The Perfect (Innovation) Storm

Posted on August 6, 2009


Another storm?  Didn’t we just have one in the financial and credit markets you say?

Well, yes, and no.  Yes, we did have a storm, though it wasn’t one of innovation, unless we count the complex and innovative derivative instruments created by Wall St. in which banks, investment firms, and insurance companies participated, creating global instability, and resulting in the largest economic crisis since WWII.

One can clearly see the power of innovation, whether positive or negative, the lever of innovation at work has tremendous potential for global impact.  As we enter an ever accelerating period of innovation in science and technology, we are beginning to see its impact.

In recent news we note the government jumping into the cloud computing pool GSA Outlines U.S. Government’s Cloud Computing Requirements and today, another telling article at CIO on government and cloud computing, “Cloud Computing, Google Apps, Turn Into an Election Issue

Software as a service is unequivocally the future in my view,” said Washington State Rep. Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat. “The fact is that 110,000 state employees all with their own heavily loaded machine is simply not the long-term model,” he said.

Just like the recent housing bubble, the current traditional IT environment is simply not a long term sustainable model.  Government IT leaders should recognize this and properly address the situation before the model collapses under its own weight – think GM.  States are not Washington, they can’t print their own money.

Using a commercial cloud provider, such as Amazon’s EC2, in lieu of state resources isn’t possible “in any kind of a massive way” because of security issues, but also because of the many legacy applications used by the state, Tony Totorice, Washington State’s CIO, said.

The security issue is one that often comes up in the subject of cloud computing and it’s a legitimate issue that must be addressed.  That being said, in the meantime, an “on premise” cloud computing approach can be undertaken (if viable) to mitigate the large enterprise cloud security issues.  I addressed the issue in this exchange with Mr. Rick Gordon, a Managing Director at the Civitas Group.

The article goes on to state that there are some 36 unvirtualized and underutilized state data centers within the immediate area of the Washington State Capitol.  If HP can consolidate 85 worldwide data centers into 6, there’s no (technology) reason why any and all State governments can’t do the same and free up numerous costs and resources in the process.  While an admittedly simplistic approach, it seems to me, the following would constitute the basic elements:

  1. Migrate legacy applications.
  2. Consolidate IT Systems, Data Centers.
  3. Simplify IT Infrastructure.
  4. Virtualize the consolidated and simplified systems and infrastructure.
  5. Build an on premise cloud computing infrastructure.
  6. Migrate traditional enterprise computing to the on premise cloud computing infrastructure.

Obviously, this is not an all inclusive or comprehensive list, or even a basic framework, but a starting point for discussion.  And having been involved in many such initiatives over the course of my career, these are easier said than done.  However, I’m an ardent believer that all obstacles to achieving the efficiencies of cloud computing can be overcome.

We can no longer afford the business (or government) as usual mantra.  Inefficiencies in government, healthcare, and education must be addressed through innovation in science and technology for the benefit of all stakeholders (namely the tax paying citizens), not just here in the U.S., but throughout the world.

The question is not whether your citizen constituents support government cost cutting and efficiency efforts, but whether the political capital is there to execute.

-Tune The Future-