ICT Modernization Planning

ICT ModernizationThe current technology refresh cycle presents many opportunities, and challenges to both organizations and governments.  The potential of service-oriented architectures, interoperability, collaboration, and continuity of operations is an attractive outcome of technologies and business models available today.  The challenges are more related to business processes and human factors, both of which require organizational transformations to take best advantage of the collaborative environments enabled through use of cloud computing and access to broadband communications.

Gaining the most benefit from planning an interoperable environment for governments and organizations may be facilitated through use of business tools such as cloud computing.  Cloud computing and underlying technologies may create an operational environment supporting many strategic objectives being considered within government and private sector organizations.

Reaching target architectures and capabilities is not a single action, and will require a clear understanding of current “as-is” baseline capabilities, target requirements, the gaps or capabilities need to reach the target, and establishing a clear transitional plan to bring the organization from a starting “as-is” baseline to the target goal.

To most effectively reach that goal requires an understanding of the various contributing components within the transformational ecosystem.  In addition, planners must keep in mind the goal is not implementation of technologies, but rather consideration of technologies as needed to facilitate business and operations process visions and goals.

Interoperability and Enterprise Architecture

Information technology, particularly communications-enabled technology has enhanced business process, education, and the quality of life for millions around the world.  However, traditionally ICT has created silos of information which is rarely integrated or interoperable with other data systems or sources.

As the science of enterprise architecture development and modeling, service-oriented architectures, and interoperability frameworks continue to force the issue of data integration and reuse, ICT developers are looking to reinforce open standards allowing publication of external interfaces and application programming interfaces.

Cloud computing, a rapidly maturing framework for virtualization, standardized data, application, and interface structure technologies, offers a wealth of tools to support development of both integrated and interoperable ICT  resources within organizations, as well as among their trading, shared, or collaborative workflow community.

The Institute for Enterprise Architecture Development defines enterprise architecture (EA) as a “complete expression of the enterprise; a master plan which acts as a collaboration force between aspects of business planning such as goals, visions, strategies and governance principles; aspects of business operations such as business terms, organization structures, processes and data; aspects of automation such as information systems and databases; and the enabling technological infrastructure of the business such as computers, operating systems and networks”

ICT, including utilities such as cloud computing, should focus on supporting the holistic objectives of organizations implementing an EA.  Non-interoperable or shared data will generally have less value than reusable data, and will greatly increase systems reliability and data integrity.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR)

Recent surveys of governments around the world indicate in most cases limited or no disaster management or continuity of operations planning.  The risk of losing critical national data resources due to natural or man-made disasters is high, and the ability for most governments maintain government and citizen services during a disaster is limited based on the amount of time (recovery time objective/RTO) required to restart government services, as well as the point of data restoral (recovery point objective /RPO).

In existing ICT environments, particularly those with organizational and data resource silos,  RTOs and RPOs can be extended to near indefinite if both a data backup plan, as well as systems and service restoral resource capacity is not present.  This is particularly acute if the processing environment includes legacy mainframe computer applications which do not have a mirrored recovery capacity available upon failure or loss of service due to disaster.

Cloud computing can provide a standards-based environment that fully supports near zero RTO/RPO requirements.  With the current limitation of cloud computing being based on Intel-compatible architectures, nearly any existing application or data source can be migrated into a virtual resource pool.   Once within the cloud computing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) environment, setting up distributed processing or backup capacity is relatively uncomplicated, assuming the environment has adequate broadband access to the end user and between processing facilities.

Cloud computing-enabled BCDR also opens opportunities for developing either PPPs, or considering the potential of outsourcing into public or commercially operated cloud computing compute, storage, and communications infrastructure.  Again, the main limitation being the requirement for portability between systems.

Transformation Readiness

ICT modernization will drive change within all organizations.  Transformational readiness is not a matter of technology, but a combination of factors including rapidly changing business models, the need for many-to-many real-time communications, flattening of organizational structures, and the continued entry of technology and communications savvy employees into the workforce.

The potential of outsourcing utility compute, storage, application, and communications will eliminate the need for much physical infrastructure, such as redundant or obsolete data centers and server closets.  Roles will change based on the expected shift from physical data centers and ICT support hardware to virtual models based on subscriptions and catalogs of reusable application and process artifacts.

A business model for accomplishing ICT modernization includes cloud computing, which relies on technologies such as server and storage resource virtualization, adding operational characteristics including on-demand resource provisioning to reduce the time needed to procure ICT resources needed to respond to emerging operational  or other business opportunities.

IT management and service operations move from a workstation environment to a user interface driven by SaaS.  The skills needed to drive ICT within the organization will need to change, becoming closer to the business, while reducing the need to manage complex individual workstations.

IT organizations will need to change, as organizations may elect to outsource most or all of their underlying physical data center resources to a cloud service provider, either in a public or private environment.  This could eliminate the need for some positions, while driving new staffing requirements in skills related to cloud resource provisioning, management, and development.

Business unit managers may be able to take advantage of other aspects of cloud computing, including access to on-demand compute, storage, and applications development resources.  This may increase their ability to quickly respond to rapidly changing market conditions and other emerging opportunities.   Business unit managers, product developers, and sales teams will need to become familiar with their new ICT support tools.  All positions from project managers to sales support will need to quickly acquire skills necessary to take advantage of these new tools.

The Role of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a business representation of a large number of underlying technologies.  Including virtualization, development environment, and hosted applications, cloud computing provides a framework for developing standardized service models, deployment models, and service delivery characteristics.

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides a definition of cloud computing accepted throughout the ICT industry.

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.“

While organizations face decisions related to implementing challenges related to developing enterprise architectures and interoperability, cloud computing continues to rapidly develop as an environment with a rich set of compute, communication, development, standardization, and collaboration tools needed to meet organizational objectives.

Data security, including privacy, is different within a cloud computing environment, as the potential for data sharing is expanded among both internal and potentially external agencies.  Security concerns are expanded when questions of infrastructure multi-tenancy, network access to hosted applications (Software as a Service / SaaS), and governance of authentication and authorization raise questions on end user trust of the cloud provider.

A move to cloud computing is often associated with data center consolidation initiatives within both governments and large organizations.  Cloud delivery models, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) support the development of virtual data centers.

While it is clear long term target architectures for most organizations will be an environment with a single data system, in the short term it may be more important to decommission high risk server closets and unmanaged servers into a centralized, well-managed data center environment offering on-demand access to compute, storage, and network resources – as well as BCDR options.

Even at the most basic level of considering IaaS and PaaS as a replacement environment to physical infrastructure, the benefits to the organization may become quickly apparent.  If the organization establishes a “cloud first” policy to force consolidation of inefficient or high risk ICT resources, and that environment further aligns the organization through the use of standardized IT components, the ultimate goal of reaching interoperability or some level of data integration will become much easier, and in fact a natural evolution.

Nearly all major ICT-related hardware and software companies are re-engineering their product development to either drive cloud computing, or be cloud-aware.  Microsoft has released their Office 365 suite of online and hosted environments, as has Google with both PaaS and SaaS tools such as the Google Apps Engine and Google Docs.

The benefits of organizations considering a move to hosted environments, such as MS 365, are based on access to a rich set of applications and resources available on-demand, using a subscription model – rather than licensing model, offering a high level of standardization to developers and applications.

Users comfortable with standard office automation and productivity tools will find the same features in a SaaS environment, while still being relieved of individual software license costs, application maintenance, or potential loss of resources due to equipment failure or theft.  Hosted applications also allow a persistent state, collaborative real-time environment for multi-users requiring access to documents or projects.  Document management and single source data available for reuse by applications and other users, reporting, and performance management becomes routine, reducing the potential and threat of data corruption.

The shortfalls, particularly for governments, is that using a large commercial cloud infrastructure and service provider such as Microsoft  may require physically storing data in location outside of their home country, as well as forcing data into a multi-tenant environment which may not meet security requirements for organizations.

Cloud computing offers an additional major feature at the SaaS level that will benefit nearly all organizations transitioning to a mobile workforce.  SaaS by definition is platform independent.  Users access SaaS applications and underlying data via any device offering a network connection, and allowing access to an Internet-connected address through a browser.    The actual intelligence in an application is at the server or virtual server, and the user device is simply a dumb terminal displaying a portal, access point, or the results of a query or application executed through a command at the user screen.

Cloud computing continues to develop as a framework and toolset for meeting business objectives.  Cloud computing is well-suited to respond to rapidly changing business and organizational needs, as the characteristics of on-demand access to infrastructure resources, rapid elasticity, or the ability to provision and de-provision resources as needed to meet processing and storage demand, and organization’s ability to measure cloud computing resource use for internal and external accounting mark a major change in how an organization budgets ICT.

As cloud computing matures, each organization entering a technology refresh cycle must ask the question “are we in the technology business, or should we concentrate our efforts and budget in efforts directly supporting realizing objectives?”  If the answer is the latter, then any organization should evaluate outsourcing their ICT infrastructure to an internal or commercial cloud service provider.

It should be noted that today most cloud computing IaaS service platforms will not support migration of mainframe applications, such as those written for a RISC processor.  Those application require redevelopment to operate within an Intel-compatible processing environment.

Broadband Factor

Cloud computing components are currently implemented over an Internet Protocol network.  Users accessing SaaS application will need to have network access to connect with applications and data.  Depending on the amount of graphics information transmitted from the host to an individual user access terminal, poor bandwidth or lack of broadband could result in an unsatisfactory experience.

In addition, BCDR requires the transfer of potentially large amounts of data between primary and backup locations. Depending on the data parsing plan, whether mirroring data, partial backups, full backups, or live load balancing, data transfer between sites could be restricted if sufficient bandwidth is not available between sites.

Cloud computing is dependent on broadband as a means of connecting users to resources, and data transfer between sites.  Any organization considering implementing cloud computing outside of an organization local area network will need to fully understand what shortfalls or limitations may result in the cloud implementation not meeting objectives.

The Service-Oriented Cloud Computing Infrastructure (SOCCI)

Governments and other organizations are entering a technology refresh cycle based on existing ICT hardware and software infrastructure hitting the end of life.  In addition, as the world aggressively continues to break down national and technical borders, the need for organizations to reconsider the creation, use, and management of data supporting both mission critical business processes, as well as decision support systems will drive change.

Given the clear direction industry is taking to embrace cloud computing services, as well as the awareness existing siloed data structures within many organizations would better serve the organization in a service-oriented  framework, it makes sense to consider an integrated approach.

A SOCCI considers both, adding reference models and frameworks which will also add enterprise architecture models such as TOGAF to ultimately provide a broad, mature framework to support business managers and IT managers in their technology and business refresh planning process.

SOCCIs promote the use of architectural building blocks, publication of external interfaces for each application or data source developed, single source data, reuse of data and standardized application building block, as well as development and use of enterprise service buses to promote further integration and interoperability of data.

A SOCCI will look at elements of cloud computing, such as virtualized and on-demand compute/storage resources, and access to broadband communications – including security, encryption, switching, routing, and access as a utility.  The utility is always available to the organization for use and exploitation.  Higher level cloud components including PaaS and SaaS add value, in addition to higher level entry points to develop the ICT tools needed to meet the overall enterprise architecture and service-orientation needed to meet organizational needs.

According to the Open Group a SOCCI framework provides the foundation for connecting a service-oriented infrastructure with the utility of cloud computing.  As enterprise architecture and interoperability frameworks continue to gain in value and importance to organizations, this framework will provide additional leverage to make best use of available ICT tools.

The Bottom Line on ICT Modernization

The Internet Has reached nearly every point in the world, providing a global community functioning within an always available, real-time communications infrastructure.  University and primary school graduates are entering the workforce with social media, SaaS, collaboration, and location transparent peer communities diffused in their tacit knowledge and experience.

This environment has greatly flattened any leverage formerly developed countries, or large monopoly companies have enjoyed during the past several technology and market cycles.

An organization based on non-interoperable or standardized data, and no BCDR protection will certainly risk losing a competitive edge in a world being created by technology and data aware challengers.

Given the urgency organizations face to address data security, continuity of operations, agility to respond to market conditions, and operational costs associated with traditional ICT infrastructure, many are looking to emerging technology frameworks such as cloud computing to provide a model for planning solutions to those challenges.

Cloud computing and enterprise architecture frameworks provide guidance and a set of tools to assist organizations in providing structure, and infrastructure needed to accomplish ICT modernization objectives.

Gartner Data Center Conference Looks Into Open Source Clouds and Data Backup

LV-2Day two of the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas continued reinforcing old topics, appearing at times to be either enlist attendees in contributing to Gartner research, or simply providing conference content directed to promoting conference sponsors.

For example, sessions “To the Point:  When Open Meets Cloud” and “Backup/Recovery: Backing Up the Future” included a series of audience surveys.  Those surveys were apparently the same as presented, in the same sessions, for several years.  Thus the speaker immediately referenced this year’s results vs. results from the same survey questions from the past two years.  This would lead a casual attendee to believe nothing radically new is being presented in the above topics, and the attendees are generally contributing to further trend analysis research that will eventually show up in a commercial Gartner Research Note.

Gartner analyst and speaker on the topic of “When Open Meets Clouds,” Aneel Lakhani, did make a couple useful, if not obvious points in his presentation.

  • We cannot secure complete freedom from vendors, regardless of how much you adopt open source
  • Open source can actually be more expensive than commercial products
  • Interoperability is easy to say, but a heck of a lot more complicated to implement
  • Enterprise users have a very low threshold for “test” environments (sorry DevOps guys)
  • If your organization has the time and staff, test, test, and test a bit more to ensure your open source product will perform as expected or designed

However analyst Dave Russell, speaker on the topic of “Backup/Recovery” was a bit more cut and paste in his approach.  Lots of questions to match against last year’s conference, and a strong emphasis on using tape as a continuing, if not growing media for disaster recovery.

Problem with this presentation was the discussion centered on backing up data – very little on business continuity.  In fact, in one slide he referenced a recovery point objective (RPO) of one day for backups.   What organization operating in a global market, in Internet time, can possibly design for a one day RPO?

In addition, there was no discussion on the need for compatible hardware in a disaster recovery site that would allow immediate or rapid restart of applications.  Having data on tape is fine.  Having mainframe archival data is fine.  But without a business continuity capability, it is likely any organization will suffer significant damage in their ability to function in their marketplace.  Very few organizations today can absorb an extended global presence outage or marketplace outage.

The conference continues until Thursday and we will look for more, positive approaches, to data center and cloud computing.

Managing Disasters with Ken Zita and Network Dynamics Associates

In the communications profession we find two categories of people.  Those who are well known, show up at the best conferences, events, and parties – and those who spend their careers behind the scenes doing the heavy lifting of planning, construction, installation, and operations.

Ken Zita falls into the latter category.  Starting his career as a journalist, then moving on to telecoms and international communications infrastructure, he has taken the “road less traveled” for most of his professional life.  A road that has taken him to more than 50 countries, most with names the average American cannot identify, spell, or locate on a map.

Ken spent a few minutes with Pacific Tier on January 19th to talk about disaster management and operations continuity.

AUDIO FILES:  You can listen to the entire interview with Ken Zita HERE online at Pacific Tier Communications

Pacific Tier: Ken, tell us a little about yourself and Network Dynamics

Ken Zita - Network DynamicsKen Zita:  Well, we came out of the telecom industry, and still work in it – well, I don’t really know what telecom is anymore…  but its something about information management and networks.

We design strategies, policies, and investment plans for all kinds of clients in nearly 50 countries around the world.  Lately we’ve been doing a lot of public sector, which means that we’re advising governments on national transformation strategies related to ICT.

Pacific Tier::  Well that’s exciting.  This morning we’d like to focus and concentrate on the topic of disaster management, and possibly a little bit about cloud computing since that’s a high interest item.

Tell me, how did you get started with disaster management, and what is Network Dynamic s doing with disaster management?

Ken Zita:  We got involved right after the Asian Tsunami.  Essentially what happened is the United States government allocated, the United States Congress allocated, $16 million for technical assistance for ICT systems and services to help the countries that were hardest hit to develop risk mitigation and disaster management strategies.

And the long and short of it is that we helped stand up the National Crisis Management Center in Sri Lanka, the Tsunami Warning Center in Thailand, and the National Disaster Management Planning Agency in Indonesia.

So I got very deeply involved in understanding the government politics, and different kinds of systems.  We actually saw something real get built, which are Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) and downstream warning networks in those countries.

it was very satisfying, but that goes back a few years already, and since that time we’ve advised a number of countries on things like flood management systems, and we’ve also looked at municipal level incident management systems, or crisis management systems.

And if I might, I’ll tell you about two things I’m working on right now.

One is actually in China, where we’re looking at three large scale projects in the emergency management sector.  One of those is related to emergency medical services, meaning how do you design a framework for emergency response in the medical vertical.

The second is looking at dam and reservoir safety.  Because I think we can understand there are a lot of dams in China, and a lot of them are quite old.  And this leaves populations vulnerable if anything should happen to them.  So how do you manage those, and how does it effect the flood waters and rivers, and so on.

The third area, I think is really a growth topic, is a provincial wide environmental management system.  That is to say an emergency management system for environmental crisis.  So how do you manage and keep track of pollutants in the air, and heavy metals in the air,water tables and so on, so you can be prepared and ready as incidents may happen.

And they will (incidents), as we know with the environment in highly industrialized areas such as China.

So those are the China projects, and I’ll elaborate in a second.

Now the China projects – to some degree, and the early warning systems, are really more a systemic management of crisis situations.  There is a whole other realm of disaster management related to first response.  Because time has shown the most loss of life happens within the first 36 hours after a major event.  Like a tsunami, like an earthquake, or flash flood.

And, getting people out, or dispatched quickly is what its all about for the emergency responder subsector of disaster management..

So, in Asia-Pacific, which incidentally is where well over 90% of the fatalities in disasters happen world wide.  So when you think about the whole world with all the earthquakes and all the floods, and all the fires, and everything else, the most loss of life and loss of property happens in the Asia-Pacific region.

We are currently advising the United States Pacific Command, that’s to say the military out of Honolulu, and 22 other militaries throughout Asia-Pacific, a 22 country effort, for something called the Multi-National Communications Interoperability Program.  While this is a big long military name, it is commonly known as Pacific Endeavor.

What Pacific Endeavor is, is a way to use information technology of all sorts to improve interoperability among military forces for natural disasters.  So this is not about military stuff, it is not defensive exercises or strategic – its really how the can coordinate better with one another using ICT frameworks.

Our role specifically is to create a bridge between the military world and the non-military world.  Meaning the United Nations, large non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and industry.  So, all the big technology companies which are coming up with social network platforms, cloud computing platforms, multi-protocol radios, and so on.

We’re actually coordinating a lot of that. for Pacific Endeavor.

So a couple different thoughts.  The emergency response, disaster management, and how ICTs are being used to address these problems.

Pacific Tier::  Excellent.  Actually I have several different questions now related to government disaster planning in general, regional disaster management between governments, but one thing I am going to ask right off the top, when you talk about communications, recently – particularly in California where I live, social networking media has become a very important part of the disaster response and disaster management process.

Specifically things like Twitter when you have wild fires, as Twitter actually get to people faster than other notification method.  How do you feel about social media and the future of social media in disaster management and disaster response?

Ken Zita:  Well its hugely powerful, and its where our world is right now, where we’re shifting to this more real-time environment.  In general, we are moving toward real-time information flows among people.  And the challenge I think is knowing how social media affects each aspect of the response.So for people who have got to get out of their houses, having a Twitter feed, that’s really terrific.

But there is almost a parallel universe of the emergency responders themselves.  The police, fire, the National Guard, who don’t necessarily talk to each other either.  But they have these legacy systems, and they have legacy incident command systems.

The question is how to you put together, or match up the structured data of a hierarchical command and control system..  A traditional C4I* type of system, with the unstructured information flows that come through Twitter feeds or social media and other things (such as SMS, video email, etc).  It is possible to put together really interesting situational awareness, such as with a neighbor who has a cell phone camera for broadcasting.  That’s really, really powerful.

But the question is whether the incident commander has the bandwidth, both literal and figurative, to be able to look at all those kinds of feeds that might be sent to some source, in addition to do what they need to do to coordinate their own response.

I think there is a certain inflection point where I think, certainly in the US, where the response authorities know that this information is hugely valuable that shows a real pulse, on real life, and there is great situational awareness that can be obtained.  But then how do you design a framework for all that information flow to be manageable?

Including some of the stuff that may not necessarily be public.

Pacific Tier::  How do you feel the governments are doing in general?  Are they meeting the needs of the people, are they meetings the needs of a disaster management process? Or are there serious shortfalls that we both technically and organizationally need to overcome?

Ken Zita:  Well I think that a lot of people have the best intentions, and people try hard.  But its no secret that George W. Bush’s presidency collapsed not on the lunacy of the Iraq war, or the mis-management of Afghanistan, its more over the mis-management of Katrina.

it was a very important lesson, I think for other countries.  As I travel around, I think others have seen what happens when you sit back on your heels and don’t act.  So for example in China, which has its own internal political dynamic, after the Wenchuan earthquake, the president was there almost immediately.  He was there with a retinue of cameras, he was there with the Army, and looked very much in control of the situation.

So there is a perception if you don’t do something, following what happened during Katrina, you can really lose your job.

So I think the political awareness has gone way up.  Part of that can actually be attributed to something that the UN has formed.  it is call the UN International Strategy on Disaster Reduction (ISDR).  They have a permanent secretary in Geneva.

Basically they are trying to get governments around the world to agree to a platform for disaster reduction and disaster management.  And there are lots and lots of measure that they’re doing.  But suffice to say that there are governments all over the world that have signed on to this, saying “we think it is important,” increasingly having the prima minister and the president’s office saying “OK, this really matters.”

So that’s at the political level.

The you have to come down to the real-life level.  We all know from 9/11 the police and the fire were not talking.  We know about the debacle in the United States at the 700Mhz auction that was just a total boondoggle – poorly conceived and poorly executed.

I can point to examples all around to why it is not working.  Part of it is just because people don’t understand that its not just about technology.  You have to put together an organizational and leadership process to prepare people for what it takes to have an effective response.

So its kind of a blend.  The world is waking up to it.  But there is a lot of work to be done for consultants!

Pacific Tier::  Let me move on to a slightly different topic.  You had mentioned Indonesia, the tsunami, and the pain that caused.  Having worked in Indonesia extensively myself, one of the topics that  comes up frequently is the loss of data.  Particularly land management data and things like that in the Banda Acai area.

Due to the fact it wasn’t digitized, and wasn’t in a location where it could be backed up or put in a file in some other part of the country.  How do you feel about disaster management of data and the communication systems, and if I can make a transition and throw cloud computing as a current buzz word in there.. How do you feel about the digitization of data in countries and how that impacts the ability to  maintain continuity of a government in the event of a major disaster?

Ken Zita:  Well we don’t even have to limit it to disasters.  I’m a big proponent of the cloud-type metaphor, but you know there is a little bit of hype associated with cloud computing (as you well know…).

Vintage EarthquakeThe biggest challenge now for most low and middle-income countries is making the transition from paper to electronic storage of information.  There are lots of other problems, but basically they are being thrust from this traditional system where land records are done on a piece of paper and just jotted down, right?

Then into the world of what we can do.  Imaging, GIS, and other cloud-based applications and so forth.

So the questions is, “is this another leap frogging opportunity,” where its possible to help governments make this transition basically layering a whole scale solutions to digitization, rather than just doing vertical solutions.  A lot of times you have someone who does eGovernment solutions for land management, to use your example, someone else will do passports, or a healthcare system.  And its just taking forever, because you are really just shipping computers in (to the country).

And if you think in terms of continuity and resilience, as a product set, or product area for government .  Public sector continuity there is a huge, huge opportunity across the emerging markets. So I’m all for it.  It works like in an enterprise backup center, you just have to have the hot backup and shared facilities.

Pacific Tier:  One more question, and a very open-ended question.  how do you feel about the future of disaster management, government continuity, or even enterprise continuity?  Where do we go to from here?

Ken Zita: I’ll address that on a level I’ve been working most, kind of between the UN, industry, and the NGOs.  And I should add, the militaries.  So, kind of the institution of it.

There’s a lot of cool stuff that’s happening on the edge of the network, like the “crisis commons,” and the “boot camp.” The developer activity where you have a bunch of programmers who are trying to hack some new and exciting tools for social media, and for mobile phones, and for people.  That’s all very great.

There’s more of that to come .  But at the same time what I’m seeing is that there are the beginnings of some helpful collaboration, and some new tools that are being designed at the institutional level, and what I’m talking about is UN OCHA, which is the refugee organization of the UN, there is the World Food Program, the United Nations Development Program – they are actually starting to design architectures, web-based architectures, device architectures for mobile…

They are going to make things a whole lot easier between constituencies.  Because traditionally you have, each organization has its own data silos, its own hierarchy, and its own reporting structure.  And if we’re going to get to a point where the institutional players and the social media – where user data is really interchangeable, really interoperable, we’re going to have to develop kind of a next generation of portals for information sharing.

So collaboration right now is going from voice to voice, you have to get mobile radios to work with each other, into some very small degree of information sharing , we’ll get into more situational awareness and we’ll be getting into video.

And all that’s going to happen at a portal level so there will be an easier flow – and a richer exchange at the disaster site, and of course for the reconstruction process.

It’s kind of nuts, how its been done lately, where you’ve got all these different organizations with their own VSAT terminals, their own databases, their own reporting structure, so nobody is seeing what each other are doing.  That’s not healthy.

So, at the institutional level it is actually being worked out a bit.  And I think that when some of the bigger building blocks are in place that it will create a framework for the creativity  and innovation at the edge.  Meaning, the crisis camp type developers.

Its still a pretty murky area.  There’s not a lot of money committed to it.  There are a lo of people who want to do well by helping,  But its still, you know its one of these things like shouldn’t we have figured this out a long time ago – but at least the technology is here, and there is a lot of activity and energy (available) to try ands make something better.

Pacific Tier:  Those are great insights, and I certainly appreciate you taking the time this morning to talk with us about it, and hopefully sometime around the end of this year we’ll be able to follow up and see how you feel what progress we’ve made as an industry and institution.

Again, thank you very much for taking the time!

KEN ZITA, President of Network Dynamics Associates (www.ndaventures.com), specializes in opportunity definition, strategic marketing and policy formation at the highest levels of the technology, financial and government worlds.  He is widely regarded as a visionary on the strategic impacts of technology on national development; has deep, comprehensive and eclectic knowledge of the telecom and information services sectors; and has worked in nearly 50 countries worldwide.

*C4I stands for command, control, communications, computers, and (military) intelligence

AUDIO FILES:  You can listen to the entire interview with Ken Zita HERE online at Pacific Tier Communications

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