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Cloud Computing Confusion: Inconsistent Terminology is Muddying the Water

The federal cloud computing market is nothing if not confusing. Despite the best efforts of technical personnel at the National Institute of Standards and Technology to define what cloud is, the cloud market has come to encompass goods and services well beyond the narrow definitions of Infrastructure, Platform, and Software-as-a-Service. Understanding this is important for industry, because the complexity of the cloud market means finding business opportunities is that much harder.

Take for example the booming business of migrating agency datasets to big hosting companies like Amazon Web Services. AWS provides the cloud (the IaaS), but another vendor does the migration work. In this context, what part of the work should be considered cloud computing? The hosting services provided by AWS are clearly cloud, as defined by the NIST, but without the data migration work done by the industry partner, AWS provides nothing. The industry partner is a critical piece of the cloud puzzle, so should the migration work not also be considered part of the cloud market?

At Deltek, we call these types of services “cloud enabling” and we consider them to be part of the cloud computing paradigm. Therefore, we include spending on those services in our analysis of the federal cloud market. So, if cloud enabling services fit into a broader definition of the market, is your business development team searching for opportunities to do this kind of work?

Services like data migration are one shade of gray among many. An even more challenging trend that has emerged within the last couple of years is the use of the term “cloud” to describe a network of communications hardware and switches. This term first came to my attention in the early stages of the Defense Department’s implementation of multi-protocol label switching routers for the Joint Information Environment. Referred to as an MPLS cloud, the “cloudiness” of the MPLS gear appears to refer to the scalability of the hardware, but does the MPLS cloud really fit the definitions of cloud provided by NIST? The DoD is now taking the cloud analogy one step further, referring to sensor arrays as clouds. Are sensor arrays cloud computing? Their description as cloud confuses the issue quite a bit.

So What?

Seeking clarity in the terminology is not simply the complaint of a picky analyst. Consider the following. Using cloud terms for things that are not cloud has a serious impact on our understanding of the market and the size of the business opportunity related to cloud. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration has requested $24.3 million in FY 2016 for its Terminal Voice Switch Replacement program. The TVSR “replaces aging and obsolete voice switches” related to air traffic control. These switches are basically boxes of hardware that enable the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

In its FY 2016 IT budget request, the Department of Transportation requested $71.5 million for cloud computing. The question must be asked, however, if a collection of FAA switching hardware constitutes a cloud. If so, then cloud service providers may consider the size of the DOT cloud business opportunity to be $71.5 million. If not, the FY 2016 cloud opportunity at DOT is $47.2 million.

Company leadership uses these figures to set expectations for the business opportunity available to their sales teams. Let’s say your company’s team is expected to capture 5% of the total cloud spend at the DOT and compensation levels are set accordingly. Does that total equal $3.5 million (5% of $71.5 million) or $2.35 million (5% of $47.2 million)? The distinction matters if your company doesn’t happen to sell the switching equipment that the DOT calls cloud.

The correct use of terminology is important because the definition of cloud computing informs business decisions. If the definition is flawed, the resulting decision is as well. If that matters to your sales team and bottom line, you can see why the terminology matters and why clearing up the confusion is relevant.

 

Big Data Investments are Accelerating across the DoD

In a recent blog posting that received wide industry attention, I detailed how the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is investing big money in research and development efforts related to big data.  An observation discussed in that post concerned the fact that advanced analytics and technologies like distributed computing are becoming entwined with modern, networked weapons systems. The incorporation of big data is a function not only of the growing complexity of weapons, but also of the command and control capabilities that today’s U.S. military is employing.  Facing a falling number of military personnel, all branches of the Defense establishment are turning to networked and unmanned weapons commanded and controlled from a distance to offset the strain on American fighting power.

In this context, DARPA’s R&D efforts are the “tip of the spear” when it comes to figuring out how big data technology can enhance combat capabilities.  DARPA is not the only Defense organization, however, that is dedicating R&D dollars in this area. The military services are also investing and in general the funding flowing into those research efforts is growing annually.

 

As the numbers in the chart above demonstrate, all of the military services are funding R&D efforts related to big data.  The data in the table above reflects projects in the FY 2016 Defense Research, Development, Test, and Enhancement (RDT&E) budget request that are dedicated primarily to some type of big data R&D.  Put otherwise, developing a big data-related capability is the primary objective of the effort. In addition to these primary efforts, there is a plethora of other research programs that include big data technologies as part of the effort.  The FY 2016 requested funding numbers for those programs with a related big data component are shown below.


What to make of these figures?

First, when the primary objective of a project (Table 1) is developing a big data solution, the Navy is leading the way among the military services.  A big reason for this is the Navy’s push to employ unmanned systems – aerial, surface, and undersea – on a much greater scale than at present.  The development of these systems requires an incredible amount of money, with work focused on enhanced C2 capabilities, cyber security, and analytics for parsing intel data gathered by these systems.  This trend is in evidence in the Air Force and Army as well, just not to the extent it is in the Navy, so if your company works in this area, it is a green field.

Second, from FY 2015 to FY 2016, the Army intends to nearly double its investment in primary big data related R&D (Table 1), reflecting a focus on parsing intel data and on utilizing big data for cyber security operations, especially automated network monitoring and defensive response.

Third, the Air Force is the only service that will see investment in primary big data R&D fall in FY 2016. This is due to some slight cuts in multi-source fusion technologies research and in the evaluation of advanced countermeasure concepts.  When it comes to big data R&D related to other efforts (Table 2), the total planned investment grows significantly, with a special focus on the automation of complex networks, analysis and use of sensor fusion technology, and exploitation of intel data.

In conclusion, looking at this one piece of the DoD big data market we can see that the military services intend to spend at least $159 million in FY 2016 on R&D related primarily to a big data objective.  At most, they intend to spend almost $725 million, if we count programs with a related big data component.  Keep in mind that these numbers do not include present investments in operations and maintenance and procurement programs. Big data R&D is thus a growing area of Defense IT spending in an otherwise flat market.

 

Senior Army Officials Outline Modernization Priorities in Senate Testimony

In testimony that flew under the radar a few weeks back, four senior Army commanders gave statements before the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Air-Land concerning the Fiscal Year 2016 budget request and the U.S. Army’s Strategy, Readiness, and Equipment Modernization. In that testimony, the Army’s officials made clear the detrimental impact that sequestration and the declining Army budget is having on the force’s readiness. They also outlined how the Army is shifting funding to priorities that will enable it to maximize the use of the budget dollars it receives.

The priorities outlined during the testimony were as follows:

First, the Army will fully fund its Combat Training Centers (CTC). Specifically, more money will be dedicated to refresh technology at the National Training Center, Joint Readiness Training Center, and the Joint Multi-National Readiness Center. A particular area of investment will be new Instrumentation and Training Aids, Devices, Simulators, and Simulations (ITADSS) used to train Brigade Combat Teams. This priority fits well with previous statements by Army officials specifying that spending on virtual training tools and systems will be a focus in the coming years. This spending should benefit vendors providing cloud-based training capabilities as well, as the Army seeks to make use of the latest technology.

The Maneuver CTCs will also refresh obsolete instrumentation data and Observer/Controller Communications System network infrastructure that supports Forward Operating Base operations and Mission Rehearsal Exercises. The current system has experienced network outages that inhibit efficient training operations. Enhancing network security capabilities – wired and wireless – will be a priority here.

Second, the Army will protect its investments in Science and Technology (S&T) to enable the use of next generation capabilities like combat vehicle technology, lethality technologies, rotary aviation, watercraft, and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance assets. For information technology vendors this means a focus on mobility and on good and services essential to mission command, such as “software applications for the Common Operating Environment, operations/intelligence network convergence efforts, and platform integration of network components in support of Operational Capability Sets in expeditionary tactical command posts.”

Third, the Army will retain a particular focus on ISR assets like unmanned systems.  This priority is reflected in the FY 2016 Army budget request for Research and Development. For R&D programs directly related to unmanned systems, the Army is requesting $218 million in FY 2016. Taking into account those programs which have a related unmanned system component, the requested budget climbs to just over $285 million. These totals are down from the more than $300 million the Army spent annually on unmanned systems in FY 2014 and 2015. Nevertheless, the requested amount indicates continued strong interest as the Army seeks ways to use technology to make up for the declining number of troops in the ranks.

Summing up, Army officials stressed that they will protect investments in technologies, particularly commercial-off-the-shelf technologies, that will help U.S. soldiers maintain overmatch capabilities against adversaries. The technologies mentioned during the testimony did not include cloud computing or big data analytics, but industry may rest assured that the Army is very interested in both of these things, especially for the collection and analysis of intelligence data that boosts the combat efficiency and lethality of U.S. forces. 

 

Army Investment in Unmanned Systems Benefits IT Vendors

The U.S. Army today faces significant budgetary and technological challenges. The fiscal limitations alone cannot be underestimated. With the Army’s annual budget falling the last several years, military leaders have been forced to cut both programs and personnel. Current projections show that by FY 2019 the number of active Army personnel will slide to 420,000 troops, down 14.3% from the current level of 490,000. Rapid technological change is also altering the circumstances under which Army personnel operate, as potential adversaries with advanced technical capabilities, particularly in the area of electronic warfare, challenge U.S. military supremacy.

In response to these challenges, the Army is turning to ever more advanced platforms for intelligence gathering and electronic warfare, particularly platforms that are unmanned and/or robotic. These platforms are unlike previous generations of technology in that they continuously generate vast amounts of data. This data requires analysis, which is a potential boon to vendors that offer advanced analytic capabilities. There are, however, other areas related to unmanned systems where information technology vendors can find business opportunity. These include modeling and simulation, algorithm design, software development, autonomy/artificial intelligence, testing, machine learning, cyber security, and electronic warfare-cyber convergence.

The Army’s investment in unmanned systems is symptomatic of the fundamental transformation of modern warfare into a seamlessly intertwined network of weapons systems, surveillance platforms, and IT capabilities. It therefore behooves those of us tracking federal IT to keep an eye on unmanned systems spending for the business opportunities it presents.

The table below shows programs directly related to the development and fielding of unmanned systems, as listed in the Army’s Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation budget request for FY 2016.


Generally speaking, this part of the Army’s budget request includes dollars that will be spent on research and development efforts. It is often considered to be “new” money the Army is asking for, unlike the funding it requests for Operations and Maintenance, Military Construction, etc. As we can see, the Army invests a lot on unmanned systems. This RDT&E spending amounted to nearly $263 million in FY 2014 alone. In FY 2015, the Army anticipates spending almost $289 million. In FY 2016, however, investment drops-off to roughly $218 million. There is no data to explain this decline, but my assumption is that planners have factored in the threat of sequestration.

It is worth noting that the development effort surrounding every one of these systems has one or more IT components related to it. These components include systems design, software engineering, and testing, among a myriad of other activities. The work is generally centered at the Army Research Laboratory, although considerable effort also takes place at the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC). Finally, the programs listed above are those which deal directly with unmanned systems. There is also work related to unmanned systems in programs where unmanned systems are but one part of a larger effort. For these programs, the Army has requested $285 million in FY 2016, making the pot that much sweeter in the coming fiscal year.

 

Big Data Programs at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

The Department of Defense is investing big in goods and services related to big data. This investment, however, is not spread evenly across the department. It exists instead in certain agencies where the spending is deep and related to a variety of other programs. One of these agencies is Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, as it is commonly known. DARPA does research and assessments related to the applicability of cutting edge technologies to U.S. national security, including unmanned systems, robotics, cyber security, mobility, networking and computing technologies, and others.

Underlying the research and development work at DARPA are significant investments in advanced algorithms, analytics, and data fusion that illustrate the importance of “big data” to the efficient use of next generation systems and weapons platforms. Put differently, more and more of DoD’s weapons and communications systems, as well as the platforms that carry them, are becoming extremely complex. They are now so complex, in fact, that big data analytics and algorithms are necessary for them to function properly. Big data analytics and algorithms are thus a foundational technology without which an increasing number of advanced DoD weapons systems and platforms would not function.

Knowing this makes a big difference when it comes to understanding where business opportunity can be found at the DoD. Big data is such a complex subject, and its uses are so varied, that it is rare if an acquisition calls explicitly for a specific solution by name or the term “big data.” This makes selling big data solutions and services to defense customers tricky.

Getting back to DARPA, the fact is that big data is in use across the agency. It appears primarily in R&D work related to software development, algorithm design, and data fusion efforts. The two tables below identify programs that have big data requirements related to them. Table 1 lists DARPA programs in which big data goods or services are the primary requirement. Table 2 shows DARPA programs in which big data requirements are but one of many different pieces of work. These programs have been drawn from the DARPA Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Budget Request for FY 2016.


As we can see in Table 1, spending rises from approximately $97 million in FY 2014, to the $164 million that DARPA forecasts in FY 2016. This represents a projected 69% increase over the course of three fiscal years.

Turning to the list of programs that includes both big data specific projects and those with a big data component (the gold lines in Table 2 below), we can see that the trend is the same – spending at DARPA on big data related R&D is on the rise. The increase is a more modest 21% from FY 2014 to FY 2016, but this is still a positive return in an overall declining DoD technology market.


Summing up, the DoD’s spending on big data, particularly on R&D, is rising. Because money is flowing to R&D efforts, the fact that the work is related to big data may be hidden in general project descriptions. The best thing to do when searching for big data related work is to seek out complexity. Where agencies like DARPA are conducting R&D work on complex systems, the integration of massive volumes of sensor data, the development of advanced algorithms for controlling unmanned systems, and/or fusing large data sets into common pictures, that is where you’ll find big data related spending.

 

Takeaways from the New Army Cloud Computing Strategy

The Army Office of the Chief Information Officer/G-6 recently released its enterprise cloud computing strategy outlining the service’s concept for using cloud computing in the years ahead. The Army Cloud Computing Strategy (ACCS) reveals that the service remains committed to several basic steps that will enable it to deliver cloud-based capabilities across the enterprise.  These steps include:

  • Continuing to enhance the throughput capacity of its networks by implementing multi-protocol label switching routers.
  • Selecting applications that will either be killed or selected for migration to a cloud-based environment.
  • Utilizing data center services provided by the Defense Information Systems Agency to the furthest extent possible.
  • Expanding the development and deployment of cloud-based technologies for disconnected and tactical environments.
  • Ruthlessly standardizing IT hardware on common standards that comply with the Army’s various Common Operating Environments.
  • Implementing the governance processes and procedures necessary for selecting cloud services appropriate to the mission requirement being fulfilled.

In addition to formalizing the foundational aspects for Army’s adoption of cloud, the ACCS makes several things clear about the Army’s intended use of cloud that have implications for the acquisition of those services in the future.

First, cloud computing adoption in the Army will be overseen by the Army Application Migration Business Office – Product Director Enterprise Computing at the Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems. PD EC has been authorized to assist commands with the system and procurement planning necessary for moving applications to the cloud, meaning that vendors should keep close tabs on what’s happening there. It is worth thinking about how Army customers will acquire cloud services with PD EC designated as the coordinating organization. The acquisition of enterprise technology services is PEO EIS’ primary function, strongly suggesting that PD EC will either put a multiple award contract in place to provide vendor migration and other cloud services, or it will use vehicles that are pending and/or are already in place across government.

In this context the follow-on to IT Enterprise Solutions – 2 Services looms large. Not only are PEO EIS vehicles mandated for Army customers, the PEO is also looking for ways to streamline its contract operations. Adding cloud to the services provided by ITES vendors would effectively kill two birds with one stone by using a vehicle already in the process of being competed for the work. This said, the award of ITES-3S is a long way off and protests are guaranteed to hold it up even longer. PD EC is therefore likely to use other procurement tools, like GSA’s IT 70, the Alliant contracts, and/or a blanket purchase agreement to fulfill cloud requirements.

The second revelation from the ACCS is the first detailed listing I’ve seen of the types of systems that the DoD classifies as having a “low” data impact level. These systems, including testing and development efforts, library systems, and public websites are classified at data impact level 2 and are the most likely to be moved to the cloud first. After these systems, the bar rises fairly quickly to data impact level 4 for many training systems, morale systems, and lodging systems.

In short, being certified at the data impact “low” level isn’t likely to generate vendors much cloud business at the DoD. It is much more preferable to be certified at the moderate and high levels of 4 and above.  That is where the real money will be.

 

Software-Defined Networking: The Army Prepares to Reap the Rewards of Joint Modernization

For many years the U.S. Army has been the butt of jokes about the antiquated state of its information technology infrastructure.  Army personnel returning from deployments had better connectivity and IT services available to them in the field than they have in garrison and bandwidth into and out of Army camps, posts, and stations has been measured in megabytes, not gigabytes.  Dedicated Army IT professionals from the CIO/G-6 down to the Program Executive Offices have worked hard to change this situation by implementing initiatives like Defense Enterprise Email and by leading the move to a Joint Information Environment.  In doing so, they have changed the game for the U.S. Army and put the service in an excellent position to advance rapidly down the timeline of technology evolution.

Lest readers think I overstate the case for the Army’s advancements in modernizing its IT infrastructure, I refer them to a procurement that recently appeared.  The Global Enterprise Fabric acquisition (Solicitation #W91RUS15GEF1) demonstrates that the Army’s Network Enterprise Technology Command also sees the advancements that have been made.  NETCOM is seeking to take advantage of those advancements by implementing a software-defined infrastructure that enables centralized management of the JIE, Joint Regional Security Stacks, and Multi-Protocol Label Switching architecture.

That NETCOM is researching the possibility of implementing an enterprise SDN solution speaks volumes about how far the Army’s network modernization has come and where it is going.  The CONUS deployment of MPLS routers across the enterprise is targeted for completion sometime later this calendar year.  Similarly, the standing up of Joint Regional Security Stacks in the CONUS is also slated for later this year.  Add the Army’s recent transition to Defense Enterprise Email and you have a much more secure network with much higher bandwidth.  These network upgrades will also allow the Army to take advantage of cloud computing services offered by the Defense Information Systems Agency and commercial partners.

The Global Enterprise Fabric envisioned by NETCOM will help deliver computing enterprise services in three broad areas - Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Network Services, and Computer Network Defense – all of which are managed and monitored within a software-defined framework.  NETCOM’s turn to SDN is a harbinger of things to come across the DoD.  Deltek’s recent Emerging Federal Technology Markets, 2015 report documented that throughout the federal government two steps are leading agencies to SDN: modernizing IT infrastructure and planning for/adopting cloud computing. Cloud computing is not necessary for an agency to implement SDN, but in evolutionary terms the adoption (or desired adoption) of cloud may be decisive because it spurs on other foundational investments.

As agencies grow more comfortable with cloud computing, their adoption of SDN will increase or, as NETCOM’s Global Enterprise Fabric concept illustrates, their adoption of SDN and cloud computing will go hand-in-hand.  Herein lays the opportunity for those seeking new business.  Agencies already walking the path toward the cloud, particularly the use of Infrastructure-as-a-Service, will already have some idea of the viability of SDN.  Seek out those agencies making IaaS investments and you’ll find those most interested in discussing SDN as the next step.

 

Opportunities for Cloud Providers in the FY 2016 Budget Request

As part of the President’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2016, the Office of Management and Budget released figures for spending on cloud computing that agencies anticipate they will make.  The figures released this year don’t provide the same granularity into spending on service delivery types and deployment models that the same data has provided in past years.  The data does, however, more closely align with spending on other categories of information technology investments in that it has been divided into operations and maintenance (O&M) and development, modernization, and enhancement categories (DME).  Putting spending (FY 2015 estimated and FY 2016 forecast) into O&M and DME buckets helps OMB understand the percentage of overall agency IT dollars that are going into cloud vs. other types of investments. It also helps industry understand where new investments are being made versus spending on steady state programs.

Top Ten Agencies Forecast to Spend on Cloud in FY 2016

Here is a list of the top ten federal agencies by forecast cloud spending in FY 2016. Keep in mind that only Civilian sector agencies were included in the data as the Department of Defense has not yet released detailed information for FY 2016.

The spending forecast in this chart totals just north of $2.4B, representing only a small percentage of what agencies spend annually on IT.  Of the agencies listed, the surprises that stick out to me are Labor and the Office of Personnel Management.  Both of these agencies are small compared to the agencies around them, especially Homeland Security and Treasury, and yet they intend to spend considerable amounts of money on cloud.

Where the New Dollars Are

How much of this spending will be new dollars?  The chart below illustrates these forecast totals in terms of O&M and DME.

As we can see, the forecast spending picture takes on a different flavor once we know where new investment is intended.  From this perspective Labor remains an attractive target for business development efforts; OPM less so.  It is Commerce, though, which emerges as the greenest field of all.

Labor and Commerce: Green Fields for Cloud Providers in FY 2016

The graph below shows the four organizations in the Department of Labor where DME (i.e., new) dollars are forecast to be spent on cloud computing in FY 2016.

The specific programs in each organization slated to receive this funding are:

Departmental Management

  • Digital Government Integrated Platform (DGIP) - $84M
  • Enterprise Consolidated Network (ECN) - $17M                                                                                                                
  • Customer Service Modernization Program (CSMP) - $1M
  • Integrated Acquisition Environment - $1M
  • National Core Financial Management System (Shared service provided by the Department Of Transportation) - $8M

Wage & Hour Division

  • Strategic Enforcement Achieves Compliance System (SEACS) & Prevailing Wage System (PWS) - $3M

Employment & Training Administration

  • ETA BPM IT Modernization - $1M

Mine Safety and Health Administration

  • MSHA Internet/Intranet Maintenance - $1M

At the Department of Commerce the following organizations forecast spending DME dollars on cloud computing in FY 2016.

The specific programs in each organization slated to receive DME funding are:

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

  • USPTO Patent End-to-End 2 (PE2E-2) - $87M
  • USPTO Network and Security Infrastructure II (NSI-2) - $24M
  • USPTO Trademark Next Generation 2 (TMNG-2) - $9M
  • USPTO Fee Processing Next Generation (FPNG) - $8M
  • USPTO Consolidated Financial System (CFS) - $8M
  • USPTO Dissemination Capability (DC) - $6M

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • NOAA/NWS Integrated Dissemination Program - (IDP) - $4M

Bureau of the Census

  • Census IT Infrastructure - $3M

Departmental Management

  • BusinessUSA - $2M

Department of Commerce

  • Commerce Business Application Solutions (BAS) - $1M

Despite the allocation of new dollars for cloud efforts at the USPTO, the Next Generation requirements are almost certain to be fulfilled under the Software Development Integration and Testing – Next Generation (GovWin IQ Opp #37269) and SDI-NG for Small Business (GovWin IQ Opp #63628) contracts awarded in 2011. Work for the other efforts may remain in play.

 

New JIE Requirements May Help the “Internet of Things” at the DoD

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is a pretty common phrase these days, with the rapid-expanding interconnectivity of devices and sensors sending information across communications networks, all to achieve greater capabilities, effectiveness, efficiency, and flexibility.  The Department of Defense (DoD) clearly links the growth of emerging, interconnected technologies to the sustained superiority of U.S. defense capabilities, on and off the battlefield, so you could say that the IoT impacts defense IT at all levels.

The key to leveraging the IoT is in harnessing and integrating three key areas:

  • Information – Data from devices and sensors, (e.g. phone, camera, appliance, vehicle, GPS, etc.) and information from applications and systems, (e.g. social media, eCommerce, industrial systems, etc.) provide the content input.
  • Connectivity – Network connections via various wireless capabilities and communications backbones provide the transport links for aggregation and distribution. This facilitates the environment where data meets the power to use that data.
  • Processing – The computational capacity and capabilities to make the data content useful.  This may reside at the device and/or back end and ranges in complexity, (e.g. data analytics, etc.)

 


DoD Implications

The use of integrated networks to connect data with processing capacity to affect outcomes is far from a new idea at the DoD – it gave us much of the warfighting capabilities we have today. But technological evolution has resulted in a growing IoT mentality that goes beyond combat operations. One example is the establishment of the Air Force Installation Service Management Command (AFISMC) to coordinate management and maintenance of resources across Air Force bases and facilities. According to Air Force CTO Frank Konieczny, potential uses of IoT include facilities and vehicle management, logistics and transportation, integrated security, and robotics.

But pervasive connectivity is also creating security ramifications.  In the wake of a network security incident last year, the Navy launched Task Force Cyber Awakening (TFCA) in an effort to protect hardware and software Navy-wide as IoT engulfs everything from weapons systems to shipboard PA systems.

Importance of the JIE

The drive to leverage sensor technologies and data analytics that these technologies enable is a driving force behind the DoD’s Joint Information Environment (JIE) network modernization efforts, so the pace of sensor-based innovation is tied to the success of JIE efforts. Adding potentially tens of thousands of diverse Internet-connected objects to a network that then need to be managed and secured will require proactive IT governance policies to ensure effectiveness, and some provisions in recent law apply.

The FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), passed just last month, requires the DoD CIO to develop processes and metrics within the next six months for measuring the operational effectiveness and efficiency of the JIE. Further, Congress is having the CIO identify a baseline architecture for the JIE and any information technology programs or other investments that support that architecture.

These requirements may stem, in part, from a desire to help formalize and oversee JIE as an investment program, but the resulting baseline architecture will help pave the way to further implement greater IoT capabilities. The data from sensor-based devices will only continue to grow, but to maximize its utility the DoD will need a successful JIE to connect and carry the information.

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Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about 
GovWin FIA. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

 

Emerging Federal Technology Markets – Areas to Watch

Can technological innovation drive federal IT investments, even in the midst of budget pressures? Absolutely. This is what we explore in our latest report on Emerging Federal Technology Markets.

Under long-term pressure to “do more with less,” federal agencies are leveraging current trends in federal IT – cloud, wireless networks, IPv6, and virtualization – to gradually adopt new technologies that enable cost savings and the more efficient use of IT resources. Some of my colleagues and I took a look at how these and other technologies are shaping federal IT investments today and in the future.

Federal Investments in Foundation Technologies will Drive Emerging Markets

Technological change and proliferation span the gamut when it comes to impacting federal agencies. Sensor technologies are being introduced to track facility energy consumption and enhance physical security, while software-defined infrastructure is being explored to eliminate bottlenecks that result from stovepiped systems and the growing volume of data. Machine learning technology is being tested to create “smart” networks that rely less on person-based administration. Tying it all together are predictive analytics, which agencies are using for a growing number of purposes, from forecasting network performance and enhancing cyber security to ferreting out waste, fraud, and abuse. The result is that today’s investments set the stage for tomorrow’s capabilities. (See graphic below.)


Key market factors shaping the federal IT landscape

Some of the major drivers and key findings from our research include:

  • The drive to leverage sensor technologies and the data analytics that these enable is a driving force behind agency network modernization efforts like the DoD’s Joint Information Environment. The pace of sensor-based innovation is tied to the success of these efforts.
  • Software-Defined Infrastructure (SDI) is more pervasive than generally believed, particularly at agencies with highly-evolved Infrastructure-as-a-Service offerings.
  • Federal interest in SDI is not hype; it is a genuine trend with a growing number of current and planned use examples across federal agencies.
  • The use of predictive analytics programs has expanded significantly across the federal government since FY 2010, making it a maturing, though niche, technology that is expected to have continued strong growth.
  • The inclusion of predictive analytics as an offering on GSA’s Alliant 2 and, potentially, NS2020 government-wide contracts should help it become regarded less as an exotic technology and more as a standardized commercial-off-the-shelf solution.

The modernization of agency IT environments is opening the doors to future investment in emerging technologies.  The convergence of agencies’ work on expanding wireless networks, deploying standardized, commodity hardware, and engineering Internet Protocol-based transport networks is enabling the introduction of new sensor technologies and software-based capabilities. The impact of emerging technology adoption will be to introduce greater efficiency and security to agency IT environments. 

To get our full perspective on Emerging Federal Technology Markets read the full report. 

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Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about 
GovWin FIA. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

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