Enabling Eureka via Citeability

The story of Archimedes resonates with everyone, because we all regularly feel that rush of excitement that he famously felt when discovering the principle of water displacement: “Eureka!” he shouted, “I have found it!”

Whether it’s car keys or the perfect birthday present for a loved one, we know that feeling. But how often do you feel like shouting “Eureka” when you’re surfing the web looking for a particular piece of government information?

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Comparing Apple and Microsoft as Platforms for Developers

I missed October’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles this year because of a couple of other conferences and meetings in other cities. But of course I was happy to see the coverage in the technology press and blogs, so much of it positive about our announcement on Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform.

Then I read Joe Wilcox over on his “Apple Watch” blog at eWeek, on “What Apple Needs to Know about Azure, Windows 7.” It’s striking in its conclusions, particularly coming from a longtime Apple watcher:

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Innovation in Robotics: Government Uses?

Fact: Last week’s Automatica 2008, the big international robotics and automation trade-show, had “over 30,000 trade visitors from around 90 countries,” visiting 900 exhibitors’ booths, according to the conference wrap-up

Analysis: When I spoke recently at an IARPA conference in Orlando, and was asked to give a glimpse into Microsoft’s vision of R&D trends, one of the possibly surprising areas I highlighted was robotics.  We’re making a major push in that area, for reasons that might not be intuitive based on an old-fashioned impression of what Microsoft offers in the government realm.  More on the intelligence community’s potential use below.

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Google’s Argument to Enterprise IT: “Trust Us”

FACT:  Yesterday, Google’s Dave Girouard, VP of enterprise sales, gave a keynote speech on “The Evolution of Cloud Computing” at FOSE, a Washington trade-show focusing on federal government and military IT customers.  According to a Washington Post reporter’s blog account afterwards:

[Girouard said] “Google will have to do things differently” to work with defense and intelligence agencies, where data security and privacy are held to the tightest standards. But he argued that having information spread across hundreds of different servers is actually more secure than housing data on a few servers at a specific location. “Security is now more virtual than physical,” he said.

ANALYSIS:  The Google salesman (Girouard is VP of enterprise sales) was speaking at FOSE on the same day I made an April Fools blogpost featuring a lame “Cloud Computing” joke (see it here, come back when you stop laughing).  

This year I’m at FOSE as neither buyer nor speaker; the past couple of years I spoke at FOSE, as a DIA official, and I always enjoy walking the exhibit floor, plus I was curious about Girouard’s take on Google’s current move into the federal space.

To be honest I’ve met him before when he was with Virage and he’s a fine fellow, a good salesman.

The rhetoric of his main pitch, though, seems to be battling uphill, and I’m not sure he gets a nuanced distinction.

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Silverlight 2.0: It’s “1 better than 1.0″

Last week I was visiting an intelligence community facility which has been known for several years for housing some of the brightest and most innovative adopters of Web 2.0 approaches for classified systems. I could say who and where, but then I’d have to… well, not kill anyone, just apologize to all my other friends at other agencies who think they’re the cat’s meow on classified Web 2.0. (With any luck this anonymity now makes each of them think, “Wait, who’s more advanced than we are?  How can we catch up??!”)Well, it turns out they’re excited about something new & cool they would like to use.

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The Future of Army’s “Future Combat Systems”

Fact:  The U.S. Army is currently in the midst of a multi-year, $6 billion software development program which it says “dwarfs Microsoft Windows.”

Analysis: The Washington Post did a long piece on the U.S. Army’s gargantuan Future Combat Systems program today, not overly critical but quite skeptical. 

Some highlights of the program itself, which has its own comprehensive site maintained by the Army: 

  • FCS is the “Big Kahuna” of Army modernization, full-on system-of-systems;
  • It’s a $200 billion program, called the most thorough modernization of the Army since WWII;
  • All depends on a massive software development effort led by Boeing; 
  • The S/W development cost alone is around $6 billion (H/W costs are much larger, for the actual weapons, tanks, etc.).

When I was serving at the Defense Intelligence Agency, I was aware that (a) everyone associated with FCS had their fingers crossed and eyes closed when talking about it; (b) everyone not associated with it used the same tone of voice about FCS as they used about FBI’s Virtual Case File and NSA’s Trailblazer – two well-known large-scale failed technology programs.  Many people who know more about FCS than I do consider it a pipe-dream (here’s a good Heritage Foundation backgrounder on the program).  Yet the program continues to spend billions and the Army is slogging on with it.

So here’s what I really think about it: Continue reading

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