November 20, 2009 By Dan Lohrmann
The National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) has again polled state CIOs to determine what's hot and what's not as we head into 2010. Here's my take on their survey results.
Government Technology Magazine summarized the results into two categories. The top three in each category are:
A. Priority Strategies, Management Processes and Solutions
1. Budget and cost control: managing budget reduction , strategies for savings, reducing or avoiding costs, activity-based costing
2. Consolidation: centralizing, consolidating services, operations, resources, infrastructure, data centers
3. Shared services: business models, sharing resources, services, infrastructure, independent of organizational structure
B. Priority Technologies, Applications and Tools
1. Virtualization (storage, computing, data center, servers, applications)
2. Networking, voice and data communications, unified communications
3. Document/content/records/e-mail management (repository, archiving, digital preservation)
I am not surprised by budget issues leading the list. That almost goes without saying during these difficult economic times. Consolidation and shared services are also pretty obvious choices, with the cost control and efficiency being the major themes for CIOs right now. We need to work together to do more more with less, and partnering with others can certainly help.
What surprises me most from the "A" list is that security dropped to #6. Expect that to change next year. I fully expect security to rise back to the top three as Web 2.0 and cloud computing strategies try to battle with the inevitable threats that will surface from cost cutting.
The other surprise from list A is that infrastructure was #8. If you look at the top items on list B, they are infrastructure items like virtualization and networking. I can't quite figure that one out. List B also shows a drop for identity management from 2009, which will eventually need to be addressed in building more end-to-end trust and for moving forward with ambitious cloud computing plans.
The overall trend is "follow the money." Federal stimulus dollars are raising items like broadband to a new level of importance. Governments across the nation are looking at grant opportunities as well as making the most out of investments that they have already made.
In summary, I have a hard time arguing with any of the items on either list, based upon our economic realities. Michigan's list is similar, with a few exceptions like consolidation - which we've already tackled.
What are your thoughts? Do these priorities match your plans for 2010?
November 13, 2009 By Dan Lohrmann
Lockheed Martin and thirteen other leading technology providers announced the formation of a new cyber security technology alliance yesterday. The announcement took place in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The event coincided with the opening of the new Lockheed Martin NexGen Cyber Innovation and Technology Center.
According to Government Computer News, "the new NexGen facility will be able to tap into the defense center's data feeds, or simulate government agency computing environments, and test various approaches to mitigate cyberattacks.... The new center also features dedicated distributed cloud computing and virtualization capabilities. Those capabilities would permit an agency to simulate a network under attack and test various responses. For instance, analysts could replicate an operating network and freeze it on a second virtual location, in order to study the nature of the attack, while still supporting the primary network."
The companies participating in the Cyber Security Alliance include APC by Schneider Electric, CA, Cisco, Dell, EMC Corp. and its RSA security division, HP, Intel, Juniper Networks, McAfee, Microsoft, NetApp, Symantec and VMware.
According to the Lockheed Martin press release, this new center will help our nation deal with 21st century technology infrastructure challenges. "We face significant known and unknown threats to our critical infrastructure," said Charles Croom, Vice President, Cyber Security Solutions, Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services. "We not only need solid defenses but also the right technologies to predict and prevent future threats. Innovation and collaboration are key to ensuring mission resilience and securing cyberspace."
Why do I highlight this announcement? I believe that these types of technology alliances are essential to address our growing threats in cyberspace. The "bad guys" continue to get better, and state and local governments have few if any dollars to invest in testing and research to properly secure new virtualization and cloud computing security challenges. Governments need the private sector to step up and offer these types of testbeds.
As we move forward, issues around identity management, end-to-end trust and cloud security will need to be tested in complex scenarios that state and local government networks will simply not be able to simulate properly. This alliance is a great step towards offering integrated solutions that governments can buy off the shelf.
What are your thoughts?
November 1, 2009 By Dan Lohrmann
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) released their list of best practices at their annual conference in Austin, Texas last week. I think the entire list of submissions deserves more attention by federal, state and local technology pros. The list of best practice recipients, as well as the other finalists in each category, can be found at the NASCIO award web site.
In my opinion, the list of thirty top submissions (three in each of the ten categories) should become required reading for government technology professionals nationwide. No, I'm not talking about the summaries, but the full (six page) write-ups. These projects offer the right mix of people, process and technology innovation which is essential to program success.
From enhanced drivers licenses to electronic disease surveillance systems to state portal widgets, the business return on investments are impressive. As I read these documents, I can't help being impressed by both the creativity and effectiveness of these IT teams. I urge you to take the time and at least look at the list and pass the write-ups along to the right staff within your organization.
What are your thoughts on these state best practices?
October 27, 2009 By Dan Lohrmann
The University of Michigan released a report today rating and ranking 104 federal government websites in terms of how well the satisfy citizens. The report is the well-known quarterly American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Government Index. Each of the 104 websites is given a score on the Index's 100-point scale.
The report shows that satisfaction with e-gov is at an all-time high, had the greatest quarter-over-quarter increase since the study was founded 6 years ago, and that many individual government websites are outperforming private sector stalwarts like Amazon and Google in terms of customer satisfaction.
"The increase in e-government satisfaction also brings government more into pace with the private sector. While the e-government aggregate (75.2) still significantly trails private sector industries like portals and search engines (83) and e-retail (82), e-gov outperforms the online news and information industry aggregate (74), online brokerage and investment (74), and just edges out the online travel industry (75)."
The top score of 91 went to the Social Security Adminstration's (SSA's) retirement estimator. You can get to that website by going to www.ssa.gov/estimator
To download a free copy of the full report, please visit www.ForeSeeResults.com. To follow discussion about the report on Twitter, please visit #ACSI.
October 26, 2009 By Dan Lohrmann
What's the best strategy regarding upgrades to your desktop and netbook operating systems? Should governments move to Windows 7, Linux or wait for Google's new Chrome OS?
Everyone is talking about Microsoft's recent launch of Windows 7. In describing the benefits of their new operating system, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called Windows 7 "simpler, faster and more responsive" than Vista. Annoying prompts and frequent pop-ups have now been eliminated, and Windows 7 offers better security and fewer resources - actually running smoothly with less memory. Windows 7 can sleep and wake up faster, and if you are still running XP, the overall improvements that you experience will be even more significant.
Analysis from around the world has been generally positive, with global experts proclaiming that Windows 7 is like Vista but good. Here's an interesting quote from the United Kingdom:
"All round, then, Windows 7 is generally good, and some Windows fans reckon it's better than Apple's Mac OS X. It's certainly easier to use than Mac OS X if you are already familiar with the Windows way of doing things. Also, Windows 7 - released to companies on August 6 - has so far proved to be a lot less buggy than Apple's Snow Leopard, which has even lost users' data....
Windows 7 is simply the best version of Windows you can get."
So what's a government technology manager to do at this point? Are you planning to upgrade? USA Today's Byron Acohido writes that Despite Windows 7, Linux raps harder at company doors .
"IBM, whose Lotus Symphony programs work well on Linux, for years has pushed to get companies to dump Windows for Linux. More recently, Google has promoted Google Docs, a Microsoft Office-like suite of programs delivered over the Web. And Google's Android smartphone uses Linux technology....
Still, of the 655 information technology buyers recently surveyed by Forrester, 66% said they expect to move to Windows 7 computers. 'Users have historically voted for Windows above Linux," says Charles Smulders, tech industry analyst at Gartner.'"Information Week ran an article saying that Uncle Sam Mulls the Move to Windows 7, but despite the fact that many government agencies participated in the Windows 7 beta, the public sector is expected to trail the private sector in early adoption.
"Of federal IT managers with plans to move to Windows 7, 60% plan to make the move in six months or more.... Among the factors influencing Windows 7 adoption by federal agencies are the time required for management approvals and any related IT upgrades. According to Dell, 60% of federal agencies with Windows 7 migration plans will make the move as part of their normal PC and laptop refresh cycle...."
The article goes on to describe current Microsoft deals. "Microsoft is ramping up its Windows 7 push in the public sector. It's offering 15% discounts on Windows 7 professional edition for small government customers, will host a Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual event on Nov. 10, and is preparing a Windows 7 e-book for government customers."
In Michigan, we are one of the governments still using XP desktops and laptops. Like many others, we have very few users of Vista. We have traditionally waited for service pack one to be released and/or to migrated to a new OS as a part of the PC and laptop refresh cycle. We have not made a decision regarding Windows 7 at this time.
However, I do use Vista on my home (family-owned) desktop PCs and laptops. (With a family of six, we have two desktops and two laptops. One of my daughters also wants a new laptop for Christmas.) I plan to migrate one of our home laptops to Windows 7 to check it out. I'll let you know my thoughts over the holidays.
So what are your thoughts and/or plans regarding on Windows 7?
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.