The Proper Care and Feeding of Employee X … I mean Y and Z.

Forbes Infographic

Those are some stats but.. what does it mean?

At first glance the thing that I pick up on is that close to half the work force will be filled by the people in this generation.

I think we will need to consider some things outside the normal conversation as factors.

  • This generation grew up with reality tv as part of their lives
  • Social considerations like “say anything to anyone is the new normal”
  • Emotional intelligence and progressive thinking with relation to immediate feedback from human to human or human to machine relationships should be considered.
  • Supply and demand will dramatically shift the way companies operate internally.

These factors should be considered in addition to others as we participate in the changing workforce.  The fact is that the GenXr’s are such a thin layer of workforce (http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/generations-workplace-united-states-canada) that there will be a great drop off once the baby boomers leave and the bulk of the workforce will be weighted to Y and Millennial.  For the Generation X workers that will flip their “normal” upside down.  It makes sense that industry is looking to figure out how to deal with the Y and Mils but it also makes sense to take into consideration the push and pull on the X’ generation.   Why? because these guys still may have 20 plus years in the workforce.  The other thing is that Generation X traits have characteristics and traits that represent stability and a memory of parents and grandparents that lived through histories more recent and difficult times (X traits).

I remember people that were part of the holocaust don’t click here if you can’t take it –>(horrific) and the great depression Migrant Mother 1930.  I heard their first hand stories.  When I tell my oldest son who is part of the millennial generation, he looks at me in a way that tells of confusion and disconnection.   The closest he has to seeing and experiencing these kinds of events is 9-11.   If  you think that my perspective may be a little harsh,  I will concede that it may be and further that I may be discounting some other events like the Gulf war and the long Iraq and Afgan conflicts.   Although, that being said I have been working with the military for many years and the media surrounding war seems a lot different from it did 20-30 years ago.

My generation saw change that was unending, dramatic, compelling and extreme.  We saw the Berlin wall come down and we saw genocide in many countries, we witnessed the worst of racism and the beautiful hearts and minds of those that fight it.  There are so many things that the Gen X’rs have seen and dealt with through the past 30-40 years that it is mind-boggling.  It seemed as if this generation had the greatest accounting for firsts.  First this or that.  I know that well before there were gen X’rs there were many firsts and many milestones but it seems as if the Boomers plowed the field and framed out the roadway and their parents (Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation or GI Generation) felt the great pains of a torn and weighted nation.  The burdens of our parents were always hanging in the background.  There was an echo of all these voices that were full of pain and sorrow that held a constant undertone in our lives.  There was greatness that rose up through the noise and the sorrow.  It was inspirational.   It was also the beginnings of a world that would be sheltered for some and further creating fear.  Generation X saw the birth of the data explosion and they were the generation that had to not only absorb the wave but learn how to ride it.   So this generation has been run through sociological and human condition changes that test and try an individuals mentality.

GenYandM

How did we respond?

We are more flexible and we are more open but we still harbor the pains of deep seeded confusion about who we are.

  • Our children were more sheltered and out of touch with the world.
  • Our children stay home and don’t wander the streets until the street lights come on.
  • Our children don’t get kicked out to play all day (for the most part).
  • Our children have a global view and are “worldly”
  • Our children are sophisticated in electronic communication.
  • Our children have no patience and demand immediate feedback.

I can go on all day with this list.  From the perspective of a business what will this mean?

As fast as things are changing now, things will move faster.  Further, explicit information and data is king and the primary means of communication.  More specifically, we will be moving further and further away from human to human interaction in person because it is simply not needed.

Maybe in the FUTURE we will hear sayings like “I wish I could content tag all my words” or “context is like my personal theme song”

We are starting to sift big data and watch trends and we are missing the spaces between the words.  If you look at music on a page and read it, will it give you the FEELING that makes you love the song?  We are starting to break the rules of effective communication and companies like Yahoo, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Best Buy are already responding by limiting the flexibility and telework that these employees are already DEMANDING.   Companies will have to either force culture change on this younger generation or this younger generation WILL change the way business operates.

Put that in your database and sift it.. are you getting it? 

In the meantime, Gen X’rs will be riding, surviving, flexing and rolling with the great changes.  They are the key to bridging the gap between the “digital divide” , that chasm that exists between where we are today and where we are heading.   There is no question we are already dealing with a divide, it started snowballing in the 1970’s and look at where we are from then to now.  It is less than a blip in the time of humanity and yet folks like Ray Kurzweil are actively talking about machine intelligence and transferring our consciousness into machines.

The question of INTENT in communication and business management has to be on the table.

Going on.. we are guessing on “HOW TO” motivate the millennial, discounting the Gen X’r and disregarding our humanity.  Here is a list of “surprising” ways to motivate millennial workers?

Forbes author Jenna Goudreau writes in Surprising Ways to Motivate Millennial Workers that employers should (could) motivate this younger generation by doing these things listed below.

1) Explain The Company Vision

“If you can explain the whole picture, it connects the meaning to the person,” says Jeremy Kingsley, leadership expert and author of Inspired People Produce Results. Millennial workers are more likely to look for meaning and impact in their work and aren’t satisfied simply punching a clock. Helping them understand their role in a larger plan gives them a clearer sense of purpose. ”It makes them feel valued, which in turn boosts productivity,” says Kingsley.

2) Prioritize Community Service

A comprehensive study by the Pew Research Center in 2010 found that millennials place a higher priority on helping people in need (21%) than having a high-paying career (15%). Dan Epstein, the CEO of business consultancy ReSource Pro who has a staff comprised of 90% millennials, says allowing employees to form committees and use company resources or time to organize their causes meets their desire for social consciousness. Whether it’s weekends with Habitat for Humanity or time off to run in charity marathons, the company’s encouragement helps them feel good about the company. “In order to tap into their creative energy,” Epstein says, “we need to be respectful of the things they care about.”

3) Develop In-Between Steps And Titles

More than their Baby Boomer parents or Gen X older siblings, millennials are especially eager to progress in their careers and less willing to wait three to five years for a promotion. “By developing in-between steps and titles, managers can meet their desire for career progression,” says Epstein. “It also provides incremental training and experience that will aid them later with larger career advancement opportunities.”

4) Give Encouragement And Regular Feedback

“This generation responds well to encouragement and immediate feedback,” says Kingsley. “People need to know they’re being noticed.” The good news? It’s free. A simple “thank you,” “congratulations” or honest, supportive feedback from a manager can make all the difference, fueling their motivation to produce results. While the millennial generation has been criticized as being needy or wanting undue rewards, Kingsley says there’s a balance to be found. Make it clear from the beginning that you reward good work, and then keep an open line of communication to let them know how they’re doing and how they can improve.

5) Offer More Flexibility

Work-life balance is one of the most significant drivers of employee retention among millennials. This tech-savvy generation is essentially able to work anytime from anywhere with an Internet connection. Thus, seemingly arbitrary work hours or having to sit at a desk all day is less appealing to them. A 2012 study of the generation by Griffith Insurance Education Foundation discovered that millennials will sacrifice pay for increased vacation time and the ability to work outside the office. Offering flexible scheduling, occasional telecommuting or even unlimited vacation time—provided performance remains consistent—can meet their desire for flexibility while also showing your trust.

6) Provide Education And Professional Development

According to a 2012 survey by staffing agency Adecco, 68% of recent graduates identified good opportunities for growth and development as one of their top professional priorities. “Most in this group are hungry and want to advance,” says Kingsley. “If you do not provide development, it’s like a slap in the face.” Assigning stretch projects, bringing in speakers or sending employees to leadership conferences will be especially helpful for those millennial workers interested in learning and growing their skills.

7 ) Give Them Time For Personal Projects

“On a regular basis, allow team members to work on whatever they want,” says Tim Elmore, the founder and president of Growing Leaders, a non-profit dedicated to youth leadership development. Progressive companies like 3Mand Google have had success offering employees time to work on a project of their choosing, helping them feel more engaged and in control and also boosting innovation within the company. “This allows young employees to take initiative, be creative and produce something on their own.”

Are we SOLVING the Wrong Problem Precisely?

How are we measuring and documenting “the space between” the intangibles?

Douglas Hubbard has written a book called “How To Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business.” The book is available here.
“Often, an important decision requires better knowledge of the alleged intangible, but when a [person] believes something to be immeasurable, attempts to measure it will not even be considered.

As a result, decisions are less informed than they could be. The chance of error increases. Resources are misallocated, good ideas are rejected, and bad ideas are accepted. Money is wasted. In some cases life and health are put in jeopardy. The belief that some things–even very important things–might be impossible to measure is sand in the gears of the entire economy.

Any important decision maker could benefit from learning that anything they really need to know is measurable.”

He goes on to explain in detail how to measure intangibles, including sections on how to clarify problems, calibrate estimates, measure risk, sample reality, and use Bayesian statistics to add to available knowledge. He also describes his Applied Information Economics (AIE) Approach that ties together several threads of his ideas:

“The AIE approach addresses four things:
1. How to model a current state of uncertainty
2. How to compute what else should be measured
3. How to measure those things in a way that is economically justified
4. How to make a decision”
Information Economics Approach

Do you know my ?

or my ?

Are we going to content tag our lives?

Will Sharepoint give us the information and tools that we need?

How are we going to recognize when we are succeeding?

Are we going to step on Generation X or step over it?

Do we look to turn change from an unending marathon to a series of sprints? –Change Fatigue?

How do we define success for our future workforce by dollars alone or by time for an individual + stability?

How do we quantify and qualify individual intent?

How do we convey intent?

How to we rationalize and manage intent?

How do we introduce emotional intelligence into the workplace?

How do we build and manage trust with our workforce of the future?

How do we escape judgement from businesses via Facebook?  (Am I my Facebook account from now on?)

How do we convey that we “feel”? How can we tell the machine that we “feel”?

How does the machine know when it provides raw explicit information back for analysis what the undertone or underlying context is?

Further examination.

While we are moving towards automation of a great many things.  We are still human today.  We still need to see, feel, hear, smell, hug, hold, embrace, and sense.  Technology should never be the driver, it should exist to enable.  The hammer does not build the house.. maybe the 3d printer will but for now, it is a human and he can identify a problem just by senses and caring.  These tacit knowledge components must convey to the next generation and as the Boomers are leaving.. it is the X’rs that will carry this torch.

Business should not forget “The proper care and feeding of employee X” ~

Forgive any misspellings and or grammatical errors. I was yelling and rolling around on my keyboard and I did this on my galaxy asdf in 140 characters or less in 2 minute spurts while walking through streets and grocery stores and stuff ignoring everyone around me like they didn’t exist and listening to music…  🙂

cohentext

LOST -Line of Sight Tasking and Result

ImageThe last thing you did may have been the first thought in someone’s head and the last thing on your big list of things to do.

“If you thought you were busy now, just wait.”

What the management books or leadership books have a hard time conveying is something beyond a process.  The tacit knowledge that makes successful people actually successful is where a lot of the magic lives.   Reading most of these books gives the reader some good ideas on the process but not always the methods employed to create that success.   Enough on this..  back to the point.

LOST – Line of sight tasking causes stress, anxiety and can make some feel overwhelmed.   Managers can forget what tasks they put out and the result is a loss of tasking and accountability.   Recently, I have thought of this as in relation to a math or science problem.   If a manager tasks 15 people by line of sight, he or she can achieve their ultimate goal.   The manager can still have a mission, vision, goal and objective, critical success factors and an end state in mind.   This manager can be successful but there is a cost.   Lets look at this from the perspective of a math problem.

The problem to solve is: (3+4i)+(8-11i)

The answer is: 11-7i

as opposed to 

The problem to solve is (3+4i)+(8-11i) and.. Remember, with complex variables, keep like terms involving i together….

Multiply i and 4

Multiply i and 1

The i just gets copied along.

The answer is i

i

4*i evaluates to 4i

3+4*i evaluates to 3+4i

Multiply i and 11

Multiply i and 1

The i just gets copied along.

The answer is i

i

11*i evaluates to 11i

8-11*i evaluates to 8-11i

To add the polynomials 3+4i and 8-11i we try to add or combine terms in one polynomialwith any like terms in the other polynomial.

3 + 8 = 11

4i + -11i = -7i

The answer is 11-7i

(3+4*i)+(8-11*i) evaluates to 11-7i


The final answer (almost!) is

11-7i

Now, let’s simplify the i‘s to get our final answer:
The i in -7i cannot be simplified, so just leave it as is.


The final answer is

11-7i

It is pretty ironic that I am using this as an example since I consider myself Dyscalculia.   Getting to the answer or knowing the answer or getting the result is only PART OF THE PROBLEM.   We have to be able to understand how we got to the answer and further what steps = tasks we took to get there.

What if I were to say to solve this problem (3+4i)+(8-11i) but the “order of operations” is by line of sight management.  “I need you to start with 3+8.”  Could you get to the right answer?  Sure, I bet you could.. might take longer.  How do you know you have the right answer?  How could someone help validate your logic?  How could people duplicate your efforts?

If we take a logical and thought out iterative approach to project and task management there is time to check our work.   Line of sight tasking creates memory loss.  No one really knows what happened last or what is coming next.

The thing about feeling overwhelmed in project management and feeling stressed is to get a hold of the big picture. The problem is that anxiety and stress related to line of sight tasking doesn’t really come from the person that is creating the tasks. It comes from the people that are on the receiving end. Somehow people that are creating the tasks are of the mindset that if you believe it, you can achieve it.

Consider this when you are working on your next project.

In support of our Warfighter Creed

Perception

 “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein

Google “Contractors Creed” and this is what you get from http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?57037-Contractors-Creed

THE CONTRACTORS CREED
I am a contractor. I look out for myself, the operators to my left and right, and no one else.

I will always take advantage of the fact that I can finally tell Commissioned Officers to pack sand, and will do so at every possible occasion.

I am my country’s scapegoat, the “plausible deniability” warrior, and I love it.

Less than 700 dollars a day is Unacceptable.

I am trained to eat things that would make a Billy goat puke, but will refuse anything less than 60 dollars Per Diem because I am greedy.

I care not for ribbons, nor awards for valor. I do this job for the opportunity to kill the enemies of my country, and to finally get that boat I’ve always wanted.

I will be in better shape than 99% of the active duty personnel, although this is not hard.

I will equip myself with the latest high-speed gear, and will trick out my M4 until it weighs more than 24 lbs, not because it works better, but because it looks cool in photographs.

I will carry more weapons, ammunition, and implements of death on my person, than an infantry fire team, and when engaged I will lay waste to everything around me.

In any combat zone, I will always locate the swimming pool, beer, and women, because I can.

I will deploy on my terms, and if it ever gets too stupid, I will simply find another company that pays me more.

How complicated…  or Maybe not

While this particular writing is referring to contractors that are serving (yes I said that) in the field alongside our finest.   It is a common theme heard in any situation where defense contractors are present.

According the NY Times “There were 113,491 employees of defense contractors in Afghanistan as of January 2012, compared with about 90,000 American soldiers, according to Defense Department statistics. Of those, 25,287, or about 22 percent of the employees, were American citizens, with 47 percent Afghans and 31 percent from other countries.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/world/asia/afghan-war-risks-are-shifting-to-contractors.html)

If that is true, which I believe it was at the time and still is, than contractors are part of our fighting forces and moreover they are part of our planning forces.   What this means is that

  • Contractors are people.
  • Contractors have a stake in war fighting personal and professional.
  • Contractors and Government Civilians are similar in a lot of ways.
  • Contractors and military service members can operate under the same conditions.

Captain Obvious

Good ethics and values are not bound by our uniform or contract.  In other words, whether I took an oath and wrote it down as a human to human kind of activity or I took an oath on my own the result is the same.   In contracting documentation and presentations given to government workers there is a note on the fact that a government worker took an oath.  Here is  an example ethics handout it is public via google.

(http://www.doi.gov/ethics/docs/Dangerous%20Liaisons,%20Dealing%20With%20Contractors%20Handout.pdf)

More on this www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/ccap/…/gov.ctr.relationshipaf.doc (Air Force document).

What the documents say is “do the right things” and they tell you what those things are by law.   Interestingly enough,  I have worked for years with contractors and leadership has told us over and over what the right things are.   The point is that WE should be ethical in OUR behavior REGARDLESS of whether we are government or contractor.  More often than not in my experience a lot of contractors are more inclined to do the right things because they really have more to lose.

Let’s think about this for minute..

  • Contractor does something wrong the result is termination of the contract.
  • Government worker does something wrong the result is an inquiry, after years the government worker is either terminated or promoted.

Isn’t this true?  Or do I just have a great imagination?

Point – If you are bored by now

We need a creed on behalf of our war fighter.  We need to be ethical and have integrity because.. JUST BECAUSE folks….  Politics are for politicians and there are a lot of them.  One thing I have learned over the years is that politicians don’t stop bullets from the boardroom.  I don’t really care what they are doing frankly, I care about what I am doing.  Am I doing what is right for my friends in the field?  Whether they are paid for by the government through one color of money or another doesn’t matter, the result is the same.  We are fighting for freedom; our freedom and democracy; our democracy. I am **ANGRY** because I am an American and I love this country and want it to exist and I want my kids to have choices in their lives.

I am tired.. of hearing excuses from individuals that they can’t do the things they need to do because of someone else.  I have mentioned in posts before that I know people that don’t give up but they are few.  So, here it is.. the short of it…

In Support of our Warfighter Creed 

I support our Warfighter. I think about my country and my family and the extension of those around me, I consider operators regardless of uniform and title.  

I will work to have faith in those around me and build trust with those whom I don’t know well in order to protect and preserve our existence as we know it.

I will lead from where I am and seek to be better every day knowing that if I excel those around me excel. 

I will look to practice being selfless and empathetic of others. 

I will be strong and take a stand when I have to. 

I will share information to benefit everyone that shares my cause.

I will reuse and recycle process, methods and tools anywhere and anytime I can.  

I have a code and recognize that others do as well, I will respect them as I expect them to respect me. 

I will collaborate, cooperate and communicate every opportunity I have as I understand together we are stronger. 

I will work to sharpen my body and my mind to be strong and ready. 

I will be concerning with my actions and take responsibility for me. 

I will be honest.

I will be loyal. 

I will deliver results and prove them when possible through measured success. 

I will not always know the mass effects of my work but I will recognize that results are independent of intent and results will vary while intent is consistent.  

I am accountable for my actions and I hold myself responsible and expect others to do the same. 

I know and understand right from wrong and if I am challenged to understanding the difference or I feel as if I am uncertain, I will ask a trusted agent to help provide clarity. 

End 

More ?

Some people can easily tie this to religion.. it can’t be about religion because we will differ.  This has to be for the purpose of our shared values.  Religion is divisive, that being said… if your faith is aligned with these concepts.. this shouldn’t be a problem for you.

I don’t expect people to take this idea and run with it or change their behavior overnight but I do want people to think about and recognize that our failings are our enemies strength.

The reason why American’s are so good is because we have shared values sewn together as a diverse tapestry with drastically dynamic and different roots.  In other words, we are all very different but when we come together these differences melt into something very powerful, common and known.  Ask anyone who grew up in a place like Coop City in the Bronx, we were all different but we were so tied together that we have been bound in friendship for almost 40 years.

Take a stand and share this creed..  letting people know that you care is a step towards building trust. 

“It boiled down to courage and tenacity”: My “Inbox Interview” with Howard Cohen, Community Manager at DISA Forge.mil and Technologist by Chris Maher

I was interviewed a few weeks back by Chris Maher on Linkedin.  The topic was concerning “Trusted Computing”  and ramblings on security.

CM: Howard, as you know, I quoted you at the 2011 NSA Trusted Computing Conference & Exposition: “Well.. I believe in Americans. I believe that when we see various challenges that we individually step up and out to deal with them. We have put your faith and trust in leadership and leadership has been pounded with more work than they can handle (yes, I am being nice). That being said, it is up to us individually to lead where we are. We must individually work to change our own behavior and look to influence others by leading from where we are. If I am a Janitor, then I look for ways to be efficient in cleaning and thrifty in spending for supplies, or find ways to reuse supplies. If you are an Executive Assistant, find ways to make a difference in the office. If you are a Technical Strategist, teach everyone everything you know about Service Orientation and Trusted Computing and technical reuse models. It doesn’t matter who you are, it matters what you do. Our jobs do not define us holistically. In recent days I have seen civilian leaders (you know who you are) step up to the plate and take risks in order to share their ideas on how to create a more effective and efficient acquisition solutions. It isn’t only up to them. We will find more success together by working to change these behaviors and tackling the challenges we can see one person and one problem at a time…” (SOURCE):https://cohenovate.wordpress.com/category/howard-cohen/

It’s a great quote for a variety of reasons. That said, I want to focus on your awareness of and experiences with Trusted Computing. How you were first introduced to Trusted Computing?

Chris,  Thank you very for clearly understanding and articulating the message of “leading from where we are.”  I have been working for the Department of Defense for close to a decade now, before that I worked at a school division and the commercial industry.  I have worked for Joint Forces Command, Joint Staff and now DISA.   I started hearing about Trusted Computing while working at the school division, if anyone is going to break your system it will be the kids.  I learned a great deal about system hardening as I entered the world of military architectures at J8.   I started at US Joint Forces Command by using security technical implementation guides (STIGs) as we call them.   Prior to that I was using non-military oriented technologies like hard drive sheriff, deep freeze, bootable cd os (barts PE), stuff like that. 
And, in your estimation, why does Trusted Computing matter? Why is it important?
In enterprise computing you want to be able to leverage standards. We need the ability to look at metrics and we need to understand what “expected behavior” is.  In other words, we need to be able to know when something is not working right.   So you need standards so that experts can be on the same page and understand what they are looking for as “normal” as opposed to seeing something that “interesting” , if everyone is doing their own thing at the enterprise it makes it very complicated to know what the heck is going on.   You have “shadow IT” that will compromise the integrity of the network simply because it exists.   When working in an enterprise users and operators need to trust that mechanisms are in place to protect them.  I can go on about this but the bottom line is that to know if something is wrong you need to establish that something is right.  I believe that is why Trusted Computing is important. 

CM: As you may know, Richard Stallman once rebranded Trusted Computing (TC) as “Treacherous Computing” which made a neutral set of technologies out to be a threat to open computing and/or our civil liberties. Stallman conflated Microsoft’s Palladium effort with the word of then TCPA. Ever since, TC has been dogged by the adjective “controversial.” For me, TC (including self-encrypting drives) actually protects my civil liberties by arming me, the digital citizen, with technologies that can defend my information from any intruder… including an intrusive government. But that’s just my opinion. How do you assess the intersection of Trusted Computing and civil liberties.

As long as there are people involved in computing, there are going to be hackers.   As long as we are at war with others, there will be people who will look to harm us in the real world or through technology.  Sure you are sharing the standards but I would say process and method are two different things.  In other words, you may have common technological frameworks and standards but how enterprise strategists think about and employ these technologies are different.   For example, I know of an organization that uses two layers of username and password and additionally requires a common access card, all of which are standardized.   The practice is abnormal but if a technologist was brought in to help solve a problem once he or she understood the architecture and because they are using standardized technologies and platforms they can help solve the problem.   I equate it to having a human in the loop.  People are your greatest protection mechanism as well as your greatest threat.   In terms of civil liberties, I think we have some problems with the law more than technology.  We don’t have a right to privacy, it isn’t guaranteed by the constitution and that means corporations and people are free to snoop around our business.  When that gets into information gathering and data aggregation it poses a much bigger problem than just technical mechanisms to protect our data.  It is more about what information did your city just put out about you and your home value, stuff like that.  So, in other words I am not sure that Trusted Computing makes a difference here unless we are just talking about me protecting my local hard drive.

CM: Much noise is made by IT professionals about the difficulties of using TC, specifically going into the BIOS and having to turn on TPMs. And it must be said that there has not been the development of many applications that leverage TPMs. In your experience, is Trusted Computing too hard to implement?
I have seen full disk encryption at the corporate level and while working with the government.  I have not seen BIOS based modules employed and I don’t have personal experience with BIOS based secure computing.  As I mentioned earlier, while working at the school division we used a device call hdd sheriff and some technology out of Israel to perform persistent drive management and encryption.   This was over 10 years ago too but the concepts have been around for a long time.   There aren’t a lot of commercial options that I have seen at the application level that use TPM’s but I think there is value there depending upon the requirement.   This is all about balance.  Risk is the key.  How much is this going to cost you?  What are the implications?   If I am working in the financial sector, I want as much technology as I can to protect my information.  The same could be said for the medical industry, I haven’t figured that one out yet but I am sure there is a good reason.  

CM: It’s been my contention that government MUST take the lead in adopting and recommending Trusted Computing. In this regard, I’ve been heartened by the NSA’s (more or less) full-throated endorsement of TC and by the CESG’s recommendation in favor its use. Further, as you may know, NIST 800-155 (in draft form) has recommended (or will recommend) the use of a hardware root of trust as a foundation for BIOS Integrity metrics. Still, it seems like .gov and .mil domains have been quite slow to fully adopt these open standards and technologies. In your view, what’s the state of play re: TC adoption within our government?
This is about cost of implementation and ability to implement.  In other words, as long as there are programs that are “Programs of Record” with Title 10 authority, essentially meaning that they can control their own technical destiny there won’t be adoption unless it becomes part of the culture.  For example, while working for Joint Forces Command I stood up one of if not the first accredited virtual infrastructure.   Most people were getting rejected at the time because hardening didn’t exist aside from the vendor best practices.   Information Assurance folks were afraid to take the risk, although it could mean millions in savings.   It boiled down to courage and tenacity.   The government leadership I worked with and for championed the idea and helped me bring people together by supporting our teams ideas.   It took many briefs and I think I have stock in some chocolate company now as well to get people to believe that there was value in virtualizing the infrastructure.   I know that sounds funny now because so many have adopted virtual technologies.   Here is the kicker though, today even though virtualization has proven to be of great value there are many government programs that haven’t virtualized and / or won’t go because of requirements and title 10 authorities.  CM: A great deal of academic and industry research has focused on the value of TC when it comes to authenticating users in a cloud-computing context…as well as using TC to protect user’s data in the cloud from the “insider threat.” Speaking specifically about the cloud-computing context, how important do you think TC technologies (TPMs) and protocols are as enablers?

As I started working on enterprise computing concepts and strategies, I started to see a trend.  Thomas Erl talks about this in his service oriented architecture books but it has to do with understanding dependency.  Cloud computing may increase risk.  Notice I say “may” instead of will, the reason is that every enterprise situation and IT ecosystem is different, remember earlier when I was referring to process and method being two different things.   Regardless of the situation organizations will have dependencies, for example you need communication services to connect to the Internet.  As you increase services and connectivity requirements it is likely that you introduce more dependency.
The cloud really refers to “off premise” services. These services are interconnected enterprise services that go beyond an organizations local physical infrastructure.   This is very important to realize because it means that hardware and IT resources are still potentially under trusted controls of an organization which of course then leads to leveraging organizational standards etc.   

The difference is that when you have a dependency on a “cloud provider” that is outside of your organization you build dependencies in which you may lose control over the IT resources.  As you give up autonomy or operational governance, you become more reliant on legal remedies.  In other words, SLA’s or Service Level Agreements become critical to the organization.   This relates to Trusted Computing in a lot of ways, for example a service provider may need to employ certain (TPM’s) prior to an agreement of use.  This increases the cost to service providers and also may limit choices as to what service providers’ organizations can use.  An example is that Amazon offers Federal services with enhanced security.  I am not advocating for any service provider, I am simply saying that as cloud services increase, the costs of these services will increase and the demands of security and stability increase.   In the grand scheme of things it wasn’t that long ago that most folks were on dial-up, it was $9.95 to $19.95, today most people pay $40.00 for Internet services not including the extra services they pay for while on the Internet.  As these costs increase, it pushes the price of everything up, simple economics.  Trusted Computing in the cloud is costly, but organizations when moving to the cloud will need to absorb these costs.  

My key point is that we can’t rely on technology alone.  Technology as it is today can be overcome by the human brain.  That being said, we still must put barriers in place to slow down attackers enough so that we can identify in some manner that our information is being attacked.   It is the difference between having a lock on the door and adding a security system.   Some people would say that adding a security system adds no value or is a waste of time.  I think as we continue to build technological solutions to thwart attackers or secure the enterprise, we strongly need to consider how we can keep “a human in the loop” and have people involved in watching the various stores.   As we move forward with these kinds of discussions we truly need to consider people, process, methods and finally tools which in my mind is where a lot of the Trusted Computing area currently addresses.  

Happy 4th of July (SPECIAL DISPATCHES FROM THE FIELD)

Today is the 4th of July.   What does it mean to you?  Joni Douglas writes “Do we ever reflect on the hardship and terror that the early Americans must have lived through day after day? Do we truly understand the hopes and dreams that lay secretly hidden away in the hearts of the people back then?”

I appreciate our past, it is what defines who we are and what we will be.  Americans as a whole, are smart, bold, brave, courageous, tolerant and most of all… AMERICANS.  Meaning when times are tough we pull together and we take care of each other.   We have a long history of thinking on our feet and challenging oppression.  We are people as one but independent, we are a tapestry that is tied together by the concept that we are all created equal and that we have unalienable rights Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  

Freedom isn’t free and our rights that we as a people have declared through our “Declaration of Independence” come at a cost.  As an American, I served in the US Navy and frankly I was too young at the time to really understand these concepts.  As I have become older, I have learned that how truly lucky we are to live and be part of this nation.   What is unfortunate and clear is that we are distracted by entertainment and we aren’t paying attention to the wars that we are fighting RIGHT NOW today.

If you didn’t know, I will share this with you, we are constantly under attack.  Right now while you are potentially firing up your grill to make some dogs, men and women are working to protect us on every shore including our virtual borders (cyber).

THANK YOU to our service members.

What I am about to share with you is very special.  This comes from a man that I personally consider a living hero and true patriot. This is message that he sent me today July 4th, 2012 from Bagram, Afghanistan.   As long as he is sending me notes and allows me to post them, they will appear here on my blog.

Thank you Ken Williams!

“Dispatches from the Front:4 July 2012.”

They are provided to give you a bit of insight into what is happening in this hostile land.  It is hard to imagine that in ancient history, Bagram, Afghanistan was once the primary crossroads between the civilizations of India, East Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and thence Europe.  Today, Bagram is the crossroads to hell.

Dispatches from the Front: 4 July 2012

Happy 4th of July and I wish for you and your family only the very best this world has to offer.

Today is a regular work day here.  That is fine by me for there is no Dairy Queen to cruise and there is much to be done.

This dispatch is to inform you on the strategic objectives of Regional Command – East (RC-E) and a few personal observations.  The following information is unclassified.

There are five operations objectives.

1.            Accelerate the Afghanistan National Security Force (ANSF)

capacity and the transfer of lead security responsibility to the ANSF.

2.            Improve security by, with, and through the ANSF.

3.            Support the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

(GIRoA) in the development of sub-national institutions, civil service capacities, Rule of Law, and Socio-Economic Development initiatives and programs across the Coalition Joint Operating Area-Afghanistan (CJOA-A) and synchronize their efforts to support security objectives.

4.            Inform and influence the Afghan populace.

5.            Reset the Theater.

There is a Classified Campaign Plan that lays out what needs to be done.

It reads as a “tall order” from anyone’s perspective.  However, as I review the nightly situation reports, I am seeing the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) do more and more and they are successfully taking the fight to the enemy.  This may be out of necessity for I am sure the Taliban are eagerly awaiting our withdrawal.  We all realize that history is written by the victors, but honestly, the ANA is doing well.

There are still many hurdles to cross and acceptance of different ways

of doing business by both the CJTF and ANA.   I cannot state any

stronger, the real test of their effectiveness will be measured when there are no coalition forces in country available to  provide efficient and lethal support when needed.  I worry also about long term sustainment.

A real surprise to me is the obvious absence of the Afghanistan Mission Network here in RC-E.  It must be in Kabul and used by the International Joint Commission and ISAF HQ for it surely is not being used here.  The primary means of C2 by the commander of RC-E and his subordinate commanders is CENTRIXS ISAF at the SECRET level.  As I become more recognized in the JOC, I will find out for sure if the AMN extends here.

Personal observations:  Since the very beginning of my career, and now as I have grown old with white hair, one thing has always remained constant; the men and women of the U.S. military are our greatest National treasure.  What gives me hope is knowing they are a microcosm of our society proving the majority of our U.S society is still solid.

As hard as the liberal media tries, they have never been capable of tarnishing the trust most U.S citizens has in our men and women in uniform.  As long as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard men and women continue to display unbridled strength, ethics, morality, integrity, courage, duty, and honor, I fear not what the politics of this world brings forth. But I do fear that our politicians have lost sight of what it takes to keep this Nation secure in the freedoms so precious to all of us.  They are the ones who in my opinion have lost sight of their duty.  They should try to remember as Gen. R.E. Lee once said, “Do your duty in all things. You cannot to do more.  You should never do less.”

Sheets arrived yesterday and were immediately installed.  This morning I realized they do make a difference in the comfort of your rack.  Life is great!!

At 0900 local yesterday, I attended my second “Fallen Hero” ceremony.

This time it was a civilian killed in his bed asleep when his luck ran out.  A rocket attack on a different forward operating base (FOB), south of Bagram, ended his life.  Whether the man was a contractor or a GS, he was given the same respect and honors as given to a fallen military person.  I am not ashamed to say that tears once again fell down my face as the open HUMVEE carried him slowly pass me.  The stars of his flag seemed larger and the strips wider and brighter as the sun bore down on

us.   This time there were 5 musicians and I recognized one of the songs

as, “Amazing Grace”.  You are left humbled once the Sergeant Major dismisses the formation.  It is then you realize, “only for the grace of God, go I.”

Later, at 2000 local, I attended my third “Fallen Hero” ceremony for a young soldier killed in action against the enemy.  The moon was positioned perfectly over the center of the awaiting C-130.  It was full which made the bare mountains surrounding us more ominous and they seemed closer.  The wind during this time of year, at night, is constant and blows up to 20+ mph.  The color guard struggled to keep the flags under control.  Honors were rendered.  Silent tears fell as one more soldier was taken from the field of honor and sent on his way home to Arlington.

Semper Fidelis,

Ken

CJTF-1, ID, CJ5 Assessments

Task Force Defender

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan

APO, AE 09354

Community Management Metrics

Community Metrics in Context

In late 2011 I started working for DISA on the Forge.Mil project.   Forge.Mil is a really great concept that was born out of the need for a change in the Department of Defense concerning software development and application life-cycle management.  Some the concepts that attracted me to Forge (that is what I call it), was that it integrates knowledge management, information management, software development and object relational mapping to authoritative data.   As a System Integrator, I would always have a challenge when it came to documentation and information management aside from required documents for information assurance.   Forge enables teams to share data in context of IT in ways that are similar to other knowledge systems but essentially designed for software development and software projects.

This is a unique and challenging situation because most of the time in social communities people have a desire to communicate and collaborate.   In this environment with hundreds of different projects and thousands of users motivators for the individual developer varies.   In other words, some kids may not want to play in the sandbox, while others excel at building castles together.    As Morgan Freeman says while discussing the universe “Answers are terminus, it is the questions that are where it’s at.”   With that said, I had and have a lot of questions about the community management concerning IT related work.

How do you know what you need to look at to determine what is happening in your community?

I have spoken to a lot of people about this in the past few weeks and I have scoured the internet looking for questions and answers to consolidate a nice list.   One of the first things to consider though is asking yourself about the purpose of your community.   Who are my community members? What does the population look like?  What do they do on a daily basis?  What makes them different from each other?  What makes them the same?  Questions like these really help flesh out what you need to measure.

I put together a document on metrics and it was really a mashup of data from a lot of community managers, blogs, discussion posts and some publications.   I am posting most of the content here so that if you happen to stumble along here, you can take what you need and put together your own thing.   I have links to most of the authoritative data sources but if you come across something you wrote and I didn’t source it properly (PLEASE) let me know and I will include the proper reference.  I am not looking to take credit for the hard work and thought of others.

Think -Wait-Think- Do..

“We need to first define the problem.
Albert Einstein once said:
“If I had an hour to save the world
I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem
and one minute finding solutions”
And I find in most organizations
people are running around spending sixty minutes
finding solutions to problems that don’t matter.”
~ Stephen Shapiro

The information included in this post is a primer to get you thinking about what you need to do in your organization.  These are not the answers, these are the basis for the questions.    Most technical people think about the answers as quickly as the problems present themselves.   As a “leader from where you are” it is your job to help keep the solutions at bay until you determine that enough questions have been asked.   Additionally, the process should never end.  We should always ask questions, tune, adjust, qualify, quantify and wonder.  If you want to talk about the technical side of this work contact me separately.

Context First

Just remember to always keep the qualitative metrics in mind first as you consider the quantitative metrics.   One of the first posts that I came across that I thought was very interesting located here talks about a table with some basic attributes of consideration.  I added some attributes in the paper I put together but I could have very well just stuck with these.

“It’s either quantifiable or it’s not measurable”

“It’s either quantifiable or it’s subjective

“We have to quantify it in order to measure it” – Dr. Mel Schnapper, PhD

Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force:

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Autobiography of Mark Twain

Program Managers must understand what the total cost of implementation is. How do we capture a baseline? What is the total cost of ownership? What is the total cost in investment? What are the estimated savings? How do we know that we are achieving our goals? How do we know that we have growth? How do we know that this project is sustainable? How do we know where to course correct? What are the measures of performance? What are the measures of effectiveness? How do we define “effective”? How are we measuring success?

Community Goal: Drive Reuse

It is vague to consider a generic goal of “reuse.” There are a number of community components that can be measured for their reuse-ability.

• How do we know if people are informed about new features?

• How do we offer training on these features?

• How do we know if people are using these new features? If not using – Why?

• Are they using other web sites? Are they linking to them?

• Are they using their tool as a SharePoint or as a code collaboration tool?

• What are linkages / commonalities between projects?

1:Pre-Built Components Reuse

• Goal: Reuse Pre-Built Components

• Question: How much interest is there in each component that is meant for reuse?

• Metrics: Number of downloads, number of posts on the discussion posts around the component

2: Code Snippet Reuse

• Goal: Reuse Code Snippets

• Question: How many different places do code snippets intended for reuse appear within the community?

• Metrics: number of projects where this code snippet is being used, and/or where it has been “forked”

3: Knowledge Reuse (non-source code)

• Goal: Community Members are sharing knowledge within the community.

• Question: How often are users looking for information among the entire community?

• Metric: number of attempts to search for information community-wide on a particular topic.

4: Expertise Reuse/Reputation Management

• Goal: Users are able to find community experts that can help or guide them.

• Question: How would a user find an expert on a specific topic?

• Metric: determine which are the most popular community-wide search topics -> determine which community members post the most information about the most searched topics.

5: Trust in Reuse

• Goal: Users within the community trust that the community is a place to find valuable, trustworthy answers

• Question: Do users believe that they can rely on the information they are getting outside of their silo?

• Metric: while this is probably best learned through surveys, the number of hits/interest around specific topics that are demonstrating a high level of activity can also provide evidence of success in reuse trustworthiness.

(https://ctf.open.collab.net/sf/wiki/do/viewPage/projects.community-mgmt/wiki/DriveReuse)

Creating and Managing a Healthy Community

Growth

For growth, it is how many people are invested in what you’re doing that matters.

In terms of Growth, we look at:

• Twitter followers/Fan (LinkedIn, Milsuite, other) page members/social media friends.

• Blog Subscribers.

• # of Active commenters.

• Member registrations.

• Unique visitors.

• Ratio of posts to comments, types of comments.

• # of Message posts, if a forum.

• # of Conversations over a month period.

Presence

How visible are you in your space and how does your visibility measure up against that of other defense communities?

In terms of presence, we look at:

• Buzz over a 30 day period.

• Types comments/posts written about Forge.Mil – mentions (linked or unlinked).

• Who authored the mention – client, colleague, recognized social media contact, influencers, etc.

• Where was the mention located?

• How often does your community share your content?

Conversation

Presence is who’s talking about Forge.Mil, Conversation looks more at who Forge.Mil is talking to and the effectiveness of those conversations. Measuring the types of conversations Forge.Mil leadership and Community is having is an important metric because it shows leadership where your time is being spent and how people are engaging with you.

In terms of Conversation, we look at:

• Breakdown of the types of conversations being had– support-based, link sharing, friendly banter.

• Time spent on each conversation group. What’s more cost-effective – social media or phone/email, defense connect online chat?

• Whom you’re conversing with – customers, prospective customers, colleague, outsiders.

• Conversation spread and growth?

• Actionable knowledge learned about core audience.

Sentiment

More important than simply knowing Forge.Mil is being talked about knowing what people are saying about Forge.mil and how that’s changing over time.

In terms of Sentiment, we look at:

• Emergence of Evangelists – onsite and off.

• Ratio of positive/neutral/negative mentions (i.e. satisfaction).

• Forge users recommending the community, passing it on to friends.

• Frequency of community members responding to/helping other community members, overall “vibe” of the room based on tracked interactions.

• Community members defending Forge.Mil on negative blog posts and feedback.

Conversions

In terms of Conversions, we look at:

• Community member, followers, frequent blog commenter, etc).

• Customer loyalty forum (Charter) community conversions – how many times do they refer?

http://outspokenmedia.com/social-media/how-to-measure-community/ (great content)

Metrics as an indicator

A community must support business goals and the current (and prospective) community members themselves.

  • If the business goals are not defined, the community risks being feature-driven and may suffer from shiny-object syndrome.
  • If the community members are not involved in the success definition process, the community risks being irrelevant to its members.  (Community Charter)
  • If business goals are undefined, or if community members themselves are not involved in the definition of the community (it’s for them, after all), the community’s risk of failure grows substantially.

There are generally two types of metrics

Qualitative Connecting the dots can be challenging, since the points of data capture for qualitative metrics are often two or more degrees of separation from the data.  Qualitative information is contextual information derived by the relationships of data points.   Qualitative metrics takes variables, attributes, values and relationships into consideration in order to determine the likelihood of a condition.  Qualitative information / data is based on a deep understanding and the correlation of data.

Community example:

There are various interactions in the community that can be measured by frequency of visits or downloads but we may not know why.   This is an important factor as understanding the drivers can give us the ability to reinforce successful behaviors.

What does it mean? Interpretation of the data once captured.

Attraction -The ability to attract an initial audience.

Attention – The ability to ‘reel them in’ and have them go deeper into community content

Adoption – the ability to ‘convert’ them into Community users have them contribute to discussions.

When placing the aforementioned metrics into the 3 framework categories above there is a clearer understanding of what we are actually measuring:

Each of these has a quantitative component although it is difficult to measure external connectivity (meaning interactions that occur as a predecessor or successor as a result of the interaction in the community outside of the environment.

Quantitative Quantitative metrics are gathered directly through the observation and measurement of data.  There is a high degree of transparency and a direct correlation between action and outcome with quantitative metrics.

The data points can be classified as large Q for quantitative or small q for qualitative.

Attraction – The ability to attract an initial audience.

Attention – The ability to ‘reel them in’ and have them go deeper into community content

Adoption – the ability to ‘convert’ them into Community users have them contribute to discussions.

When placing the aforementioned metrics into the 3 framework categories above there is a clearer understanding of what we are actually measuring:

Attraction (Q,q) Attention (Q) Adoption (Q,q)
Visits Page views per visit User Creation
Unique Visitors Bounce Rate % Returning Visits
% New Visits Length of Time on Site Interactivity Rate (q)
% Users by service First time contributions Account age
% Users by organization Most active members Content ratings
% Users by agency Mentions by influencers New posts per month
% Users by unit Overall project activity Reputation changes
Page views overall Ratio: Views / Post Topic activity by project
Awareness (q) Ratio: Posts / Thread Individual project activity
Inbound Links Ratio: Searches / Post % Content with “tags”
    Innovation (e.g. # new product ideas sourced from community) (q)
    Member Satisfaction (q)

Other potential factors (some duplication)

Visitors Metrics: Such as Unique Visitors, Bounce Rate, Pages per Visit, Pageviews, Time on Site, Keywords, and Referring Sites

Members Metrics: Such as New Registrations, # of Active Members, Completed Profiles, Pages per Visit, Pageviews, and Time on Site

Contributors Metrics: Such as # of Edits, # of Comments, and # of New User Generated Content

Evangelists Metrics: Such as # of External Invitations, # of ShareThis external shares, # of Mentions on social media sites (e.g. Twitter)

Leaders Metrics: Such as # of Active Admins, and # of Active Moderators

http://blog.wiser.org/metrics-for-the-busy-community-manager/

Getting a Baseline

If we have 1,000 members in the Forge.Mil community and we do some basic analysis and learn that each week there are approximately 50 new threads posted in our project discussions and about 500 replies.

These three pieces of data are a good baseline for starting to look at ratios. A bit of quick division and your ratios come out like this:

Ratio of posts per member, per week: 0.05 (50/1000) (baseline)

Ratio of replies per member, per week: 0.5 (500/1000) (baseline)

Scenario 1 – Members Up But Engagement May Not Be Keeping Pace

Fast forward one month and let’s say our community has grown to 1,500 members. This is a huge increase, but are the ratios keeping pace with the growth? Let’s say, for example, that there are now 100 new threads posted (a lot of the new members introduced themselves) and about 650 replies each week.  Your new ratios look something like this:

Ratio of posts per member, per week: 0.0666 (100/1500) (increased)

Ratio of replies per member, per week: 0.4333 (650/1500) (decreased)

The ratio for posts per member (per week) has gone up thanks to all those new members introducing themselves to the forum. However, the ratio for replies per member has decreased and hasn’t kept pace with the growth. Using these findings as a starter, a quick look around the community may reveal that all those new members are introducing themselves but are not engaging or replying as much.

If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.
– Lord Kelvin, 1883

Scenario 2 – Members Down But Is The Quality Better?

In another example, let’s say community experiences a slight loss in membership, dropping down to 900 members, but the number of posts and replies stays the same. The new ratios are:

Ratio of posts per member, per week: 0.055 (50/900) (increased)

Ratio of replies per member, per week: 0.55 (500/900) (increased)

The ratios above show that community is actually looking very healthy, and so the decrease in membership is likely represented inactive members.

Ratios are a simple way to start putting context to data.  In the first example, the community numbers increased, which looks great, but the number of replies didn’t keep pace with the growth— leading to some actions or follow-up with the newer members. In example two, the overall numbers dropped, which looks negative on the surface, but the ratios show us that the community is actually healthier now.

(http://thecommunitymanager.com/communities-and-the-ratios-that-bring-insight)

Metrics Review: reviewing your performance at least every month, and compare month-over-month (MoM%) and year-over-Year (YoY%) growth rates in a spreadsheet

Other notes:

NOTES:

Here is some other relevant information.  This comes from some of the collabnet notes in their community wiki https://ctf.open.collab.net/sf/wiki/do/viewPage/projects.community-mgmt/wiki/CommunityMetrics

Community Metrics should be

  • Based on agreed upon, communicated community goals
  • Centrally managed by the Community Manager and Internal Community PM
  • Communicated ‘up’ to stakeholders in a way that provides information about community goal progress, community health, and ROI
  • Communicated ‘down’ to the community in a way that promotes the community and identifies opportunities for community growth

Community Metrics should be planned to come to an agreement on

  • The various aspects of the goal: For example, the goal reuse can include: code component reuse, code snippet reuse, knowledge reuse. Each aspect of the goal is itself a sub-goal that will be further analyzed and measured differently
  • The questions around the goal: For example, the sub-goal of ‘code component reuse’ begs the question “How many times have reusable code components been reused”
  • The metrics to be collected regarding the goal: For example, code component reuse’ could be measured by collecting: # of times reusable code components have been downloaded
  • The methods employed to provide the goal results: For example, how/when will the metric/s data be captured
  • Should the metrics data be trended over time: For example, Should the metrics data be compared against other data for relevance and further analysis

Measuring Community Health

Measuring community health is not looking at traffic numbers or page views. A community is considered healthy when:

  • The community goals are being met, such as support questions are being answered
  • Attitudes in conversations are light and friendly
  • Conversation is two-way or more, but not just single posts
  • Issues are being resolved and needs are being met

Community health can NOT be determined by simple numbers. It takes a community manager, or several, to read through conversations.

A community is considered unhealthy when:

  • Community goals are not met
  • Conversations are non-existent
  • Flame wars and arguments are taking over the community
  • Community members are unhappy with the interaction, or lack there of

Type of messaging that reveals the health of a community:

  • Messages of appreciation
  • Messages with solutions to problems posed by community members
  • Requests for information are answered
  • Conversations are friendly and sometimes lengthy
  • Complaints are directly addressed by the community manager or other company staff
  • Community leaders emerge from the conversations

Good luck!

Keep reading and writing!  Keep asking questions and publish what you find, we can all use the help.  Remember people first, context and scope (qualitative) and the quantitative should help with the qualitative.    If there is an interest, I can post some information about tools but most of the focus is on people, process, and methods.. cheers!

Cloud SLA (Government / Defense)

I teach a cloud computing course for Thomas Erl @ Arcitura from time to time and the question that always comes up is the one about service level agreements.   It is a complicated subject that does not get enough attention in our industry.  I am presenting some of the discussions that we have had in class and some of the questions asked all relative to cloud computing and mostly aligned to the defense industry.    This is part of an SLA series of blogs to get people thinking about their requirements and to understand what an SLA can do or not do for a business.

Today I will share a short story .

It was 5:00 PM on a monday afternoon,  a routine procedure on a patient in London turned into a catastrophic challenge requiring expertise from across the pond.    Dr.  Jack Ash is a leading Gastroenterologist living in Ontario, Canada.   Dr. Ash received a call asking if he could help the patient in London.   Dr. Ash has extensive experience with remote surgery a relatively new practice taking shape using cloud oriented services.   Dr. Ash is using IT services provided by the hospital in Ontario.  The services in London are with a different hospital and a different IT service provider.   The configuration of the services look very similar to this (see figure 2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1356984/

The SLA looks something like this IT_Service_Level_Agreement_Publish_To_Customers.   Dr. Ash didn’t have much time, he needed to act fast.   He ran down to the office and coordinated all of the requirements with the remote team in London.   This situation had been discussed before and the staff had practice with dummies and cadavers.  Fortunately for Dr. Ash he routinely performs procedures like this in Ontario between hospitals often.

The stage was set, the anesthesiologist had the patient stable and all of the supporting staff acted as planned.   Due to the situation and set backs some time had gone by and the procedure took place closer to 8:00 PM .

Dr. Ash started the robotic services and invoked various commands over the network.  At first the procedure was going well, there were some minor fluctuations with bandwidth but nothing major.  In order to make sure that the network connectivity was consistent Dr. Ash asked a staff member to call over to his local IT and make sure QoS was turned on.   The helpdesk reported back quickly that all available resources and network traffic managing the robotic services had priority on the network.   The procedure continued and Dr. Ash was noticing severe latency through his video stream.   He had to act fast to finish the procedure and just as he was finishing the final maneuvers, the robotic arms lost connection.  Luckily the original staff working on patient x were in the room for Dr. Ash to talk through the final moments.

What happened?  Why did the arm lose connectivity?  How did the SLA help?  How could the SLA have helped?

Although this story was not real, the technology is real and the fact is that medical practitioners are doing something like this today.   Why did the arm lose connectivity?  I’ll give you a hint, there was a soccer game at Chelsea http://www.chelseafc.com/ and there were a lot of people in London very interested in that game.

There are various reasons for the potential failure of service.   The problem is that most people focus on what technology can do as opposed to understanding where it make sense to use services like this and where it makes sense not to use these services.   There are plenty of business cases that could have created a more stable environment but more often than not businesses choose to go head first into situations like this.   It seems like a great idea and they even had an SLA!  I wonder what that would have done for patient x had this person died.

These are some of the concepts that we will need to explore further.  I will put together some defense oriented generic scenarios for thought.