September 28, 2009 By Dan Lohrmann
Got any calls lately from vendors who want to share their new cloud computing strategy? I certainly have - and from some unlikely sources. Whether public, private, government or some other word is out front, the word "cloud" has become our new pixy dust - ready to solve all our technology and budget problems.
Over the past several months, virtually every technology company in the world has developed a cloud computing strategy. A new cloud headline seems to surface every few days. Here are a few:
"IBM is helping the Dongying government build a cloud that will provide software development and test resources for software startup companies via the web through a self-service user interface."
"As the government moves to adopt cloud computing and considers limited use of free consumer services, Google is trying to address lingering concerns about security and control in the cloud."
"Amazon.com has targeted its cloud computing business at web startups, large companies, and scientists. But the Seattle online retailer has also been eyeing another potential customer for its cloud: government. The company is quietly building an operation in the Washington, D.C. area, and is aiming to become a key technology provider to federal and state governments and the U.S. military."
Don't get me wrong. I am as excited about cloud computing as everyone else. Michigan is busy developing our own government cloud strategy as well. There are a myriad of benefits, yada, yada, yada.
But while I am a big cloud believer, I'm starting to get a bit nervous. When everyone gets bullish on some new technology, I start to worry about what we're missing. Nothing can be that good or that easy. (If it was, why have we been so dumb up until now?)
So where are the gotchas? Everyone talks about security and privacy, and I did an intro piece on some cloud concerns a few months ago. But on my recent trip to South Africa I was confronted with some other aspects of this topic that grabbed my attention.
As background, I attended two excellent presentations on e-Government from a South Korean and Austrian perspectives. Both of these countries started their e-Government efforts with mandated identity management projects that offered good provisioning and an excellent understanding of who is accessing what. (To see the powerpoints, visit this GovTech 2009 website and download: "Seamless eGovernment - a key to inclusive public services" by Prof. Reinhard Posch, CIO, Austrian Federal Government (Austria) &
"Innovation of Government Services through e-Government - Korean Cases" by
Cheung Moon Cho, Consultant: Korea Government, Department of Communication ).
So why is this identity issue vitally important for new government clouds? In short, most of us in government have legacy system issues and those age-old problems of access controls, logging, knowing who is accessing what, the provisioning of data, and a host of related authentication controls. Another challenge will include linking our exisiting directory information with our cloud providers information while insuring "need to know" principles. The reality is that the same audit problems that plague many government organizations today will not go away in tomorrow's cloud computing architectures. We can't outsource the responsibility.
As with other technical advances, there are certainly quick wins and low hanging fruit opportunities with cloud computing that don't involve federated identity management or other access control issues. One excellent example includes low-cost cloud storage for non-sensitive data, which appears to be a no-brainer for most governments.
No doubt, we can (and will) go much deeper into this cloud identity topic in the future. But reinventing state and local governments around cloud computing must address the thorny identity management issues we all face today. Don't neglect a well thought out identity and provisioning strategy for your planned government cloud.
What are your thoughts on this topic?
September 22, 2009 By Dan Lohrmann
I just returned from a nine day trip to South Africa where I was one of the keynote speakers during GovTech 2009 in Durban. To say that I was impressed with what is going on in Southern Africa would be an understatement, I was truly amazed by their global perspective and technology progress. The conference theme was "Doing ICT for the citizens," and most presenters provided clear, practical technology benefits to ordinary citizens. Speakers from the United Kingdom, Austria, Canada, Brazil, and numerous other countries offered their insights on best practices in Information, Communications, and Technology (ICT).
Initially, I was apprehensive about the long trip, but I was looking forward to a fun vacation with my daughter. (We went on a beautiful three day safaris after the conference.) But my expectations were exceeded by outstanding presentations which were a mixture of direct talk about hard issues like the supplier - CIO relationship, the realities of open source, and convergence in a customer-centric era.
The conference offered a wide variety of important topics and case studies that are well worth considering (and downloading the powerpoints). For example, the e-Government situation in South Korea was described in detail. Other helpful sessions included global best practices which was offered by friend and colleague Paul Taylor and perhaps even my session on what's hot and what's not around the world in cyber security or Seven security threats that governments face.
Besides the conference material, I found the GovTech 2009 hosts to be kind and helpful. They truly made the international guests feel welcome, and they "get it" when it comes to the people side of technology conferences.
My recommendation: visit the GovTech 2009 conference website and download the powerpoint presentations that interest you. Videos of keynote sessions will become available soon, and I will point to those when I receive the link (in a future blog). In the meantime, I agree with the perspective: think globally, act locally. After my recent visit to Africa, it means a bit more than it did before.
September 7, 2009 By Dan Lohrmann
EMC continues to lead IBM, Dell and HP in the external disk storage systems market, but worldwide revenue declined by 18.7% from the prior year's second quarter, according to the research firm IDC. eWeek.com broke down the storage sales by revenue percentage, with EMC grabbing 21.5% of the market, IBM had 14.9% and HP came in third with 11.4% of the market share. Dell and NetApp finished in a tie with under 10% of the market share each.
Here's an interesting quote:
"Liz Conner, an IDC research analyst in storage systems, said while the enterprise storage systems market continue to feel the impact of current economic conditions, posting its third straight year-over-year decline, certain "sweet spots" in the market continue to thrive. 'iSCSI SAN and FC SAN both showed strong year-over-year growth of 57.2 percent and 66.8 percent, respectively, in the entry level price bands ($0K-$14.99K) as customers continue to demand enterprise level network storage at a more economically friendly price point,' she noted."
These latest statistics seem to confirm predicitions from earlier in the year (January) regarding a decline in the data-storage market. Back in May, vendors confirmed that weak sales were hitting revenues. And yet, the data storage market may be starting to see green-shoots.
For government technology leaders, this is a great time to take a look at where you stand regarding your overall data storage situation. New technologies that use data deduplication can offer substantial benefit to your enterprise storage strategy. Each of the named vendors are rolling out new products and services that can help reduce cost. New products and pricing can be very attractive.
In Michigan, we are looking at our overall data storage strategy and how we can move towards a new government cloud. We are virtualizing our servers, but also reducing the number of storage platforms with the use of data deduplication. We expect to save significant dollars over the coming year by taking a fresh look at our overall architecture and storage savings opportunities.
What are you doing regarding data storage?
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.