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Government IT and Cloud Computing

September 25, 2009

Government plans and their commitment for cloud computing seems very promising. I do certainly appreciate and congratulate the government leaders and their courageous and bold steps in driving the Cloud adoption. During the times of crisis, we need innovations like this. Recent announcement by Vivek Kundra to source services from the public cloud is definitely an attractive model but there are many challenges below the surface.

My sense is that many government workloads need to run on a controlled environment and their users demand greater degree of control. There may be many bumps on their way to use the public clouds due to their existing assets or contracts or due to data security and access challenges. They may have to run their applications or services in a “private cloud” for a while. Then the bigger issue is how to peer, monitor, and manage the “private cloud” infrastructure across many agencies owned assets and/or including resources from outside the government agencies. Even in the private industries, we face many daunting challenges with existing environments; issues with software licenses, already committed support/infrastructure contracts, hardwired applications and security and access control nightmares across different data centers. I am not sure how easy it is to transition the legacy and more complex, government-owned infrastructure to a “private cloud”? Then comes the much bigger challenge: how successful they can be in establishing the governance of a private cloud infrastructure involving several agencies?

Nonetheless, there is a tremendous amount of excitement, interest, and opportunities around the Cloud Computing. To keep this wave of innovation in IT transformation moving forward, there are many issues that need to be addressed. It is time for all private industries and government to come to the aid of working together to define interoperable, secure cloud-serving infrastructure.

Padmasree Warrior, Cisco CTO, writes on her blog, “We are already working with a variety of organizations to build what we call private clouds. Private clouds combine a cloud operating system with Cisco’s cloud internetworking technology portfolio to link agency and service provider resources into a single agency-managed cloud environment. This cloud is then available to any device, anywhere via standard TCP/IP networking technologies. Importantly, the cloud also gives IT the ability to reach out and leverage the resources of cloud service providers. Private Clouds fundamentally change the dynamic between IT and the rest of the organization by reducing inefficiencies and increasing the rate of business innovation”.

Collective innovation like this would help us move forward and together we all could create and claim huge value from this opportunity.


Talking to Myself. Reinforcing My Values. Then Me to We.

September 19, 2009

Soliloquy. Talking to myself. Back in Chicago for weekend. Weekends in Chicago are fabulous and gives me an opportunity to critically look back and find better ways to do my job. It is a great time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Surprisingly, there are always better ways to do things. But we only accept what we are comfortable with. Conformance bias. Lot of room for improvement. But, we never put effort to listen to our inner-self.

I took a long walk on the shores of Lake Michigan. It is refreshing. A friend walked with me thrown a different perspective at things of interest to me. I am Looking myself into a mirror and asking myself tough questions. Actively listening to what my inner-self is signaling or trying to warn me. I have lot to learn from myself, people around me, and my own mistakes I make everyday. How can I afford to miss learning from my own mistakes.

This weekend I am onto mastering the art of interpreting ratios, numbers and figuring out what makes sense and what doesn’t; how to make change work – leading change, understanding what lies in the heart of change, how to do it right, and how to make it sustainable. Clearly, leaders are not born, they are made. I am on to a long journey to get my grips on how to transform and create value to shareholders; and learn how to do it ethically, responsibly and legally. It is a long and exciting journey ahead. I am deep in the jungle. It takes same amount of pain and peril to move forward as it takes to run backwards. So, no looking backward. Marching forward with enriched wisdom and courage. I am confident that I can make a whole lot of difference with all my new wisdom.

Do Standards Stifle Innovation?

September 16, 2009

Attended federal cloud computing announcement today at NASA. White House CIO, Vivek Kundra, revealed ambitious plan for overall government adoption of Cloud computing and simplification of complex IT procurement process. I also attended private roundtable with Mr. Kundra along with folks from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM, Cisco, SGI, Sun, Eucalyptus, Verari, Symantec, and Salesforce.

Mr. Kundra posed an interesting challenge to the Roundtable participants asking what are the top three things industry recommends to him for Federal Cloud success.  Recommendations are: (1). Use focused approach in migration to Cloud based services. Categorize and prioritize. Examples EMAIL cloud, Web Cloud, HPC Cloud etc. Knock off low hanging fruits first. Create success stories.(2) Learn form Internet success and define Simple Standards (3) Market success stories to engage new adoptions. While most of us in the room agree on the need for simple standards (Sergey Brin emphasized the word “simple” and I completely agree with him. Simple is beautiful. Let innovators add more flesh) for interoperable cloud services, Amazon expressed concern that standards would stifle innovation. EC2 is good for dishing out nodes. It quenched the thirst for getting nodes up and running quickly. API is one small piece of the big puzzle. Cloud is <b>not</b> about just virtualization nor dishing out nodes on demand. It is a paradigm shift in the way services are designed, developed, and delivered. Internet success came from very simple protocol called TCP/IP. Standards in fact sparked great deal of innovation(take TCP/IP, HTTP, WebDav, SMTP) to transform the Internet. If companies need to stay relevant, then they need to be open(truly open) and standards based. Do you think Amazon can sustain their first mover advantage forever?

Cloud Computing and Governance

September 12, 2009

Cloud computing is a major technological paradigm shift after the Internet. While Internet provided the high-speed inter-connects across global digital villages, now cloud computing is transforming the way we serve information, knowledge, connections, and business transactions without worrying about building your own data centers.  As cloud computing becomes more commonplace in the lives of everyday consumers, government is considering bringing or defining new policies to govern the emerging cloud computing realm. These polices might very well help us to secure economic and technological dominance in the burgeoning realm of cloud computing, or it could fall behind the rest of the world. If government adopts Cloud computing, soon it becomes a strategic infrastructure for the country. That leads to more control on how providers on how they build and operate their Clouds. In my view, defining “just enough governance” and securing the critical infrastructure and providing the trusted access, assertion, audit, peering, and control of the cloud infrastructure is critical to cloud computing success. Do we need ICANN like governing body? Do we need an independent clearing house to help us to verify and audit identities in the Cloud?  What do you think?

When we were sleeping ….

August 24, 2009

…. a massive earthquake reduced the financial world to rubble. First, Globalization changed the business landscape – intensified global competition energy constraints, and politically instability will keep the tectonic plates keep shifting all the time. Second, the global economic crisis also challenged the long believed notion of market’s invisible hand serves as an instrument to correct the imbalance. Uncertainty is an opportunity for those who are prepared. Third, more and more government regulation is creeping into corporate governance. For foreseeable future, government is going to take a keep interest in how businesses are run. We all need to learn new skills and mind-set that will allow us to partner with government than fend it off. Finally, we, human beings, are fundamentally irrational and motivated by unconscious cognitive biases. Even after we emerge from the recessions, our, as consumers, behavior is now shifted more towards thriftiness and desire for simplicity.

When the economy recovers, do you think things will be back to normal as usual? Would like to hear your views and experiences dealing with crises, managing crises, and managing collaboration and innovation without loosing our competitive edge.

Share your views, experiences and stories.

Do You Twoodle?

August 22, 2009

What a week! I have been struggling this week (and many weeks, may be months, before) to focus on too many problems – there are way too many problems. Some problems are breeding new problems. I am less than pleased with Status Quos or Sacred Cows. Nor happy with mediocre results. Since I left Oracle in 2003, I can’t settle for anything less than exceptional. I set my bar so high. All these inspire me to take the road less travelled by. This weekend I am going to force myself in a meditative state to force my mind to gather together conscious thoughts from all that is happening around me and vast unconscious information to create something radically different. I know I need to slow down and give my mind a chance to let creative juices flow in.

I know I have been living in my analytical mind and missing out on the creative musing that opens up to new ideas. It is a beautiful Saturday morning. I took a long walk. When I go on a walk, my mind leaps ahead of my educated incapacities and present me with vivid images and ideas out of nowhere. There is no doubt that walking alone leaves the mind free to observe and dream. I believe it is more important that we get out and walk whether alone or not. If you are suffering from too much of educated incapacities, take some one with you for a walk to enable you to see something unusual or particularly interesting(not just gazing at things – open your mind and heart to see things not visible to your naked eye). Sharing these things can add to our experience. Pick a walking partner who will allow quiet spaces along the way. Or simply walk alone.

This is something I do all the time. If I can’t solve any problem, I take a long walk and come back and to my surprise I can find a better solution. If I get stressed up, I take a long walk. I love to see my mind wander and come back with random bits and bytes of ideas. I am wondering all the time how should I create a space for my alpha waves in my brain and stop letting my brain take a ride on theta (drowsiness) and delta (deep sleep) waves. Walking with constant inflow of new images and ideas, give us new thoughts that nourish us. It replenishes our over tapped creative well and gives us a sense of whatever you call it. We are reminded we are a physical being who is part of something far greater. It opens our senses to the world around us and to the world within. We become larger than we were, something more. We see with perceptive eyes. We become aware of our self in the greater scheme of things. We create a fertile ground for fostering creativity, imagination, and compassion.

I am sitting in my backyard and carefully listening to the bird chirps. Every time I sit and listen to bird chirps or watch bird fly in formation, that generate huge burst of alpha waves and inspires me to wander all over the place I never wandered before. What a great refreshing morning? I can see grass grow. I can smell the things I can’t smell before. Though clouds out side pulls me back into the musings of Cloud computing, I am trying to control my thoughts to stay with me and listen to my heart.

I have a very bad habit of journaling. i write everything that comes to my mind. I let thoughts come in without an immediate purpose or with any pressure to accomplish. I write something. It doesn’t matter if I grumble about something – planning my next week or describing a view out side of my library room window musing at the mountains. I believe that writing let go of those unresolved things that fill my mind. It then gives me a tool for gathering my insights and dreams as well as sorting things out. Sometimes regrets and irritations would dominate most of my notes. As I let those accumulated latent energies to flow out, then I started to create more room for appreciation of the beauty around my creative thoughts and me. I am reading through volumes of these notes and started to see solutions to most of the problems I have been trying to solve for weeks, if not months.

I feel so relaxed! Go twoodle (I coined this term meaning “act of taking a long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering without using Twitter, Google, and Web searching to generate bursts of alpha waves to simulate creativity, imagination, and compassion“) then?

Leaders in the crisis

August 20, 2009

According to McKinsey(McKinsey August 2009), Many executives have found it difficult to look beyond addressing the short-term effects of the crisis. More notably, satisfaction levels are markedly lower when executives rate their overall performance. Relatively few executives are pleased with their performance when it comes to positioning their businesses for growth, retaining and attracting talent, and developing leaders—areas that are important for their companies’ chances to thrive after the crisis. Carving time out of operating routines to address these issues will be a key to recovery. Further, satisfaction levels drop even more dramatically when respondents rate the performance of their bosses. Twenty percent of C-level and senior executives and 30 percent of middle managers aren’t at all satisfied with their superiors’ performance—another indication of middle managers’ overall lack of connection to their current companies.
Areas of concern to executives include:

  • Maintaining good relationships with external stakeholders, shareholders
  • Controlling financial and operational risk
  • providing inspirational leadership
  • Retaining, attracting talented people
  • Positioning company for growth
  • Developing people’s leadership capabilities so they can manage crisis
  • Downsizing to cut costs