January 25, 2010 By Dan Lohrmann
Now that Oracle's acquisition of Sun has been approved by the European Commission , what's next? That is, what does this merger mean for government technology leaders around the country?
Some readers may be thinking that this is old news, but this major deal has been on hold since April 2009 due to competition concerns. The merger now looks certain to go through in the next few months or sooner.
This is a very important announcement for the technology industry since:
" Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison said in September that the delay was breeding customer uncertainty, causing Sun to lose $100 million a month as companies held off purchases. The panel had threatened to block the deal due to fears that Oracle might be able to eliminate MySQL as a competitor . "
Going back to the analysis of the announcement last year, Oracle was deemed to be getting a bargain for $7.4 Billion. Experts reported that Oracle, " Ends up acquiring MySQL, the upstart database that has been viewed as Oracle's Achilles' heel." Now we know that Oracle will not only keep MySQL, but they will boost investment in MySQL's open-source licensing platform.
Om Malik, from gigaom.com , wrote this on the merger after to speaking to "inside" sources:
Mr. Malik goes on to quote Miko Matsumura, VP and deputy CTO at Software AG, who had a contrarian take on the merger. He predicts it will be a disaster, with thousands of layoffs.
The Linux Journal posed an open-ended question to readers about the acquisition, and here's what they said about what's next back in April 2009.
Fast-forward back to today, and ask the same question. What are we likely to see as the 2010 progresses? Check out this internal Sun memo from their CEO that was obtained by CNET.com. The theme: Beat IBM , which comes from the first letter from the first seven paragraphs.
Meanwhile, Oracle announced their plans for Sun last month, and here's a bit of what zdnet.com reported:
"Ellison also gave some insight to his Sun strategy. In a nutshell, he's staying out of the high-volume, low margin game that IBM and HP play. Simply put, Ellison is taking Sun upmarket with hardware-software devices like the Exadata database machine. Exadata has been a hit, said Oracle executives, who noted that orders have tripled sequentially and the biggest problem right now is manufacturing enough systems.
The future of Sun will rest with high-value systems, said Ellison, who added the computer industry is focused on selling components instead of complete packages."
No doubt, these are interesting times. I can't help but think back to my earliest memories of Sun. I remember buying and playing with a Sun Sparcstation 1 when I was at NSA in the late 1980s. Over the next decade, we configured hundreds of Sun boxes.
Now, as the Sun CEO stated to his employees: " Sun is a brand, Oracle is your company. "
I've never worked at Sun, but along with thousands of employees, I'll have a hard time getting used to that distinction.
What are your thoughts on this merger?
January 17, 2010 By Dan Lohrmann
The world-wide media was full of stories this week regarding the Google situation in China. Articles ranged from the Global Implications of Google's Stand to a new perspective on Global Net Intrigue. There is no denying that this is a potential Internet game-changer in many ways that go way beyond just security and hacking challenges we all face over the next decade.
I found it very interesting that Google immediately defended cloud computing after the attacks. This defense seemed almost too quick. Check out this quote:
"(Google Chief Legal Officer David) Drummond said the attack on Google's corporate infrastructure resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google, though he declined to specify what the hackers stole.
However, he also said the accounts of dozens of Gmail users in the U.S., Europe and China who are advocates of human rights in China were routinely accessed by third parties. Drummond stressed that these accounts were compromised through phishing scams or malware, not through holes in Google's computing infrastructure. This is a key point.
Google's hosts data from search, Gmail and other collaboration programs that comprise Google Apps for millions of consumers on thousands of servers in data centers all over the world as part of a cloud computing model. When a Google user triggers a request from his or her computer, it speeds to these servers, looking for a response."
The article goes on to quote Drummand as he defended the Google security controls as well as cloud computing as a whole. And yet, it seems to me that his answers may be too narrow. A wider question remains around the laws, practices and policies of global governments.
That is, what if a law in another country changes or conflict with a cloud company's policies and procedures. Or, what if laws are not enforced or followed? Might a major investment be lost? What legal recourse will a company or local or state government have if a nation state decides to not play by their own rules?
It seems to me that this China situation has huge implications for cloud computing globally and locally for states. Put in another way, how does the legal framework of a country impact cloud computing?
I heard a lecture once by a defense expert who said something to the effect that intentions can change overnight, but capabilities take many years to deploy. He was speaking about aircraft carriers and tanks, but I think that same quote applies to cloud infrastructure overseas - as we have just witnessed in China.
What are your thoughts on this topic?
January 11, 2010 By Dan Lohrmann
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski has asked congressional leaders for more time to deliver the much anticipated National Broadband Plan, now due Feb. 17. According to Government Computer News (GCN), Genachowski said that,"this extension will not affect the FCC's budget for the National Broadband Plan, which was mandated as part of the National Recovery Act, and asked that it be accepted March 17."
This entire process, which was kicked off last April, has taken much longer than orginally anticipated. The plan is an important driver for the nation's economic recovery. State and local governments have been very engaged in this broadband planning process, and many state planners are waiting eagerly for the final plan which will provide more guidance. Here's another excerpt from the GCN article:
"The goals are to ensure access to broadband capability for all Americans, provide a detailed strategy for affordability and adoption of broadband and to maximize utilization of broadband and craft a strategy for using broadband to achieve national purposes. Under the plan, grants will be provided by the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service and the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration."
The commission invited broad public participation in developing the plan, and this summer launched a blog called Blogband , to chronicle development of the plan and invite comment. It also launched a Twitter channel to report progress on the National Broadband Plan."
State and local governments have been eagerly waiting to find out who will receive grants in their state. State-specific plans will depend upon national decisions.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that they are examining cloud computing's privacy and security implications for consumers. The FTC wants its findings to be considered as the FCC formulates the National Broadband Plan.
Information Week ran a story on this topic, and here is an interesting quote:
"[T]he ability of cloud computing services to collect and centrally store increasing amounts of consumer data, combined with the ease with which such centrally stored data may be shared with others, create a risk that larger amounts of data may be used by entities in ways not originally intended or understood by consumers," wrote FTC attorney David C. Vladeck in a letter to FCC Secretary Marlene H. Dortch.
One interesting note: the timing of the upcoming FTC roundtable discussions on the implications of cloud security and privacy, the last of which is scheduled for March 17, does not work with the February release schedule for the National Broadband Plan. So what does this mean?
I agree with Thomas Claburn of Information Week that, "The letter appears to be a reminder to the FCC, as it comes up with a broadband framework for the U.S., to save a place at the table for the FTC."
What are your thoughts on the National Broadband Plan and/or your views on how the plan relates to cloud computing?
January 4, 2010 By Dan Lohrmann
What's around the corner for 2010? What new invention will be the next iPhone, iPod or blackberry? Are there any hot tech topics that CTOs need to be considering for their infrastructure budgets? Just as important for technology professionals, what Christmas presents might be showing up at a government office near you?
Over the holidays I was reading about upcoming innovations and technology predictions for the new year and beyond. Along the way, I came across a new term called "vooks."
I thought to myself: What's a vook? So I googled it and typed, "articles on vooks." Google came back with: "Did you mean: articles on books?" My Microsoft Word program didn't do much better - putting a red line under the word and offering suggestions like "look, took and cook."
My daughter thought vooks might be creatures from outerspace or aliens in the movie Avatar - which she reminded me that we need to see soon.
But a vook is a hybrid between a video and a book. Scrolling down further from my Google search, you will come across these somewhat recent articles:
Curling Up with Hybrid Books, Videos Included (excerpt from New York Times)
"... In the age of the iPhone, Kindle and YouTube, the notion of the book is becoming increasingly elastic as publishers mash together text, video and Web features in a scramble to keep readers interested in an archaic form of entertainment."
"The Sherlock Holmes Experience vook is a revolutionary new way to read the exploits of Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary character, Sherlock Holmes. The vook enhances these timeless stories with videos that delve into the history and legend surrounding Holmes. The videos annotate the text, giving readers a better picture of the times and the ability to pick out details and historical facts that help readers further immerse themselves in the mysteries. Additionally, key terms are hyperlinked throughout the vook to let readers explore sites on the Web related to the plot without having to lose their place in the story. The vook will be available as an application on the iPhone and the browser-based Vook Reader."
What is a Vook and will it change how you read? (Excerpt from Entertainment Weekly)
"Is this the first hole in the dam for our traditional definition of what books are? Can a single medium continue to exist alone in this increasingly multimedia world, or will reading inevitably end up looking less like Gutenberg and more like Google?"
Where does a vook come from? Well, from vook.com, of course. Vook is also a company started in 2008. (No, I have no financial interest or any other relationship with them.) Their front pages announces: "Make a new you in 2010."
OK, so why is a government CTO writing about vooks in an infrastructure blog? Great question. A few things (and trends) to consider:
1) One complaint that I hear from our customers is that we are not thinking about their apps, the future, what's next, and building infrastructure to support it. We're too worried (and busy) solving current issues and not looking at strategic directions for government.
2) Here's another great example of the new media world we live in where video, the Internet, text and just about everything end users do with technology, are merging together. Yes, we've seen similar things before with mashups - but vooks, or some variation thereof, may become a new killer app for select customers.
3) Think about future training opportunities at work and possibilities for K-12 and higher education.
4) More directly, this technology has major implications for network connectivity for governments, Internet access speeds, and more. I know many state and local governments that block all video, and that strategy will only work for so long.
5) As an author, I'm interested in books, new forms of writing, interpersonal communication and this cool, trendy topic.
Bottom line - Watch out, the vooks are coming!
One more thing - when I told my wife Priscilla about this new term "vook" she sighed. "Where have all the book lovers gone?" She's not the only one asking that question.
Building effective virtual government requires new ideas, innovative thinking and hard work. From federal stimulus projects to enterprise architectures to cloud computing, Dan Lohrmann will discuss what's hot and what's not in the world of technology infrastructure.