A couple of weeks ago, I was offered a chance to meet Mr. Vivek Kundra at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in downtown Washington, DC. Needless to say, I was honored to be given the opportunity. Although I was clear on my own views of how the Federal government could use cloud computing, the Obama administration’s plans were, at that time, anything but certain. What a difference a week makes !!
As has been widely reported, the President’s 2010 Budget submission has firmly set cloud computing as a “key tool for improving innovation, efficiency and effectiveness in Federal IT. The GSA has emphasized this edict by releasing a request for information (RFI) for Infrastructure as a Service offerings. This rapid and fairly decisive course change to the way Federal IT will be procured in the future can potentially change an entire industry. Looking at what has happened in the financial and automotive industries, this could also be seen as the administration flexing its muscle yet again in order to set the direction of a crucial component of the US economic system.
So now, with a little over a week before my meeting with Mr. Kundra, what do I talk about? Since the administrations direction has now been set, there’s clearly no need to discuss cloud computing as the right direction for Federal IT. Not being a political pundit or economic advisor, I will definitely stay away from the debates around government influence over the commercial sector. So as a technologist, I will stick to my knitting and discuss what technologies the coming GovCloud implementation will be able to leverage going forward.
If you have any suggestions for me, I would be happy to hear about them. The only thing I ask is for your recommendations to be focused on general technologies, industry standards or open source approaches. Please, no specific commercial products or specific technology implementations.
Of particular interest to me will be those technologies, standards or approaches that are “shovel ready”, and available for pilot implementations today! As outlined in the budget, “… pilot projects will be implemented to offer an opportunity to utilize more fully and broadly departmental and agency architectures to identify enterprise-wide common services and solutions, with a new emphasis on cloud-computing. The pilots will test a variety of services and delivery modes, provisioning approaches, options, and opportunities that cloud computing brings to Federal Government. Additionally, the multiple approaches will focus on measuring service, cost, and performance; refining and scaling pilots to full capabilities; and providing financial support to accelerate migration”.
I look forward to your assistance on this!
I’d suggest you take a look at what DISA has done with the RACE (Rapid Access Computing Environment) effort they are bringing online, as well as its companion application development environment (Forge.mil).
While these are specific examples, I think you’ll find interesting information to help you in your meeting with Mr. Kundra. DISA has already been thinking a lot about this already.
Good luck in your meeting – I hope it goes very well!
Sorry – correction – Forge.mil link is http://disa.mil/forge
I’m curious, Kevin, whether he thinks the goal should be to build and adopt new technological standards to gain efficiency/effectiveness or to amend current infrastructure and rewrite policies so such technologies have an easier chance of adoption.
Related, where does he stand on the notion of a “one web” solution for the entire executive branch, i.e. instead of individual departments acting like silos with their own social technologies, shouldn’t there be an Administration-wide direction and initiative in one?
how about working on giving more support to adoption of collaborative and social media tools within the agencies – encouraging the technical, legal and cultural issues that agencies need to get over.
I would second Ms. Lavoy, and add what to me is almost embarrassingly basic: an immediate solution to the ban on thumb drives. Perhaps the ban itself can’t be resolved that quickly, but surely there is some way to train and trust people who truly need this technology to do their jobs every day. We in Public Affairs are hampered by the inability to move photos from camera to computer, and I have read about med techs with handheld computers in the field whose issue is not just job-critical but life-critical to their patients.
Driving innovation and standardization with a view to improving efficiency is a lofty goal. But change is painful- especially for the folks that have to practice this in their work everyday. Compliance can be enforced, but in order to ensure that folks understand the strategy and are committed to realizing the efficiencies, the human component has to be taken into account. It is challenging to change a culture where every agency/department is used to following their own standards to have to now start adhering to a new centralized standard. Pilot initiatives have to go beyond the notion of “one size fits all”. Will there be plans to make sure that the resources that have to use this are on board?
Thank you for the thoughtful input. I will definitely highlight this dialog when I meet Mr. Kundra and will leave a listing of all comments for his review. If anyone else would like to provide additional comments, I will continue collecting them until Tuesday evening (May 26th).