April 26, 2009 By Dan Lohrmann
Government Technology Magazine hosted an invitation only CTO Summit for government CIOs and CTOs on April 14-15. This year's focus was "Data Center Management in Challenging Fiscal Times." You can learn quite a bit about what we discussed by just looking at the day and a half agenda.
A few quick tidbits: attendance was down to approximately 35 attendees due to travel restrictions in many states. Several state and city leaders dropped-out at the last minute. Nevertheless, the discussions and networking opportunities were outstanding, with state CIOs like Ken Theis from Michigan and Steve Fletcher from Utah as well as large city CIOs like Chris Vein from San Francisco.
The opening keynote from Paul W. Taylor was excellent. It was entitled: "Stimulating, Smart Sustainable and Sticky: The four Corners of Your Next IT Strategy." Paul's Slides are available online and his Renovation Nation blog is worth visiting. Paul has a unique way of bringing trends together in logical ways to help IT leaders think through what they are doing and where they are going. He made it clear that the Homeland Security funding spigot is closing while the stimulus spending channel is opening (see page 7). The government leaders that can demonstrate how different programs can work together (like Health IT and broadband networks) will have an advantage.
The next session on building data centers, entitled: "Building the Next Glass House" revealed fascinating trends and perspectives from three different state/local governments. From available federal tax breaks to the density of server power, all three presenters offered political and technical barriers and solutions. It was clear that building a new green data center (locally) is a hot issue around all over country. (More on this in a future blog.)
Later sessions focused on consolidation, security, and even an open, honest "off-the-record" dialogue on tough issues. But my point to writing this blog is rather simple. First, talk to others around the country about your infrastructure plans and strategies. Many of us are dealing with the exact same issues in these tough budget times. Second, check out Paul's keynote, he has plenty to offer.
Last, the Government Technology Magazine CTO Summit offers an excellent relationship-building opportunites that pay off for your government. This was my first year, but I hope to be back next year. Plan to attend as well, or at least visit the Digital Government Summits planned for your city in 2009.
Any other thoughts from those who attended? What was your biggest take-away?
April 18, 2009 By Dan Lohrmann
Growing up, I used to love to watch ABCs Wide World of Sports. I'll never forget that famous line from Jim McKay: "Travelling the world to bring you a constant variety of sports, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, the human drama of athletic competition - this has been ABCs Wide World of Sports." The words were always accompanied with pictures of successes like US Olympic hockey heroes as well as tragic failures such as a skier wiping-out while going down a scary mountain.
In many ways, covering technology infrastructure is no less daunting than covering the global sports scene. I know that readers are inherently tech-savvy with access to an infinite number of channels. From USA Today's "Tech" section to Government Technology Magazine's News headlines to eWEEK.com's IT Infrastructure pages, there is way too much going on to even scratch the surface of what's happening globally.
On top of that, I have a full-time day job as Michigan's CTO leading hundreds of technology staff and contractors within the Michigan Department of Information Technology's Infrastructure Services Administration. So when it comes to covering technology, I will definitely be picking and choosing where to engage and what to leave for others.
A quick glance at a recent front page from eWEEK.com's IT Infrastructure section illustrates the scope of what we face each day. First, there's a "Top IT Infrastructure Opinion" entitled: " What Will the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 Do to Your Job and Business ." The next story, " Tools Measure Outside Air for Data Center Cooling ," did not really excite me but was linked very creatively to "Green IT." Nice spin.
The stories go on and on, from Obama Vows E-Health Records to Vets , to New Microsoft Windows Licensing Aids Desktop Virtualization, Report Says , to Before Grid Hack Reports, NERC Advises Industry on Cyber Assets . (Yep, the last one's back to the link between security and critical infrastructure.) I expect that my background will keep drawing me back to that security direction, but I'm going to try to leave that gig to my talented friend Mark Weatherford. Nevertheless, I've warned Mark that, at times, I may not be able to resist the cybersecurity temptation.
So how will I decide what to write about? Mostly, I hope to cover the items that are hot (or not) at work within Michigan government. From stimulus spending to new views on federal/state/local cooperation, these are fascinating times. At the end of the day, I like to blog about what is intriguing or thought-provoking to me, as my previous security blog-followers know well from Securing GovSpace and Lohrmann on GovSpace .
Since this is my first "Lohrmann on Infrastructure" blog, I'd like to look a bit closer at the parallels between blogging about sports and technology. Amazing technological advances have allowed the coverage of sports to change dramatically over the past 40+ years. All-sports TV channels like ESPN are widely available, and many popular events like "March Madness" (the Men's NCAA Basketball Championship) are made available for free on the Internet. Despite these advances, we still seek the same things when watching. Beyond following our alma mater, we become engaged as we learn about stories which offer "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" in sports or even other interesting stories covering the rest of life.
My hope is that this new infrastructure blog can offer at least a small taste of those same elements regarding technology. Granted, the topics are not usually as exciting Kurt Warner's rise to Super Bowl stardom . I realize that I may not achieve this ambitious blogging goal. No doubt, many of the stories we cover in technology can be boring or seem like "just work."
And yet, we all know that success comes when the people, our work processes and the right technology work together well. For most of us, the technology infrastructure we choose is only a part of our core activity, but our project management, technical architecture, network implementation or governance becomes central. If we can learn from others in the industry, we can be more effective. This includes learning from their successes and failures.
So just as I am fascinated by the background pieces that are offered on athletes during the Olympics, I enjoy blogging most when I can analyze the deeper story behind the headline technology story. This approach isn't always possible, but it is my goal for Lohrmann on Infrastructure. While each blog can hopefully stand alone and be read as a one-off, I try to tell a wider story over time. To relate technology infrastructure headlines to our specific situations within government offices. Time will tell whether I am even remotely successful at this ambition while at the same time addressing the wide world of IT infrastructure.
Finally, I'd like this to be a two-way dialogue. I truly hope you participate and offer your insights, ideas and suggestions. What's working at work, what's not and why?
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.