Vendor Innovations in Cybersecurity: From Browsers to IoT to Mobile

By Tim Larkins, Senior Director, Market Intelligence and Corporate Development

Threats to network security have evolved and vulnerable attack vectors have expanded – from browsers to mobile devices to the increasingly interconnected appliances that are part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Vendors of cybersecurity solutions are now branching out beyond their initial niches to embrace wider aspects of security.

In immixGroup’s recent panel discussion during Cyber Ops Demo Day held earlier this month, six of industry’s most prominent vendors each described what they were doing to help prevent security breaches in this era of multiple security attack vectors.

Marlin McFate, federal CTO, Riverbed Technology, said his company has broadened its reach beyond network monitoring, application monitoring and user monitoring to security issues ranging from insider threat to exfiltration. Riverbed’s acquisition of FlowTraq has integrated that capability into its visibility solution. The technology allows for security problems to be analyzed from a behavioral perspective, to identify devices that are no longer acting like normal appliances or system users that are not actually part of the organization.

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Accelerating Growth in a New Era of Government Procurement

By Tim Larkins, Senior Director, Market Intelligence and Corporate Development

Government is evolving both in how it does business and in its approach towards technology. It’s changing procurement strategies, changing the way it pays for IT capabilities and changing the types of technology it buys.

Government’s focus has shifted from technology for its own sake to optimizing performance – making sure that its business and operations are functional and efficient. Customers are looking to develop integrated solutions that help them accomplish their missions – a much more business-oriented engagement.

Procurement now has a much stronger emphasis on flexibility and consumption-based models. The mandate of the Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) as the primary procurement strategy is shifting to one of mission effectiveness through of best-of-breed technology. LPTA ultimately led to a “race to the bottom” approach from industry, as companies were forced to commoditize their products, resulting in government buying what’s cheap – not what’s best.

In light of the ever-evolving technology procurement landscape, immixGroup wants to ensure that our suppliers and partners are positioned in a way that they can adequately service their public sector customers – not just today, but well into the foreseeable future. Read more of this post

Summing Up the Government IT Sales Summit

By Tim Larkins, Director, Market Intelligence

The 2018 immixGroup Government IT Sales Summit has come to an end. Despite an unwelcomed surprise from mother nature, hundreds of suppliers, partners, systems integrators and government employees flocked to the event to attend sessions, share knowledge and network. A diverse array of topics was discussed, and while content varied from room to room, many consistencies were noticeable.

Among them were government agencies’ imperatives for modernization, optimization and meaningful use of data. About half of the agencies are funded with new appropriations in FY19, with the other half on a CR through early December. Of the agencies with new money, most of them are seeing an uptick in their IT budgets – with which they will be purchasing COTS software and hardware to help them meet the aforementioned imperatives.

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Yes, the Public Sector Is Embracing IoT!

By Tim Larkins, director, market intelligence

Most analysts agree that by 2021, over 20 billion Internet-connected devices worldwide will make up a market for the Internet of Things (IoT) worth over $2.5 trillion. That means a huge market opportunity for vendors providing technology at every point — from the user device to the platform itself.

In a nutshell, IoT allows devices to link and exchange data. It’s not a discrete technology like business applications or infrastructure or even cybersecurity. It’s more like a wrapper around all other technologies and is comprised of five major elements:

  • The Edge: The devices, nodes and sensors actually collecting data
  • The Gateway: Either a physical device or software that allows data to flow from the edge to the platform
  • The IoT Platform: The operating environment, storage, computing power and development tools that receive data from the gateway
  • Software Applications: Programs that let users solve business problems, working with data stored in the IoT platform
  • Cybersecurity: The tools that protect all the nodes/sensors/devices at the edge and data transmitted through the gateway, platform, all the way to the user

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Can collaboration save us from cyber attacks?

By Tim Larkins, director of Market Intelligence

By 2020, businesses will experience $3 trillion in economic loss due to cyber attacks globally. Seventy-four percent of the world’s businesses expect to be hacked this year. If that’s not a crisis, I don’t know what is.

If you were one of 45,000 people who attended the RSA conference last month in San Francisco, you likely picked up on a few common themes related to this cyber crisis. Thought leaders and industry experts seemed to agree that we need more collaboration between companies, governments and associations in developing standards, policies and regulations for both cybersecurity and the internet of things.  We need more threat intelligence sharing, and some even advocated for creating an entire government agency dedicated to cybersecurity and IoT.

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What you clicked on the most in 2016

tim larkins small pic. 67x84top5blogs_123016By Tim Larkins, Market Intelligence director

The Government Sales Insider blog that you’re now reading was just named one of the 50 Must-Read Federal IT Blogs of 2016 by FedTech magazine. It’s an honor to be named among other great sources of information and insight like “Ask the CIO” and “The Spec Blog.”

The award made us reflect on our most read posts of 2016, which is always a great lesson on what’s top of mind for the government IT community. What you clicked and shared the most varied from defense to civilian-focused posts, but two persistent themes were money and procurement trends. Any posts focused on how government organizations are spending their IT budgets and managing their IT portfolios were widely read.

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Baseball, Beaches, Budget

tim larkins small pic. 67x84BaseballBeachBudget_051116By Tim Larkins, Market Intelligence Director

If you’re fixed on baseball and beach weather, you need to switch gears. Pennant races and temperatures aren’t the only things that start to heat up come spring.
April, May, and June are prime budget planning months for federal agencies.

As you read this, program managers are working tirelessly to spend their FY16 money, to budget for the spending of their FY17 money, and make requests for FY18 money.

Which means it’s time to fire up conversations around requirements, unsolicited proposals, and unfunded requests. Getting an early foot in the door in the budget planning process is key to selling technology to the government, and ensuring that technology requirements align to your solutions is the best way to secure business down the road.

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“Budget Deal” is Progress, but Not an Appropriation

tim larkins small pic. 67x84by Tim Larkins, Director, Market Intelligence

As you may have heard, John Boehner is trying to push a fiscal agreement through Congress before his tenure as Speaker of the House is over.

While this is progress, it’s important to remember that this “budget deal” is not an appropriation – meaning it does not fund agencies in FY16.  The end result here would be similar to what we experienced in 2013 with the BBA (Bipartisan Budget Act) in that it will raise the debt ceiling through March of 2017 and it will lift spending caps (thereby avoiding sequestration) by roughly $50 billion in FY16 , $30 billion in FY17, and it will allow for an additional $32 billion in OCO (overseas contingency operations) funding between FY16 and FY17.  On a side note – the increase in allowance could be offset by cuts to Medicare, changes to the crop insurance program, and offsetting oil sales from the Petroleum Reserve, among other things.

But in order for this to have an impact, we still would need an appropriations package from Congress to fund the agencies.  If this deal passes (and assuming the President gets his wish in splitting the $50 billion this year equitably between DOD and Civilian agencies) it will be easier for lawmakers to work together to create an appropriations package (most likely in the form of an omnibus) by the time the continuing resolution (CR) expires in December. Read more of this post

FY16 Budget Forecast

US Flag, Capitol Building and MoneyThe Senate and the House passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) today, which the President can sign by midnight to fund government at FY15 levels through December 11.  What happens after the December 11 deadline is up in the air, but we’ll either see more CRs for the rest of the year, or an omnibus (like what we had in FY15).

First, let’s cover some budget scenarios:

  • Full Budget
    12 appropriations bills passed by the House and Senate and signed by the President by October 1 appropriating funds to each of the government agencies. These appropriations bills combine for over 20,000 pages of text and provide significant clarity from Congress on how money should be spentThis hasn’t happened since 2008.
  • Omnibus
     Twelve appropriations bills are consolidated into 1.  Agencies do receive new funding levels for the year and new programs can start, but the bill is significantly shorter (roughly 2,000 pages, compared to the 20,000 pages of the full budget) and lacks the direction from Congress on how the money should be spent.  FY15 ended on an omnibus.
  • CROmnibus
    A combination of a CR and an omnibus – funding some agencies at new levels for the fiscal year, while other agencies are dependent upon prior year spending levels.
  • Continuing Resolution (CR)
    Appropriations bills were not passed and new budget levels cannot be agreed upon in Congress.  A CR is a stopgap measure allowing the government to remain open and funded, but at the prior year’s spending levels, and no new programs can be started.
  • Shutdown
    Congress can’t agree on any aspect of funding, and all non-essential governmental functions are suspended until a budget can be reached.

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The Good News and Bad News about the Government Shutdown

tim larkins small pic. 67x84by Tim Larkins, Senior Manager, Market Intelligence

The bad news:  The shutdown cut about 0.6% off forecasted 4th quarter GDP growth. An estimated 100,000 jobs were lost across the country (it is unclear how many of those will be recovered), and the shutdown pushed consumer confidence to its lowest point in 8 months.

The good news:  Government spending will continue. The main hit was felt by services contractors, because they can never recoup lost billable hours from those 3 weeks. However, the IT products that agencies needed a month ago will still be needed in a month, so they’ll still be purchased. Albeit forecasts are off… but at the end of the day IT product companies will still realize the revenue.

The most recent legislation suspended the debt ceiling until February 7, and the Continuing Resolution (CR) funds government discretionary budgets at an annualized level of $986 billion until January 15. There is no reason to believe that a budget deal will be reached, so we can expect further last minute CRs to occur throughout the year. Hopefully we’ll see an omnibus that will at least provide appropriations for certain agencies – so that those agencies will no longer have to reference FY12 or FY13 budget numbers and agencies can begin new programs.

But regardless of whether we see more CRs or an omnibus, you can expect agencies to remain hesitant to make large purchases (as they were last year). The $986 billion is $19 billion above the post sequestration Budget Control Act (BCA) caps – so unless Congress amends the BCA, we’ll be going through another round of sequestration again in FY14. I expect we’ll see a flurry of RFP activity in March/April again as agencies will want to hold on to funds and not obligate them until August/September (they know the contracting process takes 5-6 months).

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