Welcome!

Security Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Rene Paap, Vormetric Blog

Related Topics: Oracle, Cloud Expo

Oracle: Blog Post

Cloud Opportunity Missed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Government highlighted 3 key assumptions that created the problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To:  Vivek Kundra, Federal CIO

From: Ray LaHood, US Transportation Secretary

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

Vivek,

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

Best regards,

Ray

To which Vivek replies,

Rich,

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

Best regards,

Vivek

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

I wish I could see those see those emails!

More Stories By Rich Bruklis

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

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

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
SYS-CON Media announced that Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow, has launched a new ad campaign in Cloud Computing Journal. The ad campaign, a webcast titled 'Is Your Data Center Ready for the Application Economy?', focuses on the latest data center networking technologies, including SDN or ACI, and how customers are using SDN and ACI in their organizations to achieve business agility. The Cisco webcast is available on-demand.
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness, and in-car entertainment and this excitement will bleed into other areas. On the commercial side, m...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He discussed opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and technical point of vie...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP and chief architect at BSQUARE Corporation; Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc.; and Andris Gailitis, C...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
“The age of the Internet of Things is upon us,” stated Thomas Svensson, senior vice-president and general manager EMEA, ThingWorx, “and working with forward-thinking companies, such as Elisa, enables us to deploy our leading technology so that customers can profit from complete, end-to-end solutions.” ThingWorx, a PTC® (Nasdaq: PTC) business and Internet of Things (IoT) platform provider, announced on Monday that Elisa, Finnish provider of mobile and fixed broadband subscriptions, will deploy ThingWorx® platform technology to enable a new Elisa IoT service in Finland and Estonia.
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The threat landscape of today is drastically different than just a few years ago. Attacks are much more organized and sophisticated. They are harder to detect and even harder to anticipate. In the foreseeable future it's going to get a whole lot harder. Everything you know today will change. Keeping up with this changing landscape is already a daunting task. Your organization needs to use the latest tools, methods and expertise to guard against those threats. But will that be enough? In the foreseeable future attacks w...
As enterprises move to all-IP networks and cloud-based applications, communications service providers (CSPs) – facing increased competition from over-the-top providers delivering content via the Internet and independently of CSPs – must be able to offer seamless cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions that can scale for small, midsize, and large enterprises, as well as public sector organizations, in order to keep and grow market share. The latest version of Oracle Communications Unified Communications Suite gives CSPs the capability to do just that. In addition, its integration ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ActiveState, the leading independent Cloud Foundry and Docker-based PaaS provider, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. ActiveState believes that enterprises gain a competitive advantage when they are able to quickly create, deploy and efficiently manage software solutions that immediately create business value, but they face many challenges that prevent them from doing so. The Company is uniquely positioned to help address these challenges thro...
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, shared some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, a...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...