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Reading, Writing and Big Data Basics

January 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

An industry-supported online school provides a good grounding
in the science and application of very large datasets.

A virtual school, developed by a team of leading software and hardware companies, is providing readily accessible education in the use of large information datasets. The classes range from entry-level sessions on the essentials of big data for managers to practical instruction for veteran programmers who are accustomed to managing more traditional relational databases.

The mission of BigData University is to provide training and broaden the expertise of the big data community, explains Ben Connors, director of BigData University and worldwide head of alliances with Jaspersoft Incorporated, San Francisco. The uses of big data are expanding, whether for improving the health of children, facilitating the search for clean sources of energy or analyzing intelligence data from unmanned aerial vehicles. As a result, managers are realizing the potential that may be hidden within large information files whose size is measured by petabytes and exabytes, Connors explains.

Implementing the Defense Department
 Cloud Computer Strategy Poses New Challenges

December 1, 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann

A few staff experts can formulate new strategies in a short time. Over the years, the U.S. Defense Department has accumulated a large collection of long-range planning documents. However, none of the plans ever was fully implemented, as new administrations kept changing priorities.

The just announced Defense Department Cloud Computing Strategy presents a long list of radically new directions. Ultimately, it will take hundreds of thousands of person-years to accomplish what has been just outlined. Several points stand out.

In one, individual programs would not design and operate their own infrastructures to deliver computer services. Users would develop only applications. This approach will require tearing apart more than 3,000 existing programs. A pooled environment will be supported by cloud computing that depends on different processing, storing and communications technologies. Small application codes then can be managed separately, relying exclusively on standard interfaces. The challenge will be how to manage more than 15 years’ worth of legacy software worth about half a trillion dollars, but in completely different configurations. Making such changes will require huge cost reductions of the infrastructure that currently costs $19 billion per year.

Another point is that cloud computing will reduce the costs of the existing computing infrastructure. The Defense Department will have to virtualize close to 100,000 servers and integrate that construct with 10,000 communication links. The department will end up with a small number of enterprise-level pooled and centrally managed operations. This is a short-term multibillion-dollar effort that can be financed only from rapid savings, because no new funding will be available.

Cyber Committee Shares Expertise

November 15, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

Ranging in topics from cloud computing to supply chain management, AFCEA’s Cyber Committee has published five white papers. Available on the committee’s website, information ranges from the basics to high-level recommendations that will be useful not only to organizations’ information technology personnel but also to leadership planning strategies for the future.

 

Defense Board Computing Recommendations Lack Strength

November 1, 2012
By Paul A. Strassmann

 

The Defense Business Board is the highest-level committee advising the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Its report on “Data Center Consolidation and Cloud Computing” offers advice on what directions the Defense Department should follow.
 

However, the Defense Business Board (DBB) report is incomplete. It does not offer actionable solutions; it only raises policy-level questions. As components are formulating budget requests through fiscal year 2018, they will find nothing in this report to guide them on what type of realignments are needed to advance the Defense Department toward cloud computing.

The department’s fiscal year 2012 budget for information technology is reported to be $38.5 billion, $24 billion of which is dedicated to infrastructure. Those numbers are incomplete because they do not include the payroll of 90,000 military and civilian employees, which is worth more than $10 billion. The numbers do not include the time expended by employees in administrative, support, training and idle time that is associated with more than 3 million online users, which amounts to at least $3,000 per capita per year, or $9 billion. In terms of potential cost reduction targets, the total direct information technology budget should be at least $50 billion. In addition, there are collateral management costs such as excessive purchasing due to long procurement cycles, high user support costs to maintain separate systems and high labor costs resulting from inefficient staff deployment.

Managing Change in the
 Intelligence Community

October 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

A new computing architecture emphasizes shared resources.

The nation’s intelligence community has embarked on a path toward a common computer desktop and a cloud computing environment designed to facilitate both timely sharing of information and cost savings. The implementation could result in budget savings of 20 to 25 percent over existing information technology spending within six years, but the ramifications could include large cultural changes that result both in lost jobs and business for industry partners.

Al Tarasiuk, chief intelligence officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), explains that the changes will be difficult. Agency employees, and the vendors who help operate and manage information technology for the 17 agencies composing the nation’s intelligence apparatus, will feel the effects of the cost cuts.

“Right now, technology is not our biggest risk. The culture change is our biggest risk, and that extends to our industry partners. We have a lot of industry employed in the community through service contracts and other things. They could help, or they could choose not to help,” Tarasiuk emphasizes, candidly describing the pivotal role of these firms in a transition that could spell the loss of both business and jobs. “They know, and I’ve been very open with them, that we’re not going to need the pool of resources of people that we have today to manage what we have in the future.”

Defense Department Unveils Cloud Computing Strategy

July 12, 2012

On Wednesday, the Defense Department (DOD) issued its long-awaited cloud computing strategy. Officials also announced in a memo from Teri Takai, chief information officer for the DOD, that the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will oversee the new strategy as "enterprise cloud service broker."

DARPA Modifies Cloud Computing Contract

July 11, 2012
By George Seffers

Terremark Federal Group Incorporated, Miami, Florida, is being awarded a $9,116,831 modification to a firm-fixed-price contract to provide cloud-based computing, infrastructure, data, and analytical support under the General Services Administration Special Item Number (SIN) 132-51 and SIN 132-52. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is the contracting activity.

DISA Takes Defense Department High-Tech

May 25, 2012
By Beverly Schaeffer

Providing secure mobile devices to the warfighter-a top DISA priority-could have the potential to completely transform battlefield communications and information sharing.

Not All Clouds Will Be Equal

February 29, 2012
By Maryann Lawlor

While the general perception is that a cloud is a cloud, that won't be the case for government agencies. Experts revealed more specifics about federal, state and local migration to cloud computing during the first panel at AFCEA International's Homeland Security Conference.

Road Map Charts Course to Cloud Success

January 6, 2012
By Rachel Eisenhower

A recently released draft plan provides a road map for federal agencies and industry to navigate through the development of the cloud-computing model.

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