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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.

In Contracting, a Desire for Efficiency Can Cloud Clarity

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

The word transparency is used in many different places but with different results. Transparency is what we want in Congress, friendships, relationships and processes, as well as in city council meetings, school board decisions, neighborhood association rules and acquisition strategies. However, in today’s world, very few things are opaque—particularly when it comes to the process of government procurement. What should be an extremely transparent process remains one of the most coveted havens of secrecy, power and waste, and we all pay the price.

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