pay the bill... And again, we know OMB already has a data center TCO model.
Rearranging the Deck Chairs...
Intel 286 chip anybody? The memo contains the acronym IRM. We're supposed to be going forward. I haven't heard anybody use IRM since Karen Evans weighed anchor at EOP... Maybe it's part of the '80s revival?
The "new data collection" approach looks suspiciously like the old data collection approach - except the lines have been moved to give the illusion of movement. The Integrated Data Collection process promises a cornucopia of new intelligence and insight on agencies' progress in saving money - the baby's due May 15th. But hold the cigars - haven't we heard this stuff time and time again? Is it me, or is the reveal always a disappointment?
And here's the classic rebaseline. Agencies no longer need to report commodity IT consolidation plans under PortfolioStat or as part of the Enterprise Roadmap. And, saving the best for last - no more FDCCI reports.
Each April 30, agencies are required to "provide the Federal CIO with a written certificate with a listing of all cloud services that an agency determines cannot meet the FedRAMP security authorization requirements with appropriate rationale and proposed resolution." Apparently this too will be rolled into the Integrated Data Collection initiative. Will this list be public? What are the implications of failing to do this? What if the required cloud services are not available under FedRAMP? Does it apply to private clouds? Is DoD going to play ball?
Definition of Insanity
Assume the same behavior and expect a different outcome. OMB's recommendations to realize real efficiencies and cost savings:
-Empower CIOs - we all hope FITARA and/or S.801 can succeed where Clinger Cohen failed
-Strengthen IT Portfolio Governance - does anybody remember CPIC and EVM? I’m actually speaking at the CPIC Forum
-Advanced Service Delivery - which agencies are doing this? How much have they saved?
TQM, BPR, Zero-based Budgeting - sounds like the same old cocktail that gave us the hangover in the first place.
Mark Your Calendar
And, here's the dismount, mark your calendars:
-May 15th - Agencies will submit to OMB draft versions of their IRM Strategic Plans and Roadmaps
-June 19th - OMB will "complete its analysis, use the data submitted by agencies to prepare metrics used at PortfolioStat sessions, determine the state of an agency's IT portfolio management, share feedback with the agencies, and develop an agenda tailored to the unique findings of each agency"
-July 31st - Agency PortfolioStat leads will take a two-hour PortfolioStat review session. And, everybody’s invited - COO, CIO, CFO, CAO, CHCO, PIO. Inclusive is a good thing. Goal to review the draft Strategic IRM Plan, Enterprise Roadmap, and the first Integrated Data Collection report
-August 31st, November 30th, February 18th and the last day of each quarter thereafter - agencies shall update their Integrated Data Collection reports
“No later than two weeks after the transmittal to Congress of the President’s Budget for FY2015, agencies shall document and catalog successes, challenges, and lessons learned through the process, submit a consolidated document to OMB, and update their IRM Strategic Plan.”
Will these documents ever see the light of day?
Blah, Blah, Woof, Woof
The net takeaway - other than the Big-Bang theory, which is beyond my ken, from nothing comes nothing. We need to listen to the operators in the agencies to understand how to reprioritize Federal IT to make a real difference. It's not about handing down mandates. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. We know that there’s no new money to invest in Fed IT - so we need to generate savings from the existing base in order to reinvest to make a difference. FDCCI’s dead, like its ancestor in 1995. Dare I ask, what about the promised $3 billion in FDCCI savings by 2015?
The smart kids will wait OMB out. You just have to wait a year or two, and they’ll change their minds.
Sixteen Candles with Molly Ringwald
It’s that time again - happy birthday to me.
We invite you to join us to celebrate 16 years of O’Keeffe & Company, MeriTalk’s sister organization.
And, just to make sure you don’t forget our sweet 16, we’ve invited Molly Ringwald in for the bash.
“What’s happening hot stuff?” Yes, that Molly Ringwald. "Underpants - girl’s underpants." The Molly Ringwald. "I can’t believe this. My parents f***ing forgot my birthday." That girl.
So if you’re a jock or a geek, remember, this is a great social opportunity for us. Join us to raise a glass at Ireland’s Four Provinces in Falls Church, Va on May 16. All the cool kids are coming. Register now to secure your spot.
We’ll be rockin’ the ‘80s tunes. We can’t guarantee Jake Ryan, but we can guarantee Oliver Ryan. Hang on to your underpants.
Go ahead, make a wish. 16 candles. 16 years. 16 ozs. It already came true.
Deus Ex Machina
As the conclave considers, all eyes look for the cloud of white smoke. Fear not, this cup’s not a cloud sermon.
Like the Holy Roman Church, Fed IT is looking for salvation. Cardinals Issa, Carper, and Connolly are driving reformation legislation. Having set aside the heretic 25 Commandments, OMB’s looking for Deus Ex Machina - a painless way to cut cost. A new MeriTalk study, "Infrastructure Independence: Set My IT Free," offers a new path to the promised land. The title even sounds like Moses doesn’t it? Based on a survey of Fed CIOs and IT managers, the study parts the sea of trouble - pointing to the potential for $15.8 billion in savings from greater network diversity.
Virtues of Variety
The study tells us most everybody’s reading off the same hymn sheet - 95 percent of Fed IT leaders see the benefits of riding more than one IT infrastructure horse. Forty-five percent believe more providers are better as they drive down acquisition cost. It’s amazing what you can negotiate.
Paradox of Faith
While most Fed IT folks have diversity religion, fully 41 percent confess that their agency has not considered introducing additional manufacturers into their network infrastructure. Blasphemous as it may be, 5 percent of agencies report a “monoplatform” theology.
Sins of Commission?
If we know what’s right, why are we doing what’s wrong? Fingers point to acquisition. Seventy-six percent of Fed IT leaders report their agency’s procurements sometimes specify a manufacturer. Again, why? Sixty-five percent justify this bigotry as it ensures compatibility with existing infrastructure, 17 percent say it’s driven by management preference, and 11 percent say a single-supplier approach saves time.
So, let’s go deeper - what’s spurring the sinning? Forty-two percent believe diversity will impede network performance. A significant number believe there’s no way out - 30-40 percent heap the shame on vendor lock in.
And, it’s tough to get on the road to righteousness - 47 percent of agencies test new equipment in a production environment built in their current infrastructure.
The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth
But Fed IT’s not necessarily condemned. Apostles for change exist within our ranks. Ninety-four percent of agencies with diverse network infrastructures report savings. Download the study to get religion.
Word from inside the conclave is that the Vatican’s embracing diversity. Seems Fed IT could benefit from a broad-church approach. Perhaps it’s time to switch direction? Amen brother.
Like a fossil from Jurassic Park, Yahoo's trying to make telework extinct. Ironic that Marissus Mayosaurus should hatch this week as workplace evolution's on the march. Next week is Telework Week (TW), run by MeriTalk's sister organization Mobile Work Exchange. More than 106,000 warm-blooded folks have already pledged to telework. Some warmer blooded than others. Australia's government's down - or down under - with TW. TW's really global. Goes to show Men at Work don't have to be in the office.
Yahoo to Boohoo
So, while Yahoo's crying - and Silicon Valley's tech leaders are gobbling up its best refugees - Uncle Sam's smiling. For once, not the butt of the joke, the Federal government's enjoying a leadership role in telework. Feds make up better than 90 percent of TW pledges.
Cold Hard Facts
TW's booming. Last year, 71,000 took the pledge. Based on empirical 2012 TW data - extrapolated to the Federal workforce - Feds would save $5 billion per year in commute costs. That's powerful mojo for government employees trapped in a three-year pay ice age. Gas prices haven't gone down - so look out for likely higher savings this year.
Seventy percent of agencies last year noted increased productivity during TW. What do employees say? Majority - 69 percent - noted preference for jobs that offer telework.
Take the Pledge
But Yahoo's yikes is the telework threat - yesterday's thinkers trying to stuff the genie back in the bottle. Speaking of dinosaurs, telling that Donald Trump came out against telework. More open and agile minds are in our corner - three cheers for Richard Branson.
Don't sit at home on your laurels - you need to demonstrate your support for telework. And, TW is the perfect platform. Go ahead - pledge to promote progress. Individuals, government, and industry all have a role to play. Hats off to Cisco and Citrix for supporting TW.
Report a Raptor
To be clear, I'm not saying every agency's tumbled for telework. Let us know where the dinosaurs live - click on Report a Raptor to call out agencies that are Team Telework or Team Yahoo.
It's up to you to determine telework's fate. Like Jurassic Park, there are monsters among us. We need to work together to control Marissus Mayosaurus, the Donald, and Teleworkosaurus Wrecks everywhere. It's us or them - don't underestimate the adversary. Clever girl...