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Month: August 2010

Reflecting on the NASA IT Summit

I spent all of last week at the Gaylord National Resort Conference Center outside of Washington, DC with fellow NASA technologists and NASA I.T. partners.  I can give you a full play-by-play, but Alex Howard already did a commendable job of that.  I strongly suggest you read his post for a solid overview.  What I prefer to do here is give you some of my reflecting on thoughts on this event.

First and foremost…it was a great event.  Despite the lack of available wi-fi (but awful wi-fi is pretty much a given at most tech conferences these days).  Bringing together NASA tech community and thought leaders to the same building for 3 days of sharing ideas and thoughts was an idea that was way overdue for NASA.  One of the things I’ve been most pleased about NASA since returning this past April is the sense of community that is now in place.  It certainly wasn’t there before.

From a conference programming perspective, everyone who saw Vint Cerf’s presentation will tell you that his talk was easily the best hour of the week.  You can see the video below. 


Vint led off the second day of the conference and after hearing about his ideas about interplanetary network design, my favorite conversation piece for that day was “should this guy be working for NASA?”

I’ll leave you with a Wordle cloud of my conference notes from the week.  I typically jot things down in my iPhone note apps over the course of a conference, and its fun to take those notes, convert them to a Wordle cloud and reflect back upon the themes that were circulating about.  I’m extremely prominence that the word Open had over the course of the summit.

Wordle cloud of IT Summit notes

Jumpstart yourself into the world of Gov 2.0

If you’re new to the Gov 2.0 world or looking to immerse yourself in what’s going on, go here for the best jumping off point: http://www.socialbrite.org/2010/08/10/cool-gov-2-0-sites-you-dont-know-about/

I want to echo the sentiment in the post about the stuff Alex Howard writes on the O’Reilly Radar blog.  Back in April, when I started up again at NASA Ames, Alex’s posts were totally invaluable in catching up what’s going on the Gov 2.0 space.  He’s pretty tireless when it comes to coverage of the meme.  I met at Alex at the Gov 2.0 Expo this past May and was pleased to be able to personally tell him that his writing helped bring me up to speed.  I don’t know how he did it, but he managed to provide coverage of multiple sessions taking place at the same time.  Just as valuable is following Alex on Twitter

Game Changer: Google Apps gains FISMA Certification

One thing I’ve noticed since returning to NASA a few months ago is that the federal government is completely obsessed with cloud computing.  From the casual hallway conversations to the multi-hour strategic planning sessions, it is impossible to have a verbal I.T. related interaction without “cloud computing” being mentioned within that exchange.

Which is why last month’s announcement by Google that the Google Apps suite1 has acquired FISMA certification2 is a pretty big deal. 

OK, maybe that previous sentence understated this impact a bit.  Let’s try it another way. 

Google Apps and FISMA is a total game changer for federal government.

Here’s why…


The Federal Government spends a ton running email and calendaring services.  Mostly using Microsoft Exchange.  Pick whatever set of numbers you want to use to calculate the yearly spending on these services.  There is no way it matches Google’s $50 per person per year license cost. 

Leave the email server headaches to someone else

Before I came back to NASA, I worked for a startup company that was using the Google Apps suite and GMail for their company email.   You know what never landed in my inbox?  A regularly notice telling me that Email services were going to experience a maintenance outage.  Managing email storage is a pain.  It requires specialist system administrators.  Utilization of the Google Apps suite allows that pain to go away.

Demand for Google Apps is already in place

Almost anyone that enters the federal government workforce using web-based email.  And a good deal of those people are Gmail users.3  Come to think of it, I’m not sure I know anyone who is using an OS loaded email client.  Unless their workplace requires it.  And that’s pretty much

Govvies are absoultely jonesin’ for decent workplace collaboration tools

I can’t tell you have many times I notice a two or more people at NASA working on something in Google Docs.  I’ve been seeing this for years.  Increasingly, people have been “going rogue” by exchanging their GMail addresses and working together in Google Docs and Spreadsheets.  This happens on a daily basis.  Personally, I must work on something NASA related with a fellow NASA person using Google Docs at least once a week. 

We’re constantly being asked to do more with less.  And in the area of efficient collaboration tools, they really mean less.  They mean practically none. 

  1. For you Web 1.0-ers  with your hand in the sand regarding this stuff The Google Apps suite is stuff like Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, and more.  Basically, it’s a Web 2.0 posterchild 

  2. FISMA is basically a set of  government I.T. standard that have been estabished by the National Institute of Science and Technology 

  3. I haven’t seen any actual numbers on this, its just a subjective observation 

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