The Federal government is in the midst of one of the most massive technology transformations in recent history. Every facet of the government is being evaluated to determine if the technology involved and already in place is both suitable to the current job at hand and cost-effective in the bigger picture.
Now I used the word ‘technology’ above and most readers here immediately picture data processing and IT infrastructures, but after spending the last few days at the Washington D.C. based Federal Office Systems Exposition (FOSE) exposition and conference, I have a new appreciation for that term. It turns out nearly every aspect of running the Federal government involves some type of people, process or product technology. Many of these don’t really jump out to most people until they are challenged to think about it. From the computers to the cameras, from the printers to the pistols. The tools to protect our nation are amazing to browse through and the attendees each had a deep appreciation for the specific technologies that they were directly involved in.
Where else can you start walking from one end of the trade show floor talking to dozens of vendors about security and data center efficiency software, pass by an on-floor theater where 400-500 people were gathered to hear a keynote presentation entitled “A Collaborative Approach to Catching a Terrorist”, and then continue on to aisles of vendors demonstrating their Tactical Command Vehicles (TCV) and weaponry? Clearly technology in Washington D.C. has a much broader reach than our traditional IT view.
Don’t get me wrong, the show had a number of the monster IT firms (like IBM and DELL) present, along with many smaller companies like Shavlik (showing their highly regarded server patching solutions), Nlyte (showing off their integrated process/workflow management for data center assets), CohoData (showing a very cool scalable on-premise storage offering) and Feith (showing their leading edge records management). Now since this was a government focus, it also had a ton of surveillance companies like Axis Communications, it had emergency communications companies like Redsky (makers of E911 systems) and a fair number of document handling companies like Fujitsu (showing off their high-speed and secured document scanners and management suite).
This was a trade show like none other and provided a huge opportunity for those present to reset their understanding and appreciation of the term ‘technology’. Clearly folks were here with purpose. All of the government agencies had representation as attendees and exhibitors (GSA, Homeland, DOJ, etc). The sessions were well attended (including mine about data center consolidation) and lots of questions were being asked on the floor and in the sessions.
So did I sit in the monster sized Tactical Command Vehicle parked on the show floor? You bet. The folks at NomadGCS were kind enough to let me climb in to get an appreciation for all of the technology available in a protection offering that rises to something like 10-12 feet off the ground and spans perhaps 20 feet front to back. Did I get to experience any of the assault weapons being shown by Beretta, or H&K? Sadly no. I drew the line on my curiosity and decided to yield to those that understand that technology a bit better than I…