Defense Department CIO Stresses the Benefits of Change

May 19, 2010

Tuesday's afternoon keynote speaker highlighted the importance of accepting technological change across the U.S. government. David Wennergren, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information Management and Technology and Defense Department Chief Information Officer, shared his ideas for improving technology processes throughout the federal space. He began his speech by stressing the need for information sharing across federal agencies, noting that in 2005 the human race created 150 exabytes of data and that by 2010 this had increased to 1,200 exabytes. Chief information officers and managers will have to manage a constantly increasing sea of data. "Data has to be sexy for you," he quipped. Wennergren said that several new technologies, while hyped, offer great potential. These are service oriented enterprise, Web 2.0, and cloud computing. Service oriented enterprises allow capabilities to be delivered quickly in short development increments while Web 2.0 applications such as social networking are changing the way work is done in the Defense Department. He cited the examples of Intellipedia, an open-source information sharing network used by the intelligence community and Second Life, which allows users to attend virtual meetings. "If you imagine Second Life is just a game, you're missing the point," he said. Cloud computing, which used virtualization to maximize existing server resources is another new capability with lots of potential. Because cloud computing can save organization money they would otherwise spend on building and maintaining servers, Wennergren said that this capability should also be extended to replace most desktop computers with thin client workstations. Federal agencies must also align their information technology efforts. This includes cooperating on architecture, standards, enterprise software initiatives, adopting efforts such as the Federal Desktop Core Configuration, adopting enterprise services, and maintaining consistency across networks. Wennergren added that information security and information sharing compliment each other and that both cannot individually work in a vacuum. Organizations must provide security, but they must also be open to sharing information. Wennergren closed by noting that government technology officers must take a leadership role to successfully implement changes. Besides setting goals, he noted that the goals must push the organization to where it needs to be.

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