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Archive for the ‘Networks and telecom’ Category

DorobekINSIDER: GovLoop issue of the week: CES, CES Government, and mobile

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GovLoop InsightsWelcome to the GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek.

Each week, our goal is to where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

This week, we’re going to get geeky… we’re going to embrace our inner nerd. This week was the annual gadget-a-thon known as CES — the Consumer Electronics Show out in Las Vegas. I got to attend for the first time this year — both to CES and CES Government. One of the key speakers was Steve VanRoekel, the federal chief information officer. And later on, we’ll have highlights of his speech, and talk about what it means for you.

Also later on, we’ll have our weekend reading list — the weekends are a good time to rejuvenate — but also some time to take a step back and ponder. And we’ll have some reading that may guide you as you work to think outside of the box.

But after the break, we’ll have our look at the week that was for the second week of January 2012… plus the full Week in Review…

Read the rest of this entry »

DorobekINSIDER: News Channel 8 discussing cyber-war — is it real?

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I will be on NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Tonight at 7:30p tonight — and we’ll be talking about the ongoing debate: Is the threat of cyber-war exaggerated?

As I mentioned earlier, this question was the subject of an Intelligence Squared debate earlier this month.

You can hear the debate here… or see the debate here.

We are looking for your thoughts… how would you answer the question: The threat of a cyber-war is exaggerated?

Arguing that the threat of cyber-war was exxagerated were:
* Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
* Bruce Schneier, the cryptographer, computer security specialist, and writer who is the founder and chief technology officer of BT Counterpane, formerly Counterpane Internet Security. He writes the popular Schneier on Security blog.

And in opposition:
* Mike McConnell, former vice admiral in the Navy, the former director of the National Security Agency and the former Director of National Intelligence. He now works for Booz Allen Hamilton.
* Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School and a faculty co-director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He writes the Future of the Internet blog and is on Twitter.

Some additional resources:

There currently are more than 40 cyber-security bills somewhere in the legislative process on Capitol Hill.

After heading up the President’s 60-day Cyberspace Review last year, Melissa Hathaway has some analysis. She has complied all that knowledge in a 31-page report which broke down the different bills into sections. Nine bills make the legislation to watch list, including updates to FISMA. Hathaway also says there great need for more public awarness for cybersecurity issues both in the U.S. and abroad.

That assessment came before Sens. Joe Lieberman (DI- Conn.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Tom Carper introduced the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, which was discussed at a hearing today. (More information on the hearing here.) Today on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Dorobek Insider, we spoke to Bob Gourley, the former chief technology officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the the editor in chief of CTOVision.com, said he thinks the bill would be a step forward. (Read his post here.)

Finally, Gen. Dayle Meyerrose, former CIO of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, addressed this issue on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s In Depth with Francis Rose. More here.

Written by cdorobek

June 15, 2010 at 5:55 PM

DorobekINSIDER EXCLUSIVE: GSA cancels one cloud RFQ, plans to launch a new cloud RFQ

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The General Services Administration has canceled its for cloud infrastructure as a service request for quotations and will move to a new RFQ, GSA officials confirmed this afternoon.

In September, GSA extended the deadline for the RFQ saying that the agency wanted to give vendors more time.

This shift comes as the cloud environment has really evolved, GSA officials tell FederalNewsRadio.com’s DorobekINSIDER.

From GSA:

There was an Infrastructure as a Service RFQ that was canceled today. We are moving to issue a new RFQ. Both the definition of IAAS and the marketplace have evolved and matured since GSA began this procurement process. With this new RFQ, we hope to enable a robust pool of vendors and maximize industry participation providing federal customers with a wide range of IAAS offerings. With the rapid evolution of the Cloud Computing marketplace and the ever-present security needs of federal agencies, the new RFQ that will allow vendors to provide additional offerings with a higher level of security than was required in the original RFQ.

Industry sources say that GSA hopes to have a new RFQ out in the next 30 days.

Industry had been concerned because there were a lot of unanswered questions around the RFQ specifically — and cloud computing in general. And industry has been pushing GSA to address issues such as security and privacy, among others. Industry sources say those issues need to be addressed by GSA and the Office of Management and Budget.

The new RFP will be led by GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications, led by Dave McClure. GSA’s Office of Citizen Services operates USA.gov, which operates in the cloud.

Background:

From FederalNewsRadio.com’s FedCloudBlog: GSA’s Casey Coleman at the Gov 2.0 Summit

InformationWeek from Aug. 9, 2009: GSA Outlines U.S. Government’s Cloud Computing Requirements

Written by cdorobek

February 25, 2010 at 6:54 PM

DorobekINSIDER: AFCEA Homeland Security Conference panel on cyber-security — the liner notes

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I am moderating a panel at AFCEA’s 9th Annual Homeland Security Conference — creatively named DHS – The 7-Year Itch – Renewing the Commitment: The Definitive Dialogue on Critical Homeland Security Issues. Specifically, the panel that I’m moderating is titled President’s Comprehensive National Security Initiative. And we have a good panel to discuss these issues, even if the title of the panel doesn’t fully capture it:

Thursday, February 25
9:15 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Panel 6: President’s Comprehensive National Security Initiative
Industry insight into streamlining the cyber security effort through all levels of government. Thoughts and recommendations on policy, strategy and guidelines necessary to secure federal systems; integrate existing federal government resources; and anticipate future cyber threats and technologies.

Moderator: Christopher J. Dorobek (confirmed)
Co-anchor, Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris
Editor-in-chief, the DorobekINSIDER.com

Panelists:
Mr. Shawn Carroll (bio in PDF)
Executive Director of Engineering & CTO
QWEST Government Services

Mr. John Nagengast (bio in PDF)
Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives
AT&T

Mr. Marcus Sachs (bio in PDF)
Executive Director for National Security & Cyber Policy
Verizon

Credit where credit is due: I’m just the moderator. I did not pull the panel together. So I want to credit specifically Wray Varley, Qwest Government Service’s director of advanced programs, DHS & DoJ, for pulling all the pieces together.

As I mentioned, our title is just a tad bid misleading because it really doesn’t capture the scope of what we hope to talk about. (I’m not sure people know what the President’s Comprehensive National Security Initiative even is. I’ve put some background below, including a March 2009 report from the Congressional Research Service that lays it out.)

In the end, what we hope to talk about cyber-security broadly — and our discussion will really go beyond that rather governmental sounding initiative.

It is clear that times are changing in the cyber world. Cyber-security is becoming more of a check-list item to becoming a real national security priority. People are hearing about cyber-security repeatedly, but I’m not sure they know what they can — and should — be doing.

A few data points:

* The Google hack: This comes from Google’s announcement that the company was considering pulling out of China following a massive hack. Of course, we learned that these attacks were actually against a number of private sector companies and investigators are still searching for where these attacks came from. And on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke with George Kurtz, the CTO for cyber-security company McAfee, about those attacks. Hear that conversation here. McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies recently came out with a new report that found people are under attack more then they generally know. You can hear the authors of that report, titled In the Crossfire: Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyberwar, here.

* The ZeuS attacks: After Google came word from NetWitness that some 2,400 organizations — including government agencies — had been attacked.

* Could the U.S. lose a cyber-war? That was the stark warning from Mike McConnell, the former director of national intelligence during testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, according to GovInfoSecurity.com. McConnell told lawmakers earlier this week that if a cyberwar were to break out today — “the United States would lose.” He went on to say that this is not because the U-S doesn’t have talented people or cutting edge technology. It is simply because the country is the most dependent and the most vulnerable — and because the country has not made the national commitment to understanding — and securing — cyberspace.

During the discussion, we are going to review this from several perspectives:
* Carrier operations — Nagengast is going to discuss what the telecommunications carriers can/should/are doing to address these important issues.
* Policy issues — Sachs is going to discuss the public and private policy issues that can/should/are helping to address this issue.
* What agencies need to do — Finally, Carroll will go review what agencies can/should/are doing to address these issues.

And my guess is that somewhere in there, we will talk about Networx, which was widely hailed as a real opportunity for agencies to upgrade their network security infrastructure. And earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission was one of the first agencies to use the Networx contract’s provisions for the Trusted Internet Connection initiative. TIC is an OMB initiative that seeks to reduce the number of government connections to the Internet to better enable agencies to secure data that passes through those connections, and OMB has been pushing agencies to move forward with TIC implementation.

Some resources — and I’ll add to these if there are links mentioned during the session:

* Congressional Research Service report: Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative: Legal Authorities, Policy Considerations [March 10, 2009] Report thanks to OpenCRS — and you can download the PDF of the report from their site here.

* Center for Democracy and Technology analysis of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative

* The China threat: Here is some appointment listening — and reading. Last week on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to James Fallows of The Atlantic magazine, who wrote a fascinating piece about China generally, but also that country’s role as a cyber-attacker, which he argues is somewhat exaggerated… although he goes on to say that he doesn’t believe we are paying enough attention to cyber-security generally. Hear our conversation here. I think you’ll find the conversation — and his article — illuminating.

Written by cdorobek

February 25, 2010 at 7:15 AM

DorobekInsider: Lieberman, Collins want Networx delay answers

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Everybody pretty much saw this coming — with so many agencies… is dragging their feet too strong… how about — having failed to transition to the Networx telecommunications contract, Sens. Lieberman and Collins of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have asked the Office of Management and Budget why… and what they’re doing about it.

Essentially, they are asking for answers to three questions:

1. What action s has OMB taken to assist the transition to Networx?
2. Why have agencies delayed the transition from FTS200 I to Networx?
3. What remedial actions can agency managers take to ensure transition activities are taken before the current contracts expire?

The full letter is posted below.

I mentioned that I got to moderate an AFFIRM pannel billed as Voice of the Customer: GSA, Networx Transition, & Beyond. We had a great group:

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, CIO, Interior Department (bio);
Karl Krumbholz, Director, Network Services Programs, GSA Integrated Technology Solutions (bio)
Michael Brown, Executive Director, IT Services Office, Homeland Security Department (bio);
Mike Ponti, Director, Strategic Resources Planning, ASD/NII, Defense Department (bio)
Bhagowalia and Krumbholz focused on the strategic issues of the transition, while Brown and Ponti focused on the tactical issues — what are the challenges to making this happen.

Bhagowalia and Krumbholz gave a lot of information about how the CIO Council and GSA are really working with agencies to urge… push… cajole… encourage agencies to move from FTS 2001 to Networx.

You can see the PowerPoint slides here:

Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller was at the session and you can read and hear his report here:

The General Services Administration is giving agencies four extra months to transition to the Networx telecommunications contract.

GSA has set Aug. 30, 2010 as the new and final drop-dead-date for agencies to hire one of five vendors and begin moving their voice, video and data services from the FTS 2001 contract to Networx.

“We will not make the January or April deadlines so we’ve decided to move them both back to Aug. 30,” says Karl Krumbholz, GSA’s director of the Office of Network Services Program in the Federal Acquisition Service. “Our carriers told us even as of the April deadline was causing them concern over whether or not they could actually transition orders in that length of time. So it’s problematic even August to the extent they would get all the work done.”

Agencies had to tell GSA by January if they needed parallel operations during their transition between the two contracts. And then departments had until April to make their award decisions in order to receive money from GSA for their transition costs.

Here is the story from NextGov:

GSA pushes back Networx deadlines
By Gautham Nagesh 11/19/2009

The General Services Administration has extended two intermediate deadlines for agencies switching to the Networx telecommunications contract, but an observer said it remains unlikely that they will finish the move by June 2011, when services under the previous arrangement will expire.

GSA is giving agencies until August 2010 to pick a Networx vendor and begin changing services, said Karl Krumbholz, director of the network services program at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. Originally they had until January 2010 to request funding and until April 2010 to submit their orders. The extension comes in response to a request from the Interagency Management Council steering committee, chaired by Interior Department Chief Information Officer Sonny Bhagowalia.

Read the full story here.
Meanwhile, here is the release from Lieberman and Collins:

LIEBERMAN, COLLINS SAY STRONGER LEADERSHIP NEEDED FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS SWITCH
Agency Transition Delays Cost Taxpayers $18 Million Per Month

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Wednesday pushed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to exert stronger leadership in federal agencies’ transitions to new telecommunications services.

The new services, provided by contracts under the General Services Administration’s Networx program, are expected to save the federal government millions of dollars but instead are costing taxpayers money as agencies delay transitioning to the new system. Networx will provide telephone, network and cyber security services to agencies.

A letter to OMB outlining the Senators’ concerns follows:

The Honorable Jeffrey D. Zients
Deputy Director of Management and Chief Performance Officer
Office of Management and Budget
7257′” Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20503

Dear Deputy Director Zients:

The General Services Administration (GSA) telecommunications contracts provide basic telephone, network services, and information technology services to federal agencies. These contracts are very important for ensuring that agencies have the telecommunications abilities to perform their missions and efficiently manage taxpayer dollars. As you are aware, GSA’s existing telecommunications program, known as FTS2001, is the successor to a line of programs that have provided telecommunications to the federal government. FTS2001 is scheduled to expire in June 2010.

In 2007, GSA awarded contracts for a successor program, known as Networx, and has been working with more than 135 agencies to assist the transition of 50 types of services and thousands of voice and data circuits. As potentially the largest telecommunications service s transition ever undertaken by the federal government, this transition has experienced its own challenges. In particular, as of November 2009, GSA reported that nearly 96 percent of the savings projected by this transition have not been realized, and agencies have been slow to take appropriate steps to ensure a smooth transition.

During the previous transition to FTS2001, delays were encountered that resulted in raised telecommunications costs and an estimated savings lost of $74 million. We are concerned that the slow transition to Networx is a repeat of the past. Specifically, every month that agencies delay transitioning to the new program, an estimated $18 million of savings are lost.

We understand GSA has taken a number of steps to assist the transition to Networx and is working to ensure agencies have adequate information on the steps needed to transition before the FTS2001 contracts expire. However, we also believe that strong leadership from the Office of Management and Budget would be useful in speeding the transition.

In addition to the cost-savings, we also believe that agencies should be using Networx to take advantage of newest technologies instead of solely using the same or similar services from their existing contracts. This is of particular concern given the security of federal networks and the opportunities to use new technologies to assist agencies in strengthening their cyber defenses.

We are interested in knowing the specific actions your office has taken and is taking to ensure that federal agency managers have prioritized this very important transition of telecommunication services. To that end, we would appreciate your responses to the following questions:

1. What action s has OMB taken to assist the transition to Networx?
2. Why have agencies delayed the transition from FTS200 I to Networx?
3. What remedial actions can agency managers take to ensure transition activities are taken before the current contracts expire?

We also request your office provide a briefing on Networx to this Committee no later than January 31, 2010.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter and assistance in working with federal agencies during this transition to ensure the effective and efficient use of telecommunication services to perform their missions.

Sincerely,

Joseph I. Lieberman
Chairman

Susan Collins
Ranking Member

Written by cdorobek

December 9, 2009 at 6:24 PM

DorobekInsider: Watching the Networx transition — or lack there of — at AFFIRM on Wednesday

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One of the more interesting stories of the year in government IT is the transition to the new Networx telecommunications contract — or lack of transition, to be honest. During the confirmation hearing of Martha Johnson to be the administrator of the General Services Administration, she said that Networx transition was going to be one of her top priorities — and she said that the process has been too slow and is costing the government big bucks.

On Wednesday, I will be moderating a panel at the AFFIRM luncheon billed as Voice of the Customer: GSA, Networx Transition, & Beyond.

We have a great line-up:

  • Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, CIO, Interior Department (bio);
  • Karl Krumbholz, Director, Network Services Programs, GSA Integrated Technology Solutions (bio)
  • Michael Brown, Executive Director, IT Services Office, Homeland Security Department (bio);
  • Mike Ponti, Director, Strategic Resources Planning, ASD/NII, Defense Department (bio)

We’re waiting on one other confirmation, we hope.

Regardless, there should be some great lessons learned — and some really good insights about how the CIOs are really very focused on this transition — you’ll get to hear how the CIO Council specifically is focused on the Networx migration… and why.

Earlier on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke to Bob Woods, president of TopSide Consulting, about the lagging transition. Read more and hear that conversation here.

Meanwhile, Federal Computer Week recently ran an interesting three-part series on the status of Networx transition.

I hope you’ll join us Wednesday. You can register from the link here.

 

Written by cdorobek

November 16, 2009 at 2:53 PM

DorobekInsider: Avaya wins the auction for Nortel Government Solutions, Nortel says

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Update: On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris Tuesday, we spoke to Chuck Saffell, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Nortel Government Solutions, Nortel’s wholly owned U.S. subsidiary. Hear that conversation here:

Many people have been watching what happens with Nortel Government Solutions after the parent company, Nortel Networks, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Nortel has scores of government users — it operates one of the largest voice over IP networks anywhere for the Social Security Administration.

Nortel announced today that Avaya for Nortel’s enterprise solutions business, which includes Nortel Government Solutions, $900 million cash, with an additional $15 million reserved for an employee-retention program.

The WSJ notes:

With the acquisition, Avaya’s market share will surpass Cisco’s in North America, giving it access to Nortel’s corporate customers, which include more than 80 of the Fortune 100 companies. Avaya will also be able to expand its distribution capability through Nortel’s network of reseller partners.

Last week, Verizon issued a court filing arguing that the sale of Nortel’s enterprise business jeopardizes critical U.S. law enforcement, anti-terrorism and national defense interests, because, the WSJ reports, Avaya has said that it won’t take on Verizon support contracts.

“Communications networks critical to the operation of the federal government, and the defense, safety, health and security of the American public are at risk,” Verizon said in a court filing Wednesday.

Avaya said it was in discussions with Verizon to try to negotiate arrangements to support the Verizon contracts, the WSJ reports.

Read Nortel’s release here… or below…

Nortel Selects Avaya as Successful Bidder for Enterprise Solutions Business

• Will sell the assets of the Enterprise Solutions Business, and shares of Nortel Government Solutions and DiamondWare to Avaya
• Avaya to Pay US$900 Million in Cash to Nortel, with an Additional Pool of US$15 Million Reserved for an Employee Retention Program
• Canadian and U.S. Court Approvals of Sale will be Sought at a Joint Hearing on September 15
• Combination Provides Current and Future Customers with Investment Protection and Clear Path Forward

TORONTO – Nortel* Networks Corporation announced today that it, its principal operating subsidiary Nortel Networks Limited, and certain of its other subsidiaries, including Nortel Networks Inc. and Nortel Networks UK Limited, have concluded a successful auction of substantially all of the assets of Nortel’s global Enterprise Solutions business as well as the shares of Nortel Government Solutions Incorporated and DiamondWare, Ltd. Avaya Inc. (Avaya) has emerged as the winning bidder agreeing to pay US$900 million in cash to Nortel, with an additional pool of US$15 million reserved for an employee retention program.

The sale is subject to court approvals in the U.S., Canada, France and Israel as well as regulatory approvals, other customary closing conditions and certain post-closing purchase price adjustments.

Commenting on the announcement, Nortel Enterprise Solutions President Joel Hackney said:

“This is fantastic news for our customers, as this will empower us to continue to deliver industry-leading solutions and services focused on unlocking the enterprise business potential enabled by unified communications. It provides the capability to chart our future with laser-focus, enabling customers to compete in new ways with greater scale and resources. We look forward to working closely with our customers, partners and stakeholders during this pre-close phase to ensure that we continue to innovate to meet customers’ needs with high-performance, efficient and secure communications solutions.

“As we work through integration planning, it is business as usual, and we will continue to focus on supporting our installed base,” Hackney said.

“Through deal close and beyond, we will deliver on our stated customer commitments and maintain high levels of service and support. We will ensure our customers can fully leverage their existing Nortel investment as they benefit from the complementary capabilities of the Nortel and the Avaya portfolio of products and services.”

In addition, given the complementary strengths of the two companies in the U.S. Federal Government market, the combined operations are anticipated to yield a company best-suited to address the unique information technology requirements of the civil government and military. Noted Chuck Saffell, CEO of Nortel Government Solutions:

“The companies’ strengths in the information technologies sector of the U.S. Federal Government are remarkably complementary. Our combined product offerings, as well as our strong professional services business and solutions approach provide a win-win for both our government customers and our business. With our combined knowledge of the federal market, we will be focused on delivering the best-performing, most cost-effective capabilities available to support our customers’ mission. Our goal continues to be helping our customers provide security, livelihood and well-being for the citizens of the United States.”

Customers look forward to the potential the future holds for them.

“Nortel earned the trust of our user group members by delivering innovative, reliable communications solutions and ensuring high-levels of service and support, “ said Victor Bohnert, Executive Director of the International Nortel Networks Users Association. “With the announcement of today’s purchase by Avaya, we look forward to extending that relationship forward to serve the business communications needs of our constituency base across the globe.”

Partners also benefit from the move.

Both Nortel and Avaya channel partners will have opportunities to grow their business as the move to unified communications accelerates and the need for advanced services to design, deploy and manage such solutions expand. “The independent members of the Nortel Distributor Alliance Council are excited about the future potential that today’s announcement brings to the tens of thousands of enterprise customers we support,” said Rick Dawybida, President of DAC Americas. “We look forward to a commitment focused on ensuring customers can fully leverage their prior investments while also getting expanded choices. The combined portfolio capability of Avaya and Nortel will offer the marketplace industry-leading solutions as companies move aggressively to unified communications.”

While today’s auction is a significant step in the overall sale process, it is not the final step. Nortel will work diligently with Avaya to close the sale later this year, subject to the timing of regulatory approvals. Nortel will seek Canadian and U.S. court approvals of the proposed sale agreement at a joint hearing on September 15, 2009. The sale close is expected late in the fourth quarter 2009. In some EMEA jurisdictions this transaction is subject to information and consultation with employee representatives.

As previously announced, the Company does not expect that its common shareholders or the preferred shareholders of Nortel Networks Limited will receive any value from the creditor protection proceedings and expects that the proceedings will result in the cancellation of these equity interests.

Written by cdorobek

September 14, 2009 at 6:24 PM