Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Jnan Dash, Larry Dragich

Related Topics: Government Cloud, @CloudExpo

Government Cloud: Interview

An Interview with Federal CIO Nominee Vivek Kundra

Vivek Kundra and Crucial Point CTO and DoD Advisor Bob Gourley Discuss Technology Innovation

(The following interview was conducted by Mr. Bob Gourley and was originaly posted on CTOvision.com on February 3,2009. I thank him for providing his permission to repost this timely article on Government Cloud Computing.)

Every CTO I know has heard of Vivek Kundra, former CTO of the District of Columbia.  We have all been following his accomplishments in transforming the technology program in DC and have watched in excitement as more and more capabilities have been rolled out to serve the city and its citizens. We have followed reports of bold moves he put in place to ensure technology programs deliver.  We have read about his new approaches to technology portfolio management and watched as he discussed the leap ahead he delivered to his enterprise by his audacious, courageous use of Google Apps and other cloud-based solutions.

If you are not one of those familiar with Vivek, here is a short bio: Vivek Kundra was the CTO for the District of Columbia where he led an organization of over 600 staff that provided technology services and leadership for 86 agencies, 38,000 employees, residents, businesses, and 14 million annual visitors. He brought to the role of CTO a diverse record that combined technology and public policy experience in government, private industry, and academia. Previously, Vivek served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the first dual cabinet role in the state's history.  In the private sector, Vivek led technology companies serving national and international customers. Earlier he served as Director of Infrastructure Technology for Arlington, Virginia. He also taught classes on emerging and disruptive technologies at the University of Maryland. Since Vivek became District CTO, he has been honored with major IT awards. In 2008, the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium recognized him among outstanding IT innovators. In addition, InfoWorld Magazine named Vivek among its "CTO 25".

I recently saw Vivek at a meeting of the Washington Area CTO Roundtable, an informal collective of area CTOs led by Yuvi Kochar, CTO of the Washington Post Company. Before the meeting we chatted about mashup technologies (including his Apps for Democracy  contest and also JackBe).  During the meeting Vivek discussed several aspects of his innovative efforts to transform the District's information technology infrastructure.   A point that struck me was his leadership through principles.  Three key ones he articulated were: 1) Leveraging commercial technology, 2) Driving transparency, and 3) Rethinking notions of IT governance.  

Vivek and I just finished a phone call where we discussed these and other items in more detail.  Here is a bit more on his approach.  

1) Leveraging commercial technology: Commercial radios and cell phones allowed a rapid enhancement of the tactical communications infrastructure of the DC workforce, including the police workforce.  Police squad cars are also now equipped with commercial, but toughened, laptops.  Commercial web technology has been leveraged in ways that leaped ahead of old clunky office automation and also enable rapid development and mashups. 

2) Driving transparency and engaging citizens: Technology impediments to information access and information sharing were eliminated in ways that enable citizens to see how government decisions are being made.  Data was also exposed in ways that enabled mashups and agile programing/development.  Examples include DCs digital public squareand Apps for Democracy efforts. 

3) Rethinking notions of IT governance: Totally new, innovative ways to manage IT portfolios were created and used to ensure all stakeholders could evaluate the technology program and better make informed decisions on when to terminate programs and where to invest more money.  Chief among these innovations was an approach to portfolio management that replicates a stock market trading floor.  More important, however is the relentless focus on performance and innovation to support performance.  Beside rethinking these notions of governance Vivek also took measures to smartly watch/reduce/reprioritize IT costs. 

I asked Vivek for thoughts that might be relevant to technologists who have set their sites on careers where they can deliver results.  Many of us would like to follow in his footsteps.  I wondered, if there is a particular computer programing language we should all be learning now?  Should we be diving into Python?  That's hot now.  And what about databases? MySQL and Hadoop are all the rage.  The thoughts I got back from Vivek were incredibly insightful and far more relevant than the simplistic question I asked.  

V:  Technology is important, and we do need to know technology.  But in these very exciting times where Moore's law pushes us all forward it is actually more important to be able to quickly learn new technology rather than focus on one and only one.  This is the beauty of the new world of technology. There is always something to learn.  We should also always remember that the reason to learn is the mission.  To an enterprise CTO, technology by itself is worthless.  Technology only has value if it addresses business problems and drives business success. Therefore technologists must have an ability to translate between the worlds of mission needs and technology and need an ability to rapidly learn and deeply understand both. 

I asked Vivek for his intention for sharing his models and methods, since they have clearly delivered success in DC.  He is doing quite a bit there so all of us who would like more info have plenty of ways to learn more:

V: The DC CTO site at http://octo.dc.gov provides links to many of the ongoing activities of the office and for those who would like more on the models that produce the results we link to policies, guidelines and procedures.  We also provide information on how our governance process works.   But additionally we host visits to our office by interested parties and have begun blogging about them.  In another effort we hope will help move the models forward we are pressing ahead with plans to turn our stock market approach to portfolio management into an open model and will open source the code that makes it work, which should help drive more innovation there. 

Speaking of innovation, Vivek seems to have found a way to accelerate innovation, which is something all CTOs are interested in doing.  I asked him for his thoughts on where to look for innovation.  Another interesting reply:

V:  You can look for innovation many places, but remembering that necessity is the mother of invention you should keep an eye open for places that innovate because they really need to.  I always keep an eye on the developing world and am so incredibly amazed at the tech innovation there.  Enterprise IT does not mean that every program and project must be delivered with huge budgets and huge staffs and the incredible innovations coming out of the developing world prove that time and time again.  I'm excited and enthused about developments like cell phone voting in Estonia, electronic census that works in Chili, fishing villages around the world using instant direct data to plan movement.  Innovation occurs many places, but some of the greatest lessons for innovation are coming from the developing world. 

I asked Vivek about how to find balance between setting standards and enabling innovation:

V:  Standards are important, but if a standard gets in the way of innovation kill it.   Use standards that enable innovation.  This is the role of the CTO. 

Vivek also offered thoughts on social networks. 

V:  In seeking ways to make your cycles of innovation move faster, never underestimate the power of social networking tools and the networks you can build with them.  Facebook is the example most talked about but there are many others including networks built around ecommerce like eBay and Amazon.  I believe we should not only embrace them to enable the power of social networking but to help us leverage, in a large way, the IT infrastructure of these platforms.   The new generations today are making maximum use of these platforms and I view this as a very optimistic point. 

As for me, I view the results of Vivek Kundra and his models as optimistic points.  The great thing about being a CTO is the learning never stops in this field and Vivek is a great teacher we should all be learning from. 

For more on Vivek and the way hew views technology, including some of his inputs to the Obama adminstration, see: http://www.ctovision.com/2009/01/federal-government-technology-directions-and-the-fed-cto.html

Cloud Musings

( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - KLJ )

More Stories By Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson, founder of the GovCloud Network, is an independent technology and business consultant specializing in mission critical solutions. He has served in various senior management positions including VP & GM Cloud Services NJVC, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and VP Program Management Office at JP Morgan Chase. His formal education includes MSEE (Computer Engineering), MA National Security & Strategic Studies and a BS Aerospace Engineering. Jackson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1979 and retired from the US Navy earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Airborne Logistics and Airborne Command and Control. He also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide. Kevin is the founder and author of “Cloud Musings”, a widely followed blog that focuses on the use of cloud computing by the Federal government. He is also the editor and founder of “Government Cloud Computing” electronic magazine, published at Ulitzer.com. To set up an appointment CLICK HERE

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
To many people, IoT is a buzzword whose value is not understood. Many people think IoT is all about wearables and home automation. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed some incredible game-changing use cases and how they are transforming industries like agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and smart cities. He will discuss cool technologies like smart dust, robotics, smart labels, and much more. Prepare to be blown away with a glimpse of the future.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
The basic integration architecture, as defined by ESBs, hasn’t changed for more than a decade. Most cloud integration providers still rely on an ESB architecture and their proprietary connectors. As a result, enterprise integration projects suffer from constraints of availability and reliability of these connectors that are not re-usable across other integration vendors. However, the rapid adoption of APIs and almost ubiquitous availability of APIs amongst most SaaS and Cloud applications are rapidly redefining traditional integration approaches and their reliance on proprietary connectors. ...
"We have a tagline - "Power in the API Economy." What that means is everything that is built in applications and connected applications is done through APIs," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at Akana, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context wi...
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fillin...
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits, DevOps is corr...
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Infrastructure & Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS) is a managed services provider of cloud computing solutions for the IBM Power Systems market. The company helps mid-market firms built on IBM hardware platforms to deploy new levels of reliable and cost-effective computing and high availability solutions, leveraging the cloud and the benefits of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS...
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.