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How Well Do You Really Know Your Network?

By Sean Applegate // December 11, 2014

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Sean Applegate is director of technology strategy at Riverbed Federal.

Last week, my 9-year-old son and I were watching the movie “The Croods,” streamed directly into our living room through the magic of Netflix (and the cloud). All was going well until about the 40-minute mark, when the movie abruptly stopped and the dreaded “buffering” began.

“Netflix is broken again,” my son said.

“Well, not exactly,” I said. “It’s probably the network.”

My professional and family worlds were colliding.

I say that because federal agencies deal with the same types of application performance issues every day, resulting in productivity losses they can’t afford. As the complexity of federal IT infrastructures continues to grow, so do the demands placed on government networks. Agencies are operating hybrid environments, with enormous amounts of data being shared across various public and private clouds, data centers and geographically dispersed facilities.

That’s a lot of pressure on network resources. The first step in optimizing performance and avoiding crippling latency, or congestion, is answering one fundamental question: “What’s going on across my network?”

It sounds simple, but many federal CIOs are facing a network visibility crisis. Isolated systems and the lack of application-aware ...

3 Ways Mobile Will Attract Top Tech Talent in Government

By Michael Ashford // December 8, 2014

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Michael Ashford is the vice president of strategic partnerships of Granicus.

It's time to stop denying that an inevitable change is needed in government recruiting. That change is mobile technology, and if accepted and adopted, it will be the catalyst to attracting much-needed young government workers and top IT/tech talent.

In fact, according to Mika Cross, a presidential management council fellow for workplace transformation strategy, the highest-rated places to work in the federal government are also, coincidentally, high adopters of mobility practice.

You may be wondering why, exactly, is there so much demand for young recruits in government? To begin with, there is a strong concern about the generational mix making up the government today. According to the Office of Personnel Management, about 45 percent of the federal workforce was more than 50 years old in 2013, and by September 2015, it is estimated that nearly 25 percent of all federal employees will be eligible to retire.

Additionally, an increasingly innovative and fast-paced world lends itself to the young and talented minds who grew up with technology at their fingertips -- those who will be charged with continuing to create this type of environment. Without a strong group of ...

How Do You Protect Against Insider Threats?

By Patrick Boynton // December 3, 2014

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Cybersecurity is usually described in the terms of a siege -- walls defending an agency’s data from the malicious hackers and unfriendly nation states outside. The most serious threat facing an agency today, however, may be from one of its own.

Insider threats are nothing new in government, but the vulnerability of sensitive data has become acute in the digital era. The Manning and Snowden leaks gave this new threat a public face. This past July, the issue hit headlines again when a yet-unidentified individual leaked the guidelines behind the government’s terrorist watch list.

The scope of the threat is clear, considering the breadth of the 5.1 million federal employees and contractors who hold security clearances, and the breakneck pace at which federal data is now created. Moreover, the threat is coming of age as openness and mobility have become buzzwords in the workplace.

So how does the government protect sensitive data? More to the point, how does it do so without stifling the exchange of information within agencies and across government? The Obama administration has taken a lead by establishing a National Insider Threat Task Force in 2011, and by issuing a November 2012 memo outlining best ...

Key Internet and Tech Concepts Still Mysteries for Many

By Camille Tuutti // November 25, 2014

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Know what net neutrality means and understand the differences between the Internet and World Wide Web? Then you have a better grip of certain technology concepts than many Americans, according to a new poll.

Pew Research Center’s new survey of U.S. Internet users’ knowledge of digital technology and its concepts, history, leaders and applications reveals varying levels of awareness.

While most Americans are able to correctly identify certain tech leaders, they are less likely to be familiar with policy-related concepts or other modern technological innovations, according to the Web IQ Quiz.  

Just over a fifth of Internet users are aware “the Internet” and “the World Wide Web” are not the same thing. Fewer than half of respondents understand a company’s privacy statement does not necessarily means it keeps confidential the data it collects on users.

Another hot policy topic, net neutrality, was a head-scratcher for many. Sixty-one percent of respondents knew it means equal treatment of digital content by Internet service providers, but nearly one-third guessed wrong and another 9 percent did not answer the question.  

Only 34 percent of respondents knew Moore’s Law refers to the number of transistors on a computer chip.

Respondents were ...

Why Do So Few Feds Champion User Experience?

By Nextgov Staff // November 21, 2014

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User experience may be gaining traction in the federal government, but a new survey reveals many still don't know exactly what it is and are reluctant to dedicate resources to it.

Commonly known by its shorthand UX, user experience refers to the quality of a user's interaction with and perceptions about a particular system. 

Jonathan Rubin, ‎user experience program manager at the General Services Administration, and Jean Fox, research psychologist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, set out "to learn about how we can best improve the effectiveness, ease-of-use and value of federal digital systems by connecting their teams to their customers," according to a blog post Rubin wrote Nov. 21.

In total, responses were culled from 101 respondents from 35 agencies. With such a small sample size, “it’s not a scientific survey, but still very telling,” Rubin wrote. 

Overall, the governmentwide user experience survey had some bright spots. Nearly 40 percent of respondents said their UX resources had increased since 2013, and more than half said their resources stayed the same. Only 11 percent reported seeing a dip in the number of those doing UX at their agency.  

Additionally, UX is more widespread now than last ...