Divided We Fall

Fallen_bridge

Checks and balances in government is a great thing.

Our founding fathers were brillant in building it into the constitution to place limitations and constraints on unbridled power.

Yes, we the people…of the people, for the people, by the people.

But recent fighting in government has shown that it is lately more about–of the politicians, for the politicians, by the politicians.

Unfortunately, everyone seems to be fighting everyone–not only across the party aisle, but between state and the federal government, and between branches of the Federal government, itself.

How does this work (or should I say maybe not working up to its ideal)–let’s take an example:

Yesterday, the healthcare law passed by Congress more or less along party lines, and signed by the President, was upheld by the Supreme Court in a suit brought by 26 states, and is being promised or threatened (depending which side of the aisle you are coming from) to be repealed by the next administration

Ah, there you have it–everyone seemingly going against everyone else and fighting what is considered progress to one side, but is harmful from the other’s point of view.

Let’s try another one–also just from yesterday:

Attorney General Eric Holder is held in contempt of Congress in the majority Republican, House of Representatives, with Nancy Pelosi, members of the Black Caucus, and other democrats walking out of the vote.  And this is to release papers on “Operation Fast and Furious” in the Justice Department (the Executive Branch) that resulted in the death of a border agent, Brian Terry of another Federal Department, Homeland Security, 11 miles from the Mexican border. But the papers were held under Presidential Executive Privilege from being released to a Congressional oversight committee. Now this turns to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to pursue or drop, but he is a Presidential Appointee that reports up to Attorney Holder, and could end up the courts to decide.

I can hardly catch my breath now, but a third one this week on immigration:

The Arizona law, with controversial provision SB 1070 that permits law enforcement to check immigration status, when there is reasonable suspicion, of people arrested or detained was ruled on by the Supreme Court, and this provision was upheld. But other provisions were struck down, such as it being a State crime to be an illegal immigrant or to hire one. One presidential candidate, Mitt Romney has called the law a “model for the nation,” while the current administration has felt otherwise.

Some would say this is the way it is supposed to work–this is the way we get issues worked through, grievances addressed and ensure fairness, equity, and that the right thing is being done.

But others may look at this and call it partisanship, ineffective, a waste or time and resources, one step forward and two steps back, a circuitous path to nowhere, a witch hunt or as Representative Alan Grayson said a “circus,” at times.

With huge threats facing our nation on virtually all fronts–from unemployment and the stagnant economy, to our national deficit, falling global competitiveness, ongoing threats of NCBR and cyber terrorism, not to mention natural disasters, chronic illnesses, human rights, poverty, pollution, and food and water shortages–we certainly have a lot to deal with.

The concern is that if we cannot work and move forward together with common resolve–as partners rather than competitors–to create genuine solutions rather than to bicker about who’s right, wrong, and to blame–then divided, we will fall.

We have a choice–unite and put the national and global commons above our own self-interests or yield to an uncertain and most frightening future.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Daniele Bora)

Securing The Internet: A Historical Perspective

Brief_internet_history

This week, I had the opportunity take a great class in Cyber Security / Information Assurance.

As part of the class, we had to do a team project and my part was to present a brief history of the Internet and how this best positions the Federal Government to take the lead in securing the Internet.

Here is my part of the presentation:

Good morning. I am Andy Blumenthal, and I am here to talk with you today about the wealth of historical experience that the U.S. Federal Government has with managing the Internet and why we are best positioned to govern the security of it in partnership with the private sector and international community.

As you’ll see on the timeline, the U.S. Government has played a major role in virtually every development with the Internet from inventing it, to building it, and to governing it, and it is therefore, best prepared to lead in securing it.

It all started with the invention of the Internet by the government.

Starting in 1957 with the Sputnik Crisis, where the Soviets leaped ahead of us in putting the first satellite in Earth’s orbit—this caused great fear in this country and ultimately led to a space and technology race between us and the Soviet Union.

As a result of this, in 1958, the U.S. Government established the Advanced Research Projects Agency (or ARPA) to advance our technology superiority and prevent any future technology surprises.

In 1962, ARPA created the Information Process Techniques Office (IPTO) for enhancing telecommunications for sharing ideas and computing resources.

Finally in 1964, the concept of the Internet was founded with the publication by RAND (on contract with the Air Force) of “On Distributed Communications,” which essentially invented the idea of a distributed computing network (i.e. the Internet) with packet switching and no single point of failure.  This was seen as critical in order to strengthen the U.S. telecomm infrastructure for survivability in the event of nuclear attack by the Soviets.

The Internet era was born!

The U.S. government then set out to build this great Internet.

In 1968, ARPA contracted for first 4 nodes of this network (for $563,000).

Then in 1982, after 8 years of anti-trust litigation, the U.S. government oversaw the breakup of AT&T into the Baby Bells in order to ensure competition, value, and innovation for the consumer.

In 1983, ARPANET split off MILNET, but continued to be linked to it through TCP/IP.

In 1987, the National Science Foundation (NSF) built a T1 “Internet Backbone” for NSFNET hooking up the nation’s five supercomputers for high-speed and high capacity transmission.

And in 1991, the National Research and Education Network (NREN, a specialized ISP) was funded for a five-year contract with $2 billion by Congress to upgrade the Internet backbone.

At this point, the Internet was well on its way!

But the U.S. government’s involvement did not end there, after inventing it and building it, we went on to effectively govern it.

In 2005, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) issued the Internet Policy Statement (related to Net Neutrality) with principles to govern an open Internet—where consumers are entitled to choice of content, apps, devices, and service providers.

And now, most recently, in 2012, we have a proposed bill for the Cybersecurity Act to ensure that companies share cyber security information through government exchanges and that they meet critical infrastructure protection standards.

You see, the government understands the Internet, it’s architecture, it’s vulnerabilities, and has a long history with the Internet from its invention, to its building, and its governance.

It only makes sense for the government to take the lead in the security of the Internet and to balance this effectively with the principles for an open Internet.

Only the government can ensure that the private sector and our international partners have the incentives and disincentives to do what needs to be done to secure the Internet and thereby our critical infrastructure protection.

Thank you for your undivided attention, and now I will now turn it over to my colleague who will talk to you about the legal precedents for this.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

>Turning IT From Frenemy to Friend

>

Fast Company (December 2008) describes Frenemies as a “thrilling intricate dance” of friend-enemy relationships.

Half a year later, CBS News (July 2009) reports that this words is added to the dictionary: “Frenemysomeone who pretends to be a friend, but is really an enemy.”

Recently, I’ve heard the term applied to Information Technology, as in they they here to help (i.e. friend-like), but boy are they often an obstacle as well (i.e. enemy-like).

Obviously not the message any IT executive wants to hear about their folk’s customer service and delivery!

Today, the Wall Street Journal (25 April 2011) writes about the “discontent with the [IT] status quo” and it calls somewhat drastically to “Get IT out of the IT department.

Why?

Based on responses from business and IT leaders, here are some of the key reasons:

– “IT is seen as overly bureaucratic and control-oriented” (51% business and 37% IT)
– “IT doesn’t deliver on time” (44% business and 49% IT)
– “IT products and services doesn’t meet the needs of the business” (39% business and 29% IT)
– “IT consists of technologists, not business leaders” (60% business and 46% IT)

Therefore, the WSJ states “both for competitive and technological reasons…business unit leaders need to start assuming more control over the IT assets that fuel their individual businesses.”

This is being called “Innovative IT”–where “IT shifts to more of a support role. IT empowers business unit self-sufficiency by providing education, coaching, tools, and rules, which allow for individuals to meet their needs in a way that protects the overall need of the enterprise.”

The result is rather than delivering IT to the business, we deliver IT “through the business.

In this model, there is an emphasis on partnership between the business and IT, where:

IT provides services to the business (i.e. through a service-oriented architecture of capabilities)–systems, applications, products, tools, infrastructure, planning, governance, security, and more.
– The business exploits these services as needed, and they innovate by “dreaming up ideas, developing prototypes, and piloting changes” that will most impact on-the-ground performance.

I believe this is consistent with stage 4 (the highest) of architecture maturity–called Business Modularity–as described by Ross, Weill and Robertson in Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: In this stage, we “grant business unit managers greater discretion in the design of front-end processes, which they can individually build or buy as modules connected to core data and backend processes. In effect,managers get the freedom to bolt functionality onto the optimized core.” The result is a “platform of innovation…[that] enables local experiments, and the best ones spread throughout the company.”

Related to this are interviews in the WSJ today with 3 CIOs, that all bear out this IT leadership direction:

– Frank Wander (Guardian Life Insurance)–“We have IT embedded into each business and we have a seat at the table. We’re partners.”
– Norm Fjeldheim (Qualcomm)–“We’re structured exactly the same way Frank is. IT is embedded in the business. I’m only responsible for about half the IT budget.”
– Filippo Passrini (Proctor & Gamble)–“Our business partners are people outside IT….in the past we were always in ‘push’ mode…now…there is a lot of ‘pull’.”

So one of the goals of IT and business is to transform from a relationship of frenemies to friends and genuine partners; this will leverage the strengths of each–the expertise of our technology professionals and the customer insights and agility of our business people.