December 29, 2010 By Dan Lohrmann
It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be recapping 2010 and making technology predictions for 2011. While I don’t plan on recapping the first decade again or make any bold predictions for the future, I will offer some important trends to watch in government technology infrastructures for 2011.
But before I do that, here are a few of the top 2011 technology prediction articles that I have read by others:
Consumer technologies (from the United Kingdom) – From mobile payments to more social gaming to new TV options, this should be a very exciting technology year.
13 Mobile Predictions – This area is so hot that mobile-mania now needs its own category.
Gartner Predictions for 2011 - Although you need to pay for the detailed write-ups on each topic, it’s worth the time to just scan their free summaries to gain an overview of where technology and management are heading, in their view.
I don’t know what “Technobabble 2.0” is, but I like this post with several predictions from different IT websites. If there was a “Technobabble 1.0” – I missed it. Nevertheless, how about these bold predictions:
1. By 2016, a G20 nation’s critical infrastructure will be disrupted and damaged by online sabotage….
2. By 2015, 10 per cent of your online "friends" will be nonhuman. (I doubted this until my daughter just told me that she already has a nonhuman friend now who she plays rock/paper/scissors with her and answers a variety of her questions.)
As far as Government Technology goes, 2011 should be a pivotal year in the USA in many respects. A large number of states will be appointing new CIOs, and many states have new Governors with new agendas. In addition, many state and local government are considering significant changes to their IT governance models and/or privatized IT.
Even our federal counterparts are implementing significant changes in IT Management as they push a cloud first policy and other reform initiatives. There seems to be a new focus on measureable results and smaller deliverables with shorter-term schedules coming from the DC beltway. Hopefully, this trend will help state and local governments as well, if we can utilize federal contract vehicles which save money or offer better service.
So what technology trends do I see for state and local governments in 2011? Most of these will not surprise readers, so I call them trends rather than predictions. There certainly are no big surprises on my list.
Security and Consolidation are still near the top of everyone’s to do list. Given my background in security, I still blog occasionally for CSO Magazine on security topics as a CTO. A few months back, I wrote this article which describes the latest on this trend. Put more bluntly, security is an area that will get government technology leaders in trouble in a hurry, if ignored. Don’t assume anything regarding smart phones, cloud computing or Software as a Service (SaaS). Even if you outsource a function, make sure that you have the right security language in your contracts.
One more thing on security: I thought that security “peaked” as an issue a few years ago, but over the past year I realize that we are right back to square one regarding mobile apps and cloud computing. That is, we are going through the same new technology issues and trials that we did in the first part of this century. I now believe that security will be hot for another decade – at least.
Support for More Mobile Devices and Apps – Yep, we now need to support many different tablets and smartphones. Get used to it. Sticking to the blackberry on full-size PCs won’t cut it with the new teams coming in. They like iPhones, iPads, Droids and more. Nope, the Blackberry isn’t going away either, so we need to figure out how to truly do more with less in managing this area. Mobility is the new normal and part of the consumerization of IT; however, it is also the place where employees and citizens are increasingly accessing government data from. Bottom line, we need better plans and strategies for mobile devices and apps.
Even more virtualization, consolidation, SaaS and cloud computing – Again, no surprise here. Some of this work will be outsourced in 2011, but that will vary from state to state. The focus should be on creating plans to “right-size” efforts based upon skill sets, technology needs and priorities. Many states, such as Minnesota, continue to consolidate data centers, or move email to private sector partners.
I realize that these trends are not earth-shattering, but they will be challenging in 2011. State and local governments face very difficult budgets, and there will be pressure for quick results that lower costs now and improve services as well. This pressure will probably create a few train wrecks along the way on the operational side – so expect to see one or more stories similar to the events that occurred in Virginia in 2010.
It should be a very interesting year. What are your thoughts on 2011?
December 19, 2010 By Dan Lohrmann
The federal government has issued a "cloud first" policy as a part of the Office of Management and Budget's 25-point plan to reform federal information technology management. The policy was described by federal CIO Vivek Kundra during a December 9, 2010 presentation. This cloud first policy was presented as an important aspect of government reform efforts in order to achieve operational efficiencies by adopting "light" technology and shared services.
The potential benefits from implementing cloud computing are huge. One slide near the ends of the Mr. Kundra's presentation offered this bullet on how reforms will change the status quo: "Utilizing 'Cloud First' approach, provision solutions on demand at up to 50% lower per unit cost."
Federal agencies are already getting onboard, and the General Service Administration (GSA) has announced plans to move to a web-based email system, similar to Google's Gmail. According to the Washington Post
"The GSA is the first federal agency to make the Internet switch, and its decision follows the Office of Management and Budget's declaration last month that the government is now operating under a ‘cloud-first’ policy, meaning agencies must give priority to Web-based applications and services. ...
The Obama administration has said that cloud computing will allow more people to share a common infrastructure, cutting technology and support costs. But some technologists have warned that Web-based software may not be as secure as systems built for a dedicated purpose. And the programs often depend on stable network connections."
The cloud first policy itself has several specific mandates in section 3.2. "Each Agency CIO will be required to identify three 'must move' services and create a project plan for migrating each of them to cloud solutions and retiring the associated legacy systems. Of the three, at least one of the services must fully migrate to a cloud solution within 12 months and the remaining two within 18 months."
Moving forward, many implementation questions remain. How will the cloud computing contracts actually work across multiple agencies with different requirements? Will security protections be adequate? What parameters will be in place to prohibit offshore cloud facilities? Will the promised savings materialize? What flexibility will be included to allow state and local governments to take advantage of these new federal cloud offerings?
Still, these are the right actions overall for the federal government to take, in my opinion. A "cloud first" policy will shape the future for IT management in government. Many of these 25 federal reforms need to be adopted by state and local governments. So what should state and local technology leaders be doing now? What does a cloud first policy really mean outside the DC beltway? Quite a bit, I think. Here are three items to consider:
What are your thoughts regarding the announced "cloud first" policy? What does it mean for your government?
December 4, 2010 By Dan Lohrmann
"It’s not in the contract.” We hear these words every day in government.
Or, “Why can’t we just get the system to do it this way?”
Or perhaps, “Why wasn’t (such & such) included in the statement of work? It should have been built into the Request for Proposal (RFP).”
But it wasn’t, so now the vendor’s change is expensive.
I especially like these ideas from GSA’s Mary Davie entitled: 7 More Ideas for Better Buys. Here are a few excerpts (but I urge you to read all of her thoughts):
I especially like these ideas from GSA’s Mary Davie entitled: 7 More Ideas for Better Buys. Here are a few excerpts (but I urge you to read all of her thoughts):The challenge is huge: To be innovative in our RFPs or Invitations to Bid (ITBs) and still be efficient. Government teams around the world are notorious for “paving the cow path” or asking for the wrong things or changing our minds after the contract is in place.
This problem is not new. I remember discussing the costs associated with contract changes back in the mid-'80s. I was at Johns Hopkins getting my master's degree at night, and the class was discussing system development lifecycles. The farther one gets into the software development process, the higher the traditional cost of change
Both the public and private sector know about these contract challenges which cost billions of dollars globallyand can even lead to project failure. Meanwhile, the consumerization of IT and other trendsare causing government enterprises to relook at how they procure things. A key question is: How can we be more innovative while controlling costs in our procurement processes in 2011 and beyond?
Which leads me to point out several helpful articles that I’ve come across lately that got me thinking about this topic (again). They all point to the central importance of building better requirements into our RFPs. There are many different opinions on how to do this, and it’s worth taking some time to explore those options.
The main piece, called 13 ideas for building better RFPswas from Federal Computer Week (FCW). Another interesting article is called: The problem is procurement (and the associated comments at the end). There are also many websites like this one to help vendors and agencies with a variety of related procurement topics.
Yes, I realize that this is a very, very complex topic that requires a lifetime of training and expertise to cover all of the complex legal issues associated with contracts, etc. No, I am not a lawyer or an expert on procurement reform. Yes, we’ll probably still be talking about these same topics 20 years from now.
Nevertheless, I plan to do more in this area in the coming year. RFPs, RFIs, RFQs, SOWs, and contract creation, vendor selection, contract management and the cost of change orders are at the heart of answering that basic question: Can we do that?
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.