|By Rich Bruklis||
|August 26, 2009 12:30 PM EDT||
I am guessing that Vivek Kundra, the US Government's new CIO and a strong advocate of Cloud Computing, is sending Barak Obama and Ray LaHood, the US Transportation Secretary, an email saying "I told ya so".
Why? The "Cash for Clunkers" auto stimulus program's web site clunked due to the popularity of the program.
First of all, what is Cash for Clunkers? A US Government program created to stimulate the sales of newer automobiles which also enabled the removal of older, less efficient (lower MPG), higher polluting cars from US roadways. The program will end in less than 24 hours and will be feather in the President's cap. As many as 475K new vehicles were sold under this program. The results so far - the auto industry is pleased with higher sales and reduced inventories; the dealers are mostly pleased with increased sales albeit many are waiting for their government pay backs; the consumers are pleased because of a subsidy on the auto sale. The only people that are not pleased are the administrators of "Cash for Clunkers" and the dealers. Why? Too much demand which exposed inefficiencies.
It appears that the voucher system set up to handle dealer claims was crushed by unusual high demand. Now "unusual high demand" to me is synonymous with cloud computing. My own definition of cloud computing speaks directly to that point.
"A new way to deploy or virtualize IT using the internet as a method to quickly borrow/use resources (compute, storage, infrastructure, applications) and either keep those resources for any given amount of time or give those resources back after use."
So what happened? The Associated Press (AP) wrote a story about the program and pointed to the government's own back end processes handling the claims from dealers.
"We were not anticipating the number of transactions would be anywhere near what it is at this point," said Daniel Smith, the NHTSA associate administrator overseeing the program in a recent information session with dealers
The government's computer system was also overwhelmed. Some dealers brought staff in after midnight to try to scan and send documents, only to have the online system crash. Transportation officials eventually improved the computer system to smooth the claims process.
The Government highlighted 3 key assumptions that created the problem.
The high popularity - the auto industry forecasted that the program wouldn't have a major effect on sales. Oops! The auto industry should know their business and consumers a bit better. But if that were true, they probably wouldn't be coming in and out of bankruptcy (apologies in advance to Ford and several others).
The dealer sales people - the sales people ‘pre-sold' the program to customers. Whenever the dealers were clued into the Cash for Clunkers program, the sales people found creative ways to take advantage before the actual start date. This caused the initial rush to the Cash for Clunkers web site and crashed the system.
The government entity that handled the claims - this group was rushed to put the entire program together. The AP suggested that Transportation Department officials were presented with just 30 days to get the program up and running. The time crunch probably meant less automation and more human "eyes" processing claims (as evidence, the government added 700 more human claims processors to the original 300 midway through the program).
For any project, the project leader has the typical resource dilemma - a balance of feature set, time, and cost. In this particular case, my guess is that cost was mostly fixed so the tradeoffs are time and feature set... Adding more time may allow you to improve the feature set but the start date was set - so the ultimate tradeoff is feature set. When you don't have additional time or resources, you end up cutting the feature set. My guess is that the front-end web site got the bulk of the attention while the back-end processing got little (the forecast was ‘x' and ‘x' could be covered by 300 claims processors).
Whatever computer systems were scoped for the project, the project team should have considered Cloud Computing as a component to gear up or throttle down the processing needs. That is a bit obvious now (think about the phrase "Monday morning or armchair quarterback") and I could never comprehend the internal hurdles to get this project done. Going forward, I assume that Cloud Computing will be considered.
Preparing and successfully implementing this project with a cloud component could have freed up capital to focus on the automation of claims processing. For example, greatly reducing the capital expense by not buying hundreds of servers and implementing cloud computing could have allowed the project managers to focus on the tougher portion of the program - automating the claims process and reducing the human intervention required to process and complete the claims. In other words, the Cloud implementation could help with the classic cost/time/feature set dilemma - shift the costs previously allocated for capital equipment (physical servers) and shift that cost to programming a better feature set. That is the power of Cloud Computing.
"The program is choking on its own success," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who sent a letter Thursday to (Ray) LaHood (US Transportation Secretary) asking it to reform Cash for Clunkers. "It expanded exponentially without sufficient basic preparation."
While Richard Blumenthal's comment above is obvious and lacks a resolution, I imagine Ray LaHood forwarding Richard's email to Vivek Kundra with an email conversation like this:
To: Vivek Kundra, Federal CIO
From: Ray LaHood, US Transportation Secretary
Subject: HELP - the Cash for Clunkers web processing is a clunker!
I am getting some heat from folks on Cash for Clunkers. I heard you are an expert in something called Cloud Computing. Someone told me that it might have helped us on the Cash for Clunkers web site. I am not sure what Cloud Computing is, but if it prevented us from being embarrassed, I am all for it.
To which Vivek replies,
Sorry to hear about the trouble. I think what you and the Connecticut AG experienced will be likely be a typical IT fiasco based on ‘old school' thinking. We have outlined a way the government can be efficient (yes, oxymoron I know) via Cloud Computing. If you drink the cloud computing kool-aid with me, we will be able to have better options in the future.
P.S. Just to let you know, Monday night is when Cash for Clunkers ends (8:00 EST). It will be the busiest time and the web site will probably crash again. Use your political influence to smooth things over. I have an RFQ Document that has an embedded strategy on how we will conquer projects with Cloud Computing in the future. Our Cloud Computing initiative will add a ton of credibility to future programs.
I wish I could see those see those emails!
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Dec. 7, 2016 07:30 AM EST Reads: 809
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Dec. 7, 2016 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,984
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 7, 2016 05:15 AM EST Reads: 1,053
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2017 New York The 7th Internet of @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Chris Matthieu is the co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, a revolutionary real-time IoT platform recently acquired by Citrix. Octoblu connects things, systems, people and clouds to a global mesh network allowing users to automate and control design flo...
Dec. 7, 2016 02:00 AM EST Reads: 625
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Dec. 7, 2016 01:45 AM EST Reads: 6,163
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Dec. 7, 2016 01:00 AM EST Reads: 1,617
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
Dec. 7, 2016 12:45 AM EST Reads: 1,244
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
Dec. 7, 2016 12:15 AM EST Reads: 1,377
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dec. 7, 2016 12:15 AM EST Reads: 1,033
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Dec. 7, 2016 12:00 AM EST Reads: 1,278
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Dec. 6, 2016 11:45 PM EST Reads: 752
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 6, 2016 10:15 PM EST Reads: 1,160
Unsecured IoT devices were used to launch crippling DDOS attacks in October 2016, targeting services such as Twitter, Spotify, and GitHub. Subsequent testimony to Congress about potential attacks on office buildings, schools, and hospitals raised the possibility for the IoT to harm and even kill people. What should be done? Does the government need to intervene? This panel at @ThingExpo New York brings together leading IoT and security experts to discuss this very serious topic.
Dec. 6, 2016 09:15 PM EST Reads: 365
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
Dec. 6, 2016 08:45 PM EST Reads: 1,085
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Dec. 6, 2016 06:45 PM EST Reads: 2,161
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Dec. 6, 2016 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,714
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for ...
Dec. 6, 2016 05:15 PM EST Reads: 411
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Dec. 6, 2016 03:15 PM EST Reads: 1,655
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
Dec. 6, 2016 03:15 PM EST Reads: 650
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Dec. 6, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 3,355