Paul McCloskey

COMMENTARY

Gateways to the cloud — and a lot more

Mobile devices, IPv6 could change the face of government computing

Last week, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, an outfit that allocates Internet addresses, handed out all but the last batch of available IPv4 addresses, a signal that we are leaving the classical Internet behind and are about to enter a new era of interconnectedness.

From here on, IANA will begin to allocate next-generation IPv6 addresses, which, among other things, will broaden the kinds of devices that can be connected via the Internet and types of information that can be easily exchanged among them. IPv6 will help make the network more dense, continuous, mobile, and easier to manage and secure.

The Internet passes this milestone as big changes are occurring in how federal and state government agencies view and connect to the outside world. A good example is the attitude that senior agency IT managers express toward the use of the latest mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablet computers, by rank-and-file government workers.

In this issue, NASA CIO Chris Kemp refers to the tablet as a “gateway to the cloud.” That’s a fairly countercultural statement considering that it wasn’t too long ago that mainstream IT managers labeled such devices — just like personal computers owned by government employees — as rogue technologies. Although the BlackBerry mobile phone broke down the barriers to the use of smart phones in government, the gates are still raised on newer smart phones and tablets.

But it won’t be long before smart mobile, facilitated by IPv6, will be a conventional government technology — and not just for data messaging. As Kemp goes on to say, the tablet shouldn’t be considered an ancillary device. To users and the public, it is a tangible version of the library, the program, the agency.

Speaking of changes, we have a new feature in this month’s issue. The “Diagnostics” page (Page 34) is provided to us by the Corporate Executive Board, which advises agencies on business improvements using analytic tools and lessons from its 5,000 member organizations. This month, Diagnostics presents a simple tool for assessing cloud computing readiness. We hope it helps. In a time of high-speed change, good diagnostics is practically mandatory.

About the Author

Paul McCloskey is editor-in-chief of GCN. Follow him on Twitter: @Paul_GCN.

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