IT Decision Makers, IT Ignorance
Two surveys released this week reveal that a sizable percentage of federal government professionals involved in IT are unaware of two of the most discussed "new" technologies in recent years: cloud computing and virtualization. I put "new" in quotation marks because both technologies have been around for years.
One-third of federal government IT decision makers surveyed in February and March by the Lockheed Martin Cybersecurity Alliance responded they were unfamiliar with cloud computing. An equal percentage of executives involved in federal government IT polled during those two same months by the Government Business Council drew a blank when asked about their familiarity with virtualization.
The fact that one-third of those involved in shaping government IT don't have a clue about technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization should give us pause about the ability of our government to safeguard key information systems.
Cloud computing traces its ancestry to the 1960s, though it didn't begin to catch on till the closing years of the 20th century as companies such as Salesforce.com began offering their software as a services over the Internet. Virtualization's roots also go back to the 1960s, though its adoption as a way to maximize the use of a server - treating it as if it were several computers - didn't take off until earlier this decade.
Both technologies have received wide attention from government and business technology managers because of their potential to sharply cut computing costs. Both technologies are related, in the fact that data from different organizations - whether or not from the same enterprise - can reside on the same piece of hardware, raising security concerns.
Sadly, this isn't the first time I've been surprised about the absence of knowledge among some IT managers in government and business about the use of relatively new information technologies. I've been covering government and business technology for a quarter century, and most of the IT pros I've interviewed had deployed emerging technologies, or at least state-of-the market technologies, for their enterprises. Perhaps I was speaking to the elite, giving me a false impression that the adoption - or at least consideration - of relatively nascent technologies is more widespread than what's happening.
But the fact that one-third of those involved in shaping government IT don't have a clue about technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization should give us pause about the ability of our government to safeguard key information systems. Frightening thought, isn't it?