Cumulus Defensus

Nine months or so ago I wondered who would be the first in global government to build a cloud or, better, to use a cloud provided by a third party. Turns out, and this is probably no surprise, that the first to the former is the US Department of Defense (or would that be Defence?).

From Bloomberg:

When the Defense Department’s John Garing met Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. to learn about cloud computing, he liked what he saw. Enough to send him back to Washington ready to change how government technology works.

Garing, who runs the Defense Department’s technology infrastructure, is now mimicking the companies’ approach internally, developing his own cloud that agencies share. Going beyond that to tap the resources of the corporate world may not be so easy. While using central data servers could save money and protect information from system failures, agencies are hesitant to give up control of sensitive information.

“If I were king for a day, I would say to Amazon and Salesforce, ‘Why don’t we just use your cloud?’” Garing said in an interview. “We are doing the nation’s business here, and the Defense Department can’t afford to go down in any way, shape or form.”

And perhaps very interestingly

The government spent about $68.1 billion in the last fiscal year on technology, with almost a third devoted to infrastructure, according to White House estimates. The portion spent on cloud computing will increase from a “a few percent” of the total this year, Cohen said.

I’d have a guess that $68 billion is about 3 to 3.5 times what UK government spends, at current exchange rates. And if a “few percent” is being spent on clouds (and rising, if I have that sentence right) then several tens of millions are being spent annually already – I wonder how many other governments could say that?

and here’s evidence it might be working already:

Garing, whose Defense Information Systems Agency provides the internal network and computer processing for the military, took his inspiration from the corporate world when he developed his cloud for the department.

Military agencies can contract with DISA to rent storage space and to use its computers for processing information. In an October development test, a user in Falls Church, Virginia, logged onto the network, set up a Web site in seven minutes and paid for it with a credit card, Garing said.

“That has fundamentally changed the way we do business,” he said. “You virtually don’t have to buy another computer in the Defense Department because you can use our servers.”

Miles and Miles (to go)

I’m falling behind my training plan, such as it is. So far my training plan is to compare the distances I run each month with the same period in the run-up to previous marathons (so it’s not quite a month to month comparison, as I count back in 30 day blocks from the date of the actual race – which smooths out the problems when e.g. NY is on the 6th of the month but London is on the 26th).

I have a mountain to climb, so to speak, to catch up with my “February” target (90-60 days to go) which means that there are some long runs coming up this weekend and the following weekend.

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Change Is Rife … no URL needed

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So cool we don’t need no URL? Absurd text speak aside, I loved the morphalike / Mr Men advert – which you can find on youtube.

What intrigued me was that the print ads just say “search change4life” …

is that an admission that the bulk of Internet users still just head to google/windows live/askjeeves and type whatever they’re looking for into the box?

Or is it more of a, you know, statement … who needs to publish a URL when it’s obvious how to find it if you’re part of the ‘net generation

Perhaps a bit sadly, direct.gov’s search engine takes you to a November press release about the site, not straight to the site itself.

If you mistype and go for “changeforlife” … you get a whole different kind of self help.

The Hours (oh the hours!)

Recently, I promised I was going to follow some kind of programme in the run up to the London Marathon. I’ve been looking at various such schedules. I’ve found two so far – one is from Ivan Bisaro at Carmichael Systems (Trainright.com) and the other is from the famed Hal Higdon.

Both require 5 runs a week – 20 or 21 runs a month – and from 5 to 8 hours a week in actual running. Higdon wants you to run 134 miles in the 4 weeks preceding the week of the marathon; Bisaro (who measures his programme in time on your feet) wants you to run 20 3/4 hours.

Running for that kind of time (or distance) per week struck me as amazingly hard to achieve so I thought I’d check what I’d managed since I started tracking my stats in September 2005. The graph below shows how many hours I’ve run per week (the bars, left axis) and, out of interest, my average pace (the line, right axis).

You can quickly see that I’ve very rarely got to 5 hours in a week – call it perhaps 4 times in total. I’m thinking that trying to do it every week will probably kill me. I need a different plan.

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Are You Integrated

I came across this sign this week – on a hoarding just opposite Parliament.

200901171701.jpg I was in intrigued by the spelling of their name – “intergrated” rather than the expected “integrated”

And also by the, I imagine, deliberate change of colour for the “i” and the “r” – perhaps some play on the word “infrared” when applied to matters of security?

I looked them up today – if you type in “integrated security” on google, you get over 15 million hits (as well as the obvious “did you mean ‘integrated security’?” question at the top of the response list). Putting the two words in quotes reduces the count to 1.2m.

The first on the list is “Intergrated Security Management“, who whilst plainly being Integrated, have managed to have a list of Integrated Partners. Partners Integrated With Intergrated one assumes.

The company from the sign has only a placeholder website promising an update soon – although like the “back in 10 mins” sign in a shop window, it’s unclear when the page was first put there.

So are we to think that all of these hundreds of thousands of people can’t spell? I couldn’t find a trace of a confession – something like “hey, when we registered the company name, we were drunk and mistyped it and so we’re stuck with it now.” Some would say I have too much time on my hands I guess.