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GCN : September 2013
EDITOR'S DESK BY PAUL MCCLOSKEY HOW TO REACH THE STAFF You can reach staff members of 1105 Government Information Group. A list of staff members can be found online at www.gcn.com. Go to Contact GCN and click on GCN Editors, Writers, Staff and Beats. Staff members of the 1105 Govern- ment Information Group can also be reached by e-mail, phone, fax or mail. E-MAIL: To e-mail staff members, please use the naming convention of rst initial followed by their last name @1105govinfo.com. So John Smith would be firstname.lastname@example.org. PHONE OR FAX: The switchboard is open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time. After 5:30 p.m. you will be directed to individual extensions. VIENNA OFFICE: (703) 876-5100; Fax (703) 876-5059. 8609 Westwood Center Drive, Suite 500, Vienna, VA 22182-2215. CORPORATE OFFICE: (weekdays, 8:30 a.m. -- 5:30 p.m. PT) Telephone 818-814-5200; Fax 818-734-1522 9201 Oakdale Avenue, Suite 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311 EDITORIAL INQUIRIES: Go to gcn.com/pressroom REPRINTS: For all editorial and advertising reprints of 100 copies or more,and digital (Web-based) reprints, contact PARS International, Phone (212) 221-9195, E-mail: 1105reprints@ parsintl.com/QuickQuote.asp EDITORIAL STAFF EDITOR-IN-CHIEF PAUL McCLOSKEY EXECUTIVE EDITOR SUSAN MILLER EDITOR AT LARGE KEVIN McCANEY EDITORS/WRITERS MANAGING EDITOR ONLINE HEATHER KULDELL SENIOR EDITOR RUTRELL YASIN GCN LAB DIRECTOR JOHN BREEDEN II SENIOR WRITER WILLIAM JACKSON CONTRIBUTING WRITERS MICHAEL DACONTA, KATHLEEN HICKEY, PATRICK MARSHALL, SHAWN MCCARTHY EDITORIAL/ONLINE PRODUCTION CREATIVE DIRECTOR JEFF LANGKAU ASSISTANT DRAGUTIN CVIJANOVIC ART DIRECTOR SENIOR WEB BISWARUP DESIGNERS BHATTACHARJEE MARTIN PEACE CHIEF CONTENT ANNE A. ARMSTRONG OFFICER CHIEF OPERATING ABRAHAM M. LANGER OFFICER CHIEF REVENUE WENDY LaDUKE OFFICER CHIEF MARKETING CARMEL McDONAGH OFFICER PRESIDENT & CHIEF NEAL VITALE EXECUTIVE OFFICER SENIOR VICE RICHARD VITALE PRESIDENT & CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER EXECUTIVE MICHAEL J. VALENTI VICE PRESIDENT VICE PRESIDENT, CHRISTOPHER M. COATE FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION VICE PRESIDENT, ERIK A. LINDGREN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT VICE PRESIDENT, DAVID F. MYERS EVENT OPERATIONS CHAIRMAN OF JEFFREY S. KLEIN THE BOARD www.gcn.com Volume 32 Issue 9 Terms like cloud computing, agile software development and big data are convenient labels for the information manage- ment and technology transfor- mations now sweeping through government. But like many technology metaphors, they gloss over stub- born realities, such as how hard it is to move even a modestly sized organization to the cloud for the first time, or how much programming it takes to set up a data engine capable of turning raw information into useful intelligence. In using these technologies for the first time, implementa- tion teams have to be creative, react quickly and make many decisions for which few case studies or instructions exist. For rapidly emerging technologies like cloud and big data, project managers are often standing up systems from scratch. Considering all the govern- ment projects now under way to move sophisticated software and infrastructure services to the cloud, moving desktop apps might seem like a slam dunk. It s not. While the cloud concept is easy to grasp, confronting the practical challenges of launch- ing an enterprise cloud tests the skills of highly experienced CTOs and project managers. In our story on cloud transi- tions, San Francisco State University CIO Larry Gilbert talks about a project to move the school s 29,000 students to Microsoft 365. In the SFSU enterprise, says Gilbert, a problem a ecting even 1 percent of his user base could easily result in 500 sup- port calls. Not a tech support disaster by any means, but one that could snowball. And when EPA discovered its timetable for moving 25,000 us- ers to O ce 365 was too long, it split the project in two phases, successfully transitioning a smaller chunk of more criti- cal apps first and maintaining project momentum. In the end the project depended on expe- rienced field managers capable of troubleshooting the project during the roll-out, on the fly. In today s government enter- prise transitions, agile software practices are an increasingly critical tool for moving complex IT projects forward. But they are a set of practices assembled by software and project manag- ers experienced in the ground game of large system implemen- tation. There is no secret sauce. Like cloud and agile, big data is also not plug and play; it s a basket of tools whose e ective- ness depends on the ability of data scientists, often organi- zational insiders, to pose the right questions around which to write the algorithm. In the end, these technolo- gies are shaped not so much by their inventors or developers as they are by the e orts of indi- vidual project and IT managers --- in government and else- where --- as they create original solutions and workarounds to problems encountered in using these technologies for the first time. • FOR CLOUD, AGILE OR BIG DATA, THERE'S NO SECRET SAUCE 4 GCN SEPTEMBER 2013 • GCN.COM GCN (ISSN 0738-4300) is published monthly by 1105 Media, Inc., 9201 Oakdale Avenue, Ste. 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311. Periodicals postage paid at Chatsworth, CA 91311-9998, and at additional mailing of ces. Complimentary subscriptions are sent to qualifying subscribers. Annual subscription rates payable in U.S. funds for non-quali ed subscribers are: U.S. $125.00, International $165.00. Subscription inquiries, back issue requests, and address changes: Mail to: GCN, P.O. Box 2166, Skokie, IL 60076-7866, call (866) 293-3194, outside U.S. (847) 763-9560; fax (847) 763-9564 or email GCNmag@1105service.com. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to GCN, P.O. Box 2166, Skokie, IL 60076-7866. Canada Publications Mail Agree- ment No: 40612608. Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses to Circulation Dept. or XPO Returns: P.O. Box 201, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 4R5, Canada. GCN SoMe: REACH US ON SOCIAL MEDIA gcn.com/twitter gcn.com/linkedin gcn.com/facebook gcn.com/googleplus LET'S CONNECT! GCN uses Twitter, Linked In, Facebook and Google Plus to keep you informed of new case studies, product information and expert opinion on the performance of technology in the public sector. To reach us, please connect with us at the links above.