Government & Industry Talk Cyber, Mobility & Big Data

Lloyd McCoy_65x85by Lloyd McCoy Jr., Consultant

Yesterday industry and government met during the Security Through Innovation Summit in Washington D.C. This forum brought together several hundred government and industry technology leaders to discuss technology verticals such as big data, virtualization, and cybersecurity. In addition to keynote speeches, breakout sessions allowed for a more intimate discussion of various technology developments. The FY 2015 budget was recently published and so the timing of this venue could not have been better. It proved valuable for fostering interaction with top federal C-level executives to gain insights into their priorities for the remainder of this fiscal year and the next.

Here are the top five things you should know.

  1. The government executives throughout the day harped on the need for stronger cybersecurity through better situational awareness. While consolidation of networks and data centers is ongoing, many of the agencies, particularly DOD remain decentralized. This makes it more difficult for defenders of the IT enterprise to see what’s going on in their networks and defend against the threat. Government.  Commanders want to know how they can increase visibility now, before they get to the consolidation end-state. Addressing concerns about the effects of consolidation on industry, Teri Takai, the DOD CIO maintained that consolidation won’t necessarily mean changing products or eliminating competition, but expect more standardization in the way things are configured. She does concede that consolidation of information and infrastructure could mean more larger sized contracts, but it will also result in more opportunities (as demonstrated by virtualization efforts and joint regional security stacks).
  1. The Summit also discussed how agencies are fostering security through greater information sharing. Officials from HHS, USPS, and TSA talked about how programs and initiatives such as STIX and TAXII were vehicles enabling more engagement and sharing between government and industry.
  1. Security standards like those from NIST and FedRAMP came up several times during the day. Takai asked industry for feedback after DOD’s recent adoption of the NIST cybersecurity standard. If it’s not making life easier, they need to know since that was one of the main reasons behind the move. Takai also stated that DOD remains fully committed to using FedRAMP, the onboarding program for government cloud providers. She wants DOD cloud vendors to one day only need to use FedRAMP. Right now, classified information require additional requirements. When asked, officials from both the USPS and HHS saw cloud technology as a positive disrupter within their agencies. It encourages more interaction between government and industry and makes everyone less dependent on data centers, while reducing costs and redundancy.
  1. Both civilian and defense government officials talked extensively about the challenge of what to do with all the data out there being collected. Agencies have no problem gathering information, but the ability to leverage analytic tools in order to make good data-oriented decisions lags behind. This is a problem that’s only going to get bigger. If all the digital data that exists today were stored on CD-ROMs, the pile would stretch to the moon, in five different stacks! Five percent of this information is unstructured and likely will grow indefinitely, making big data tools critically important.
  1. Finally, mobility was a hot topic during the conference. Bottom line, mobility is here to stay. Half of the workforce is probably going to retire in the next five years and are going to be replaced by millennials who will demand that they can work from mobile devices. Steven VanRoekel, the federal CIO, stated that GSA is helping agencies on mobile device management systems and setting standards for agencies and vendors.Takai made the point that mobile apps pose different challenges from those associated with introducing the devices themselves into the workplace, challenges like records management, access management, etc. crop up especially with app management. On a related note, the government also wants to be able to field mobile devices faster, since the technology changes so rapidly. While mobility has taken hold, BYOD has lagged behind due to the increased risks and legal ramifications.

About Lloyd McCoy Jr.
Lloyd McCoy is the Department of Defense Consultant on the Market Intelligence team. Prior to working for immixGroup, he worked in the public sector as a senior analyst with the Defense Department. Lloyd primarily monitors and analyzes issues relating to the Navy/Marine Corps, Defense Health Agency, and the Defense Information Systems Agency

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