|By Kevin Jackson||
|March 8, 2009 12:00 AM EST||
(The following interview was conducted by Mr. Bob Gourley and was originaly posted on CTOvision.com on February 3,2009. I thank him for providing his permission to repost this timely article on Government Cloud Computing.)
Every CTO I know has heard of Vivek Kundra, former CTO of the District of Columbia. We have all been following his accomplishments in transforming the technology program in DC and have watched in excitement as more and more capabilities have been rolled out to serve the city and its citizens. We have followed reports of bold moves he put in place to ensure technology programs deliver. We have read about his new approaches to technology portfolio management and watched as he discussed the leap ahead he delivered to his enterprise by his audacious, courageous use of Google Apps and other cloud-based solutions.
If you are not one of those familiar with Vivek, here is a short bio: Vivek Kundra was the CTO for the District of Columbia where he led an organization of over 600 staff that provided technology services and leadership for 86 agencies, 38,000 employees, residents, businesses, and 14 million annual visitors. He brought to the role of CTO a diverse record that combined technology and public policy experience in government, private industry, and academia. Previously, Vivek served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the first dual cabinet role in the state's history. In the private sector, Vivek led technology companies serving national and international customers. Earlier he served as Director of Infrastructure Technology for Arlington, Virginia. He also taught classes on emerging and disruptive technologies at the University of Maryland. Since Vivek became District CTO, he has been honored with major IT awards. In 2008, the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium recognized him among outstanding IT innovators. In addition, InfoWorld Magazine named Vivek among its "CTO 25".
I recently saw Vivek at a meeting of the Washington Area CTO Roundtable, an informal collective of area CTOs led by Yuvi Kochar, CTO of the Washington Post Company. Before the meeting we chatted about mashup technologies (including his Apps for Democracy contest and also JackBe). During the meeting Vivek discussed several aspects of his innovative efforts to transform the District's information technology infrastructure. A point that struck me was his leadership through principles. Three key ones he articulated were: 1) Leveraging commercial technology, 2) Driving transparency, and 3) Rethinking notions of IT governance.
Vivek and I just finished a phone call where we discussed these and other items in more detail. Here is a bit more on his approach.
1) Leveraging commercial technology: Commercial radios and cell phones allowed a rapid enhancement of the tactical communications infrastructure of the DC workforce, including the police workforce. Police squad cars are also now equipped with commercial, but toughened, laptops. Commercial web technology has been leveraged in ways that leaped ahead of old clunky office automation and also enable rapid development and mashups.
2) Driving transparency and engaging citizens: Technology impediments to information access and information sharing were eliminated in ways that enable citizens to see how government decisions are being made. Data was also exposed in ways that enabled mashups and agile programing/development. Examples include DCs digital public squareand Apps for Democracy efforts.
3) Rethinking notions of IT governance: Totally new, innovative ways to manage IT portfolios were created and used to ensure all stakeholders could evaluate the technology program and better make informed decisions on when to terminate programs and where to invest more money. Chief among these innovations was an approach to portfolio management that replicates a stock market trading floor. More important, however is the relentless focus on performance and innovation to support performance. Beside rethinking these notions of governance Vivek also took measures to smartly watch/reduce/reprioritize IT costs.
I asked Vivek for thoughts that might be relevant to technologists who have set their sites on careers where they can deliver results. Many of us would like to follow in his footsteps. I wondered, if there is a particular computer programing language we should all be learning now? Should we be diving into Python? That's hot now. And what about databases? MySQL and Hadoop are all the rage. The thoughts I got back from Vivek were incredibly insightful and far more relevant than the simplistic question I asked.
V: Technology is important, and we do need to know technology. But in these very exciting times where Moore's law pushes us all forward it is actually more important to be able to quickly learn new technology rather than focus on one and only one. This is the beauty of the new world of technology. There is always something to learn. We should also always remember that the reason to learn is the mission. To an enterprise CTO, technology by itself is worthless. Technology only has value if it addresses business problems and drives business success. Therefore technologists must have an ability to translate between the worlds of mission needs and technology and need an ability to rapidly learn and deeply understand both.
I asked Vivek for his intention for sharing his models and methods, since they have clearly delivered success in DC. He is doing quite a bit there so all of us who would like more info have plenty of ways to learn more:
V: The DC CTO site at http://octo.dc.gov provides links to many of the ongoing activities of the office and for those who would like more on the models that produce the results we link to policies, guidelines and procedures. We also provide information on how our governance process works. But additionally we host visits to our office by interested parties and have begun blogging about them. In another effort we hope will help move the models forward we are pressing ahead with plans to turn our stock market approach to portfolio management into an open model and will open source the code that makes it work, which should help drive more innovation there.
Speaking of innovation, Vivek seems to have found a way to accelerate innovation, which is something all CTOs are interested in doing. I asked him for his thoughts on where to look for innovation. Another interesting reply:
V: You can look for innovation many places, but remembering that necessity is the mother of invention you should keep an eye open for places that innovate because they really need to. I always keep an eye on the developing world and am so incredibly amazed at the tech innovation there. Enterprise IT does not mean that every program and project must be delivered with huge budgets and huge staffs and the incredible innovations coming out of the developing world prove that time and time again. I'm excited and enthused about developments like cell phone voting in Estonia, electronic census that works in Chili, fishing villages around the world using instant direct data to plan movement. Innovation occurs many places, but some of the greatest lessons for innovation are coming from the developing world.
I asked Vivek about how to find balance between setting standards and enabling innovation:
V: Standards are important, but if a standard gets in the way of innovation kill it. Use standards that enable innovation. This is the role of the CTO.
Vivek also offered thoughts on social networks.
V: In seeking ways to make your cycles of innovation move faster, never underestimate the power of social networking tools and the networks you can build with them. Facebook is the example most talked about but there are many others including networks built around ecommerce like eBay and Amazon. I believe we should not only embrace them to enable the power of social networking but to help us leverage, in a large way, the IT infrastructure of these platforms. The new generations today are making maximum use of these platforms and I view this as a very optimistic point.
As for me, I view the results of Vivek Kundra and his models as optimistic points. The great thing about being a CTO is the learning never stops in this field and Vivek is a great teacher we should all be learning from.
For more on Vivek and the way hew views technology, including some of his inputs to the Obama adminstration, see: http://www.ctovision.com/2009/01/federal-government-technology-directions-and-the-fed-cto.html
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - KLJ )
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Nov. 28, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,206
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,314
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,645
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,481
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,317
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 27, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,678
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,291
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,238
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,250
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,531
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 1,506
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,403
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,336
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,250
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,196
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 26, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,631
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,727
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,628
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,757
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,789