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Feds Relationship with the Cloud: It’s Complicated

Cloud computing is not a new concept for federal IT managers. The idea of transitioning to the cloud has been discussed, evaluated, loved and scrutinized for several years. There has and continues to be tremendous excitement about the benefits cloud computing can offer federal agencies, including increased flexibility, scalability and cost-efficiency. However, concerns still remain for agencies considering cloud adoption, primarily being security and lack of data control.

Earlier this year, MeriTalk released its “Cloud Without the Commitment” report following a survey of 150 Federal IT managers from agencies that have implemented cloud. The report, underwritten by Cisco and Red Hat, found that federal agencies still have a desire to embrace cloud, but security concerns and other challenges remain. For instance, 75 percent of respondents said they want to shift more services to the cloud, but they are concerned over retaining control of their data. As a result, agencies are still hesitant to go “all-in” when it comes to cloud. This sentiment is reflected by an unwillingness to commit long-term. More than half of those surveyed said concerns over being locked into a contract hold their agency back from cloud adoption.

This week I’ll be participating in a webinar discussion with GSA’s Mark Day, deputy assistant commissioner, Office of Integrated Technology Services, and Red Hat’s David Egts, chief technologist for Public Sector. We’ll be discussing the survey findings and what it means for the future of the federal government’s relationship with the cloud.

Click here to register and join us at 1:30 p.m. ET on Thursday (5/14) for the free discussion. Download the full survey report and come with questions. Hope to talk with you then!

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IoE and Convergence: The Path toward Greater Efficiency and Improved Citizen Services

As technology continues to evolve rapidly, citizens and end-user government employees are reaping the benefits. Government is responding to the growing demand for increased e-services and faster access to data by aligning resources to more adequately support a fully connected world, or as we like to call it the Internet of Everything (IoE).

The Difference between IoE and Convergence

IoE is the networked connection of people, processes, data and things. This extends beyond machine-to-machine communication (often referenced as the Internet of Things) to embrace complete connectivity. By connecting the unconnected, government agencies have the potential to reduce costs, improve operations, enhance employee productivity and improve citizen safety and services. However, to unlock all the benefits of IoE, the first step is convergence.

Convergence is what we refer to as the union of Big Data, Cloud Computing and Mobility. As these pervasive technology megatrends come together—there is a synergy that is created. This allows for a more streamlined, efficient technology environment that bridges the gap between government operations and citizen services.

Convergence and the Public Sector

The idea of benefiting from IoE is often talked about as something far in the future, but in truth, it is already happening today. IoE is making a significant impact across government as organizations begin using converged resources to shape their IT infrastructure.

For example, Hardik Bhatt, Chief Information Officer for the State of Illinois, spoke recently with FutureStructure about how smarter infrastructure is helping to improve the lives of city residents. With smart street lighting systems, cities can save money by eliminating waste, help citizens feel safer and allow local businesses can tap into the connected infrastructure to build apps using the available data and network.

Federal agencies are also tapping into the power of IoE and orchestrating their cloud, big data and mobile environments. Orchestrating the converged ecosystem, the DoD is connecting the battlefield in ways that are fundamentally changing today’s military operations. Enhanced sensor communications are helping the Department of Defense (DoD) improve monitoring, both on and off the battlefield, with systems that communicate across intelligent networks to increase both visibility to threats as well as improving operational efficiency through better decision making ability. Sensor based systems and video have revolutionized remote healthcare services. In addition, General Services Administration Smart Buildings offer improved management and energy efficiency capabilities. Pressure readings and valve adjustments can be done from a network operations center instead of in person and occupancy sensors can be used to provide optimum lighting during daytime while saving energy.

Build Your Convergence Roadmap Today

Convergence is the key to unlocking the true value of the IoE. Governments with converged technology infrastructure environments will enjoy greater agility and efficiency through aligned resources. Those seeking to achieve maximum value from IoE should develop a convergence roadmap that addresses improvements in the underlying cloud, big data, and mobility services that power IoE. This plan should include an assessment of your current technology assets and capabilities, define what you want to achieve with each technology architecture, identify the workflows and process that will be impacted and build an IT strategy that embraces automation and an application-centric approach to ensure the applications and devices in your environment work together.

To learn more about this new age of convergence and how your public sector organization can benefit from the $4.6 trillion opportunity that IoE presents over the next decade, go to cisco.com/convergence. Additionally, check out some top predictions for the IoE era.

 

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Congratulations FCW Federal 100 Award Winners

Earlier this month, FCW announced the 2015 winners of its prestigious Federal 100 Awards. In its 26th year, the Fed 100 program has evolved to become one of the most recognizable achievements in the federal IT market. These awards honor individuals from government, industry and academia who have had a significant impact on how federal agencies leverage technology systems and services. Winners are selected for their progressive efforts and demonstrating innovative thinking in the federal IT community. In short, these are the individuals directly influencing how technology is being used to transform agencies’ operations and help them achieve mission success.

Here at Cisco, we are fortunate to have had fantastic customers and employees recognized for their contributions over the years. This year, I’m very pleased to congratulate Cisco’s own Larry Payne, Area Vice President for U.S. Federal Sales, as well as Dr. Himanshu Singh, Associate Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAAHS) for their selections as Fed100 Award recipients. Read More »

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Navigating the Journey to the Cloud

Over the years, cloud computing has been at the center of emerging trends including big data, mobility, security and Internet of Things (IoT). Today’s cloud hosting technology feature capabilities such as rapid elasticity, resource pooling and on-demand self-service. Cloud providers are offering customers the ability to consume theses services with flexible service level agreements. Across government, agencies are more empowered than ever to select, implement and utilize these capabilities to efficiently deliver citizen services and transform the business of government.

However, there are important questions about costs and capabilities that cloud adoptees must answer when creating their strategy and choosing their provider.

  1. What does it cost to deploy the services? What are the costs of the onboarding, and potentially, the off-boarding processes?
  2. Do the cloud service capabilities align with the problem that you’re trying to solve?
  3. Is the cloud provider capable of delivering the specific services and analytical tools your agency needs?

Read More »

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User Behavior and Training Critical to Secure Mobility

Worker mobility has become an essential practice for government agencies. From teleworking on the road to accessing critical data on your smart phone, mobility increases productivity and employee satisfaction. And the trend toward mobility is growing. In fact, the Cisco Visual Networking Index predicts there will be more than 10 billion mobile devices worldwide by 2017. With the increased proliferation of mobile devices comes the need to ensure that appropriate policies and procedures are in place so agencies can take advantage of increased capabilities while still maintaining high levels of security.

By and large, government agencies are doing a good job of balancing the need for mobility with security requirements. However, according to a new study by Mobile Work Exchange, which was commissioned by Cisco, 41 percent of government employees are putting agencies at risk with secure mobility habits. Clearly, there is some room for improvement. MWEhotzone

The study used the Secure Mobilometer, an online self-assessment tool, to capture data from end-users and agencies. The tool ranked their mobility habits based on practices of user inputs, password protection, data loss prevention, mobile device policies and security training.

Read More »

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