Welcome!

Government Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Gopala Krishna Behara, Raju Myadam, Kevin Jackson

Related Topics: Recurring Revenue, @CloudExpo

Recurring Revenue: Blog Post

Cloud Opportunity Missed?

The Cars.gov web site is the biggest 'clunker' in "Cash for Clunkers"

I am guessing that Vivek Kundra, the US Government's new CIO and a strong advocate of Cloud Computing, is sending Barak Obama and Ray LaHood, the US Transportation Secretary, an email saying "I told ya so".

Why? The "Cash for Clunkers" auto stimulus program's web site clunked due to the popularity of the program.

First of all, what is Cash for Clunkers? A US Government program created to stimulate the sales of newer automobiles which also enabled the removal of older, less efficient (lower MPG), higher polluting cars from US roadways. The program will end in less than 24 hours and will be feather in the President's cap. As many as 475K new vehicles were sold under this program. The results so far - the auto industry is pleased with higher sales and reduced inventories; the dealers are mostly pleased with increased sales albeit many are waiting for their government pay backs; the consumers are pleased because of a subsidy on the auto sale. The only people that are not pleased are the administrators of "Cash for Clunkers" and the dealers. Why? Too much demand which exposed inefficiencies.

It appears that the voucher system set up to handle dealer claims was crushed by unusual high demand.  Now "unusual high demand" to me is synonymous with cloud computing. My own definition of cloud computing speaks directly to that point.

"A new way to deploy or virtualize IT using the internet as a method to quickly borrow/use resources (compute, storage, infrastructure, applications) and either keep those resources for any given amount of time or give those resources back after use."

So what happened? The Associated Press (AP) wrote a story about the program and pointed to the government's own back end processes handling the claims from dealers.

"We were not anticipating the number of transactions would be anywhere near what it is at this point," said Daniel Smith, the NHTSA associate administrator overseeing the program in a recent information session with dealers

The government's computer system was also overwhelmed. Some dealers brought staff in after midnight to try to scan and send documents, only to have the online system crash. Transportation officials eventually improved the computer system to smooth the claims process.

The Government highlighted 3 key assumptions that created the problem.

The high popularity - the auto industry forecasted that the program wouldn't have a major effect on sales. Oops! The auto industry should know their business and consumers a bit better. But if that were true, they probably wouldn't be coming in and out of bankruptcy (apologies in advance to Ford and several others).

The dealer sales people - the sales people ‘pre-sold' the program to customers. Whenever the dealers were clued into the Cash for Clunkers program, the sales people found creative ways to take advantage before the actual start date. This caused the initial rush to the Cash for Clunkers web site and crashed the system.

The government entity that handled the claims - this group was rushed to put the entire program together. The AP suggested that Transportation Department officials were presented with just 30 days to get the program up and running. The time crunch probably meant less automation and more human "eyes" processing claims (as evidence, the government added 700 more human claims processors to the original 300 midway through the program).

For any project, the project leader has the typical resource dilemma - a balance of feature set, time, and cost. In this particular case, my guess is that cost was mostly fixed so the tradeoffs are time and feature set... Adding more time may allow you to improve the feature set but the start date was set - so the ultimate tradeoff is feature set. When you don't have additional time or resources, you end up cutting the feature set. My guess is that the front-end web site got the bulk of the attention while the back-end processing got little (the forecast was ‘x' and ‘x' could be covered by 300 claims processors).

Whatever computer systems were scoped for the project, the project team should have considered Cloud Computing as a component to gear up or throttle down the processing needs. That is a bit obvious now (think about the phrase "Monday morning or armchair quarterback") and I could never comprehend the internal hurdles to get this project done. Going forward, I assume that Cloud Computing will be considered.

Preparing and successfully implementing this project with a cloud component could have freed up capital to focus on the automation of claims processing. For example, greatly reducing the capital expense by not buying hundreds of servers and implementing cloud computing could have allowed the project managers to focus on the tougher portion of the program - automating the claims process and reducing the human intervention required to process and complete the claims. In other words, the Cloud implementation could help with the classic cost/time/feature set dilemma - shift the costs previously allocated for capital equipment (physical servers) and shift that cost to programming a better feature set. That is the power of Cloud Computing.

"The program is choking on its own success," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who sent a letter Thursday to (Ray) LaHood (US Transportation Secretary) asking it to reform Cash for Clunkers. "It expanded exponentially without sufficient basic preparation."

While Richard Blumenthal's comment above is obvious and lacks a resolution, I imagine Ray LaHood forwarding Richard's email to Vivek Kundra with an email conversation like this:

To:  Vivek Kundra, Federal CIO

From: Ray LaHood, US Transportation Secretary

Subject: HELP - the Cash for Clunkers web processing is a clunker!

Vivek,

I am getting some heat from folks on Cash for Clunkers. I heard you are an expert in something called Cloud Computing. Someone told me that it might have helped us on the Cash for Clunkers web site. I am not sure what Cloud Computing is, but if it prevented us from being embarrassed, I am all for it.

Best regards,

Ray

To which Vivek replies,

Rich,

Sorry to hear about the trouble. I think what you and the Connecticut AG experienced will be likely be a typical IT fiasco based on ‘old school' thinking. We have outlined a way the government can be efficient (yes, oxymoron I know) via Cloud Computing. If you drink the cloud computing kool-aid with me, we will be able to have better options in the future.

Best regards,

Vivek

P.S. Just to let you know, Monday night is when Cash for Clunkers ends (8:00 EST). It will be the busiest time and the web site will probably crash again. Use your political influence to smooth things over. I have an RFQ Document that has an embedded strategy on how we will conquer projects with Cloud Computing in the future. Our Cloud Computing initiative will add a ton of credibility to future programs.

I wish I could see those see those emails!

More Stories By Rich Bruklis

A 20 year veteran of the storage industry, Rich has been a business leader in product marketing. He has seen the industry change from backup on 5.25" floppies to 10,000 cartridge tape libraries with every tape "standard" in between. Rich has supported 5.25" 30MB hard drives and launched disk arrays with hundreds of drives. Most recently, Rich has focused on business continuity and disaster recovery.

While the hardware industry continues to experience BBFC (Bigger, Better, Faster, Cheaper), there is a cloud on the horizon that is about to disrupt that trend. Cloud Computing will fundamentally change the IT world much like the network changed client-server computing.

@ThingsExpo Stories
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arvind Radhakrishnen discussed how IoT offers new business models in banking and financial services organizations with the capability to revolutionize products, payments, channels, business processes and asset management built on strong architectural foundation. The following topics were covered: How IoT stands to impact various business parameters including customer experience, cost and risk management within BFS organizations.
Here are the Top 20 Twitter Influencers of the month as determined by the Kcore algorithm, in a range of current topics of interest from #IoT to #DeepLearning. To run a real-time search of a given term in our website and see the current top influencers, click on the topic name. Among the top 20 IoT influencers, ThingsEXPO ranked #14 and CloudEXPO ranked #17.
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
The Founder of NostaLab and a member of the Google Health Advisory Board, John is a unique combination of strategic thinker, marketer and entrepreneur. His career was built on the "science of advertising" combining strategy, creativity and marketing for industry-leading results. Combined with his ability to communicate complicated scientific concepts in a way that consumers and scientists alike can appreciate, John is a sought-after speaker for conferences on the forefront of healthcare science,...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to maximize project result...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abilit...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessio...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.