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Thrifty Can Do It for the Defense Department

September 1, 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann

The benefits of virtualization can be extended to thrifty end-users either through public clouds or via private clouds. The time has come to reach out to the millions of user devices that operate in thousands of separately programmable silos that require spending money on labor-intensive overhead. U.S.

Defense Department projects can be brought into a consolidated cloud environment where much lower costs and increased security can deliver immediate benefits.

The May 21, 2012, issue of Forbes magazine describes how start-up firms acquire information technologies without spending much money. These firms use commercial cloud services instead of setting up their own data centers.

There now is a flood of commercial offerings for low-cost cloud computing solutions. Thought should be given to switching smaller Defense Department projects to deployments through Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). More than 2,000 such projects now exist in the Defense Department.

New projects need not be encumbered with the burden of elaborate planning, cost justification, development and acquisition of computers as dictated by existing directives. Instead, the department can adopt the method for setting up new projects inexpensively and instantly. This can be done in weeks, not months or years. An experimental system can be tried without much risk and for a small investment. Innovative applications can be tested and even discarded without committing to a multiyear stream of cost. After a new project demonstrates its suitability, it always can be scaled up.

Forbes illustrated the benefits of thrifty computing for a small venture firm:

Old Defense Department Silos Must Be Swept Out

August 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann

In last month’s column, I reported that there were 2,904 separately funded fiscal year 2012 information technology budgets. Many of these would be set up to operate their own and incompatible networking, storage, server, operating systems, middleware or control commands.

The Defense Department Must Account for its Information Technology Silos

July 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

Among many definitions, the Oxford dictionary defines a silo as a process that operates in isolation. In the U.S. Defense Department, everyone works in separate components. Computer silos have proliferated with the availability of a huge number of customized information technology solutions.

How Efficient Is the Management of Defense Enterprise Systems?

June 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) delivered to the House Armed Services Committee a report on enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. These ERPs would be replacing legacy systems costing $890 million per year. Replacing such systems would take anywhere from seven to 14 years. However, when the ERPs finally are installed, they would cost up to $207,561 per user and have a payback time frame as high as 168 years.

The Efficiency of Defense Department Information Technology Spending

May 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

Any aggregation of computers, software and networks can be viewed as a “cloud.” The U.S. Defense Department is actually a cloud consisting of thousands of networks, tens of thousands of servers and millions of access points. The department’s fiscal year 2012 spending for information technologies is $38.4 billion. This includes the costs of civilian and military payroll as well as most information technology spending on intelligence. The total Defense Department cloud could be more than $50 billion, which is 10 times larger than the budget of the 10 largest commercial firms. So, the question is: How efficient is the Defense Department in making good use of its information technology?

Now May Be the Time for Defense Department Enterprise Email

April 1, 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

Email is the most attractive application for leading to implementation of a Defense Department enterprise-wide strategy. Email features are generic and functionally identical. It is shared across all components. It is mature. A shared directory of addresses and the security requirements are identical and do not require innovation. Implementing email as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) by an organization such as the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) would offer immediate cost reductions of at least 50 percent. This would serve as a precedent for similar enterprise-wide efforts that could follow.

The Defense Department Has Its Information Systems Strategy--Now What?

March 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

We now have the U.S. Defense Department information technology enterprise strategy and roadmap. The new direction calls for an overhaul of policies that guide the department’s information systems. Yet, implementation is a challenge, and several issues require the reorientation of how the Defense Department manages information technologies.

The Key to Cutting Information Technology Costs

February 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

The adoption of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) has opened up new opportunities for reducing information technology costs. Now, the U.S. Defense Department must enter this option into its planning.

Listen Carefully ... Computers Now Can Understand What You Say

January 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann, SIGNAL Magazine

A smartphone that engages in conversations is the next perturbation that will dictate how the U.S. Defense Department needs to revise its information management practices. The effects of this new technology will reverberate from individual communications protocols all the way to data architectures.

Imagine What Might Be Possible

December 2011
By Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), SIGNAL Magazine

You may remember that old New Orleans house I mentioned in a previous column and its ongoing renovation that so closely matches the process of upgrading legacy federal information technology systems. The house was built in 1890, by true artisans, with thick plaster walls, joists made out of solid red pine or cypress, a slate roof, ornate ironwork, thick wooden floors, nine monstrous fireplaces and all the supporting brickwork that was certainly made for beauty, functionality and durability. However, it was not made for wireless networks, sound systems or any other type of technology innovation.

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