By Bob Gourley
The following is the meat from our monthly tech trends report. You can have this delivered to your email each month by visiting our newsletter signup page.
Over the last several months we continued to see foundations being established for dramatic positive change in the federal IT ecosystem including the government contracting community. We say “positive” because of the many virtuous elements we see for both government missions and for forward thinking technologists, but at the same time must sadly point out that it means many long term negative developments for some in the federal workforce. We encourage all to be as prepared as possible to unforeseen changes to your current career intentions.
Here is an update on key trends we are seeing in categories of foundational items, new software, budget trends and mission needs:
Foundation Trend One: The continued trend towards Cloud Computing models and capabilities. Over the last two months we have seen continued progress on federal use of Cloud Computing including additional FedRamp certifications and indications that over 80 additional firms are in the process of becoming certified providers of cloud computing capabilities to the federal enterprise. We have also seen continued dramatic positive change in what the IT world can offer in Cloud Computing (especially IO, Amazon, Google, Microsoft but also Oracle, Box, Salesforce, Cleversafe)
Foundation Trend Two: The continued enhancement of smartphone technology and rapid proliferation of smart devices into the federal ecosystem. For an update see Ryan Kamauff’s “A look at the Mobile Landscape in May 2013“. The three options at the top of Ryan’s list are all incredibly capable, far better than options that were available just six months ago. The devices can run more software at once, can handle things like video telecollaboration while on the move, and in the case of the Samsung Galaxy S4 come with advanced capabilities from that enable enterprise grade risk management (see foundation three below).
Foundation Trend Three: Significant improvement in mobile risk management and mobile device management technologies. Enterprise data and applications need to get into the hands of workers to be used and increasingly that means getting them into the hands of mobile workers. To do that well thought out means of managing configuration and protecting enterprise data and apps must be fielded. Over the last six months capabilities like those of Fixmo and their many teammates and partners have filled this niche, laying a foundation for reducing risk to mobile. The BYOD, Bring Your Own Device theme has now morphed into a BWTD, Bring Work To Device world (see “Are you working on BYOD? You might have things backwards, Thing BWTD“).
Foundation Trend Four: New means of ensuring “path” to Cloud Services while reducing data loss threats (DLP) and ensuring network level authentication and access control. This foundational capability is required to ensure optimization of cloud capabilities for enterprise support but is also one of the great hopes in reducing the threats to enterprise data. The exemplar of capability in this domain is Centripetal Networks (see: Centripetal Networks Provides Internet Scale Cyber Defense). The issue of enhanced ability to shape rules for what is on your circuits and in your path to the cloud will enable new reliances on cloud services, including public and private cloud services.
Software Disruptor One: The first disruptor we will call out is actually many capabilities all in one. The many advances by American industry in enterprise technology including developments in just the last 6 months by firms like Cloudera, Platfora, Terracotta, Cleversafe, Invincea, Triumfant, and MarkLogic. The great explainer of this overall mega trend has been Marc Andreessen and we continue to track his thoughts on this (and will be meeting with him and many of his a16z firms next week to keep tracking this trend). Some of our updates on this trend are at Chris Scott’s “The Future of DoD Command and Control: When will software eat this industry” and Bob Gourley’s “Ready or not, software is eating the government contracting world.”
Software Disruptor Two: Foundations of open source software are being leveraged for almost all modern software. Even proprietary software powerhouses are leveraging the open source wave. This is accelerating the ability of every tech firm to field new capabilities faster and is improving the ability of enterprises to better access and mitigate risks. One to watch in the open source space is ForgeRock, especially for their open identify and access management solutions. But the greatest example of a firm leveraging and supporting the open source community for good is Cloudera, who has focused all their engineering efforts on community good first and built a virtuous model of support services, training and some high end management tools to ensure the greatest support is available to enterprises. Their newImpala capability is the latest example of the innovations this model is providing the community.
Software Disruptor Three: Improvements to smartphone apps. Apps designed for consumer use on smartphones that can be turned to helpful tools for the federal workforce are a growing category. Apps are also being built that extend enterprise workflow and productivity to smartphones and tablets (this may be a good time to mention the CTOvision mobile app, which runs on both Android and Apple devices).
Budget Trend One: Budget pressures will be with us for years to come and we continue to track the dynamics here. Budget pressures will cause government decision-makers to continually seek ways to reduce expenses and that means, at times, accelerating smart software into the enterprise. The bad news is it also means significant pressure on reducing the contracting workforce, and also pressure on reducing the amount of pay and benefits to existing contractors. These are brutal facts that must be understood and planned for.
Budget Trend Two: We continue to hear from multiple government sources that the practices of two or three big software players are considered inappropriate to the point of deserving special attention- including development of special strategies to reduce the amount of software from key companies being used in government. A dirty little secret not talked about much is that some companies get very arrogant when they get big and for some of those they also get very greedy. There are firms that can find ways to follow the law and all government guidance but still abuse the government for their own gain. Actions by those few bad actors may be legal and accepted, for now, but are bad for mission and wrong. Some good can come of this bad behavior by a few. Their behavior is giving new reasons for the government to think through smarter ways to license software. Overall this will be a good one for the good companies big and small that care about government missions and it will result in more efficient use of resources by enterprises (and one day this will free up more funds for use on more virtuous software).
What will be the impact of all the above? That is where we would appreciate hearing from you, so please give us your thoughts. But here are some considerations:
1) Consider ways you can help accelerate smart enterprise technologies into your organization, and help advocate for the best use of Cloud Computing, Big Data, Mobile Technologies and Social Media. Champion evangelists are needed in every enterprise and these people will help lead change and increasingly assume leadership roles throughout government and industry organizations. Champions are also required that can scrutinize the practices of the largest software vendors- the ones that are always sending lawyers in to shake down government CIOs.
2) Be ready for organizational change. Whether you are in government or the IT industry or the government contracting industry you should be ready for change including layoffs, re-organizations, mergers and divestitures. This will be a period of higher than normal organizational change, and leaders of organizations will need to think through how to leverage technology to ensure continued mission support during this change.
3) Be ready for personal change. If you are not the advocate for accelerating change into your organization, or maybe even if you are, A year from now you may well have a new job. That may or may not be by choice. You might want to ask yourself a few hypothetical questions. Like what training should you get now to make yourself more attractive in a dynamic job market? Should you take another class in programming or brush up on other technical skills? Should you pursue a new certification like the new Amazon cloud certification? Should you work through the examples and tutorials online at Cloudera University or sign up for an in-person CDH course? Hadoop will be with us forever and demand for these skills is huge in the federal ecosystem.
We have also kicked off a new survey on Hadoop in the Federal Ecosystem. Please take the survey for a chance to win a $25.00 gift card to Starbucks. We would really appreciate your thoughts and promise to report back on results.
Our Podcast series is up and running and serving an increasing number of commuters with context on the go. This series, led by our analyst and technology forecaster Ryan Kamuaff, is easy to download into any modern device (phone, tablet, player, car, toaster, you name it). The easiest way to subscribe is withiTunes, but you can also get it in the Zune marketplace and via RSS feeds and on our website.
We noted several trends in the DC area regarding hiring including a trend that at first seems counter intuitive. Although many in the ecosystem are being laid off, it is incredibly hard to find the right people for key positions in technology firms. There seems to be a mis-match in skills required. For example, many of the firms we work with are looking for world class best sales professionals. And those remain hard to find. Almost all the firms we work with are looking for engineers of all sorts, including pre sales engineers and post sales delivery focused technical talent. These are also in scarce demand. To help firms find the right people and help people find the right firms we are expanding our support to networking activities, leveraging our LinkedIn profiles (please connect to us there) plus other elements of our site and newsletters. We also pull in the hottest job requirements from firms seeking tech talent in the DC area. If you are looking for work or have jobs to post please visit our jobs board and connect to us at LinkedIn. If you know others who could use some networking help let them know we are here.
Below are some of the many ways to engage with us.
- Our Podcasts are now available for listening directly from our site, as well as in iTunes, and via RSS feed.
- The CTOvision mobile applications have been updated in both the Android and Apple Apps Store.
- The CTOvision Jobs Board is populated with the most up to date technology jobs in the federal technology scene. Post jobs or find jobs there.
- The CTOlabs directory has been expanded to include the greatest technology firms engaged in the federal IT ecosystem, and more companies are being added daily (search the directory here add a new company here).
- Our Newsletter selections have been expanded to include new topics (including Analytics, Big Data, Enterprise Technology, Cyber Security, Intelligence Community and DoD Technologies, and Mobility), so you can better tailor your feeds based on your interest area.
- The CTOvision Events Calendar has been modernized and improved and transformed into a visual posterboard of coming events of high interest to technology professionals.
We would love your feedback on any of these capabilities, and would welcome suggestions on other things you think we should be working on.