The Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority (SIPA) and its partner, Colorado Interactive dba Colorado.gov, have offered up a new content management system (CMS) using Drupal. Drupal provides a modern, easy-to-use CMS that allows government partners across the State of Colorado to create content rich websites. SIPA serves more than two hundred CMS sites for state… Keep reading →
Purdue University Software Toolkit Provides Visual Analytics to Aid Law Enforcement, First-RespondersBy businesswire
Purdue University researchers have developed a new tool for law enforcement officers and disaster assistance first-responders to reduce crime and assist people. The tool is called the Visual Analytics Law Enforcement Toolkit, or VALET. Developed at Purdue’s Homeland Security Center of Excellence, the toolkit software provides real-time data so officers can analyze high-volume criminal, traffic… Keep reading →
Cisco Chairman and Chief Executive John Chambers is expected to announce plans today for transitioning the networking giant into a company focused primarily on supplying data analysis systems and services to government and large businesses.
“The days of the boxes are over,” said Chambers in a just-published interview with The New York Times.
Cisco has successfully navigated numerous technology transitions with a steady strategy of acquisitions that have helped expand Cisco’s digital presence well beyond the router boxes that keep Internet traffic flowing.
Chambers, however, said that the global revolution in mobile devices and sensors, and the routing of massive volumes of data to centralized processing centers, is altering the landscape and the economic equations for leading technology companies, such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Oracle, as well as for Cisco.
“Transitions are happening at a faster pace than ever before,” he told The New York Times.
Chambers has been a relentless champion for helping large organizations harness information technology to work more effectively, including his own.
But the commoditization and consumerization of IT has put pressure on Cisco to reorganize for the next wave of technology demands. Chambers is betting much of that demand will come from finding smarter ways of capturing and analyzing the data that rides on much of the equipment Cisco originally produced and installed.
As part of that strategy, Cisco is reorganizing with the goal of concentrating on helping government and large businesses handle projects such as designing and managing systems to handle traffic or clean water across entire cities more efficiently.
He also layed out a vision for working with government officials and civil engineering companies to create networks of sensors and data analysis systems that would help organizations set up more efficient mining, manufacturing and distribution systems.
How successful Cisco will be in shifting to a software-driven business model remains more than a casual question in light of the turmoil that IBM endured, and more recently HP continues to face following its $11 billion purchase of Autonomy.
Chambers responds to those and other concerns in the article, saying Cisco’s talent, product and corporate connections give them closer access to the needs of their customers. Read the original article here. Keep reading →
Open source software has long been touted as the antidote to monolithic, buggy, and security-challenged software packages developed by the industry’s 800-pound gorillas.
But a presentation from the National Security Agency (NSA) during a technology symposium last week presented a stark warning for the proponents of open source software: Get your house in order because sooner or later government and industry customers are going to demand verifiable information about where your software came from, who developed it, who had access to the code, and whether or not you can vouch for its security. Keep reading →
Choosing the best software for soldiers on the battlefield is becoming as important as the weapons they use. But it’s also becoming an increasingly complicated supply challenge for military commanders and acquisition officials, according to defense experts.
There’s little question that real-time information – and the ability to analyze and act on that information quickly – is becoming the ultimate weapon for warfighters. Keep reading →
Last week I read about a research team at Harvard led by George Church that encoded Church’s next book into the molecules of DNA. As the write-up in the Harvard Medical School web page, said:
“Although George Church’s next book doesn’t hit the shelves until Oct. 2, it has already passed an enviable benchmark: 70 billion copies-roughly triple the sum of the top 100 books of all time.” Keep reading →
If the Department of Defense couldn’t account for the tanks, planes and weapons it purchased, there would be hearings and heads would roll. If the Social Security Administration didn’t track who paid into the system and who is eligible for benefits, the system would collapse. If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission didn’t have systems in place to track the nation’s fissionable material…the public outcry would be deafening.
In truth, no government agency can function without the ability to see, manage and account for the core assets critical to its mission. But in essence, that’s what’s happening right now with the federal government’s software assets. And legislators are getting wind of this disconcerting fact, and they’re taking action.
It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who knows their way around an iPhone that apps have infiltrated how we live, work and govern. “There’s an app for that” applies to every aspect of our lives, our jobs, and our federal government. Without software, the very cogs of government would not function.
And the government buys a lot of software. According to research firm IDC the federal government will spend more than $9 billion on software this year. And much of that spend will be wasted.
Most organizations spend too much – anywhere from 10% to 30% too much – on software, based on experience. It’s wasted when organizations purchase too much software that they don’t need – turning software into “shelfware.” It’s also wasted when organizations don’t understand and apply their license entitlements, such as vendor-specific product use rights, and when enterprises don’t purchase the right license types for their users.
The problem is so pervasive mainly due to the complexity involved in tracking and managing software licensing and usage.
“It sounds counter intuitive, but it’s very difficult to know how much software an organization actually has versus how much it actually uses. And if you don’t know this, you can’t accurately determine how much you need to buy,” said Amy Konary, research vice president, Software Licensing at IDC.
“License agreements are enormously complex and can be hundreds of pages long and contain very detailed rules around installation and usage that must be adhered to. When you consider that the federal government runs at least thousands of different software applications, managing this asset becomes extremely complex,” she said.
But increasingly, federal agencies are becoming bolder about tackling the problem – because the payoff can be so substantial.
For instance, one US military agency we’ve worked with was facing budget cuts of one third, or $15 million, in its IT operational costs for fiscal year 2012. In order to avoid slashing mission-critical services, the agency got creative in looking for new pools of waste – and discovered that software license optimization was an untapped resource for significant cost reduction.
The agency piloted the concept, by focusing on optimizing just one of the hundreds of applications that it runs – in its case, Autodesk design software. In the process, it slashed the number of licenses it needed by three quarters, and reduced its annual software maintenance bill by more than $3 million, for a total 6-year realized savings of more than $17 million in maintenance costs – for just this one piece of software.
The agency now believes that it can achieve its budget cut objective solely through centralized software license optimization.
Once an organization arms itself with visibility into how much software it actually needs, how much it uses, how much it owns and what its usage rights are, the potential savings are often staggering. The magnitude of this agency’s cost-savings is typical for what we see in both private enterprise as well as the federal government.
Feds Are Getting the Message
Government officials are waking up to the opportunity. With acrimony in Congress at an all-time high, the appetite for compromise at an all time low, and the drumbeat for budget reductions relentless, the lure of cutting billions of dollars in unnecessary waste from the federal budget – without controversy or the need for political brinkmanship – is irresistible.
On September 21, 2011, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved its version of the DHS Authorization Bill (S. 1546). The bill included language that requires the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the Department to achieve the greatest possible economies of scale and cost-savings in the procurement of software licenses.
Congressman Joe Walsh (R-IL) also connected the dots between federal spending waste and software licenses. In October, 2011, he announced the successful introduction of an amendment to H.R. 3116 in the House version of the Department of Homeland Security authorization bill to eliminate wasteful software license spending.
Agency and department heads are also getting the message. In April, 2012, Department of Defense CIO Teri Takai, as part of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing examining efforts to reduce waste in IT spending, was asked about the department’s efforts to improve software license optimization.
“The department understands the importance of effective IT asset management in order to avoid over buying or over deployment of commercial software… To this end, the department proactively shares best practices, such as the Navy Facilities Engineering Command’s enterprise license optimization approach, with and among Defense Components. Establishing and enhancing an IT asset management framework for use in the department that includes software license management optimized at the enterprise level is an element of the emerging DoD Joint Information Environment.”
And more recently the Senate Committee on Armed Services took notice and has proposed language to ferret out waste in federal software procurement. In Section 931 of National Defense Authorization Act for 2013, the senate version of the bill text directs the CIO of the Department of Defense to conduct an inventory of software licenses and consolidate the department’s software spend.
Similar reforms in software procurement are being considered in other legislation, and will be watched closely by budget hawks this fall when Congress convenes after recess.
Perhaps the momentum behind software license optimization is building because it is so fruitful and yet non-controversial.
“Businesses and governments are now awakening to the extent of the waste that exists in most software procurement processes,” said Konary. “If you can apply some best practices and technology to solve an expensive problem that at one time was unknown or appeared intractable – why wouldn’t you?”
Steve Schmidt is vice president of corporate development at Flexera Software.
One of the many extraordinary aspects of NASA’s successful landing of the Curiosity rover onto the surface of Mars Aug. 5 was ensuring the spacecraft had the information it would need to make its own decisions in the final moments of its descent without any help from mission controllers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. And at least some of the credit can be attributed to the advanced work of two earthbound high performance computing systems called Nebula and Galaxy.
“What’s most nerve-racking is that the first time Curiosity goes through the whole landing sequence is on Mars,” said Ben Cichy, JPL’s chief software engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory, which includes the Curiosity rover and its scientific instruments. “By the time we heard about it, it was already over.” Keep reading →
Thanks to lightning-fast software from the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), if a truck bomb was discovered in Lower Manhattan we will now be able to predict the likely damage patterns in the surrounding areas, and prioritize the first responders’ activities long before the bomb’s acoustic shockwave ricocheted out at the speed of sound. Keep reading →
Congressman Joe Walsh (IL-8) is chairman of the Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access
On Oct 13, 2011, I announced the successful introduction of an amendment to eliminate wasteful software license spending in the House version of the Department of Homeland Security authorization bill. The language of that bill provides, among other things, that the chief information officer of the DHS: Keep reading →