University cloud computing contracts

Did you hear about the university professor signed up for a cloud service and unknowingly left his department on the hook for two years of service beyond his grant….or the university who had more than 500,000 student records (social security, addresses and grades) hacked? Cloud computing poses special demands upon Universities who can no longer employ the same procurement process used to acquire computers and software since the 1980s.

Are you aware that today many Universities (and K12 School districts) use a popular email marketing program that sells contact information of students to vertical marketing firms who in turn re-sell them to other marketing and product companies?

Today’s aggressive marketplace and the business of cloud services has radically changed the procurement process. Many of us have a fiduciary duty to protect data of our students, research and institutions.  Regardless of how students freely give away their data on Facebook, our institution will still be held responsible to  protect all of our institution’s data.

My views on the impact of Cloud Computing in Higher Education have been slowly evolving. This past May I was given an incredible opportunity to further my learning by participating in an Engineering & Technology Short Course with the UCLA Extension.
Remember those “must-take classes” in college?  UCLA’s Contracting for Cloud Computing Services is one on my list of those opportunities you cannot afford to ignore.  My advice: Find your way to UCLA.

Again, I hope this can help as many people as possible understand the lessons taught in class.  Due to the nature of the beast they are in no specific order. They are all top level concerns:

For over a generation traditional desktop PC vendors focused on features and price. Since the late 1980s schools established trust in vendor’s products to conduct business, educate students and store student data. From floppy disks to magnetic tape all data was stored locally on campus.

Today’s globalized internet marketplace is radically different when compared to the modem era of computing. The cloud computing model represents a number of fundamental shifts including Software as a Service(SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) are well established.

And although it’s a bit ahead on the radar we should not overlook the quickly emerging SuperComputer as a Service. While there is no  standard acronym, there are established vendors like SGI’s Cyclone, Amazon’s Cluster Compute, IBM’s Watson, and with forthcoming merge between PiCloud and D-Wave‘s quantum computing….more options for High Performance Computing will be available to many smaller, lean and aggressive institutions.

These new services are directly tied to the “consumerization” of technology: advanced technologies at affordable price points. As a result the new focus is around access.  The shift to mobile computing via netbooks, smartphones and tablets is well underway, yet many school’s do not have a sufficient wireless infrastructure. Students, faculty and administrators are today carrying a laptop, smartphone and probably an iPad. Schools are struggling to to handle bandwidth demands of so many devices in concentrated areas around campus, from the Student Union to the ResHalls.

IMHO the tipping point with Cloud computing and digital devices is the convenience of access. Today many diverse schools have a campus community that simply demands anytime/anywhere access to data. And it’s no longer just email and web.  Its BIG data from data base research to the delivery of HD media. For better (or for worse) society has become trained to demand mobile solutions that easily integrate into the app economy and their mobile lifestyles.
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Pentagon Papers: Rolling Thunder a “colossal misjudgment”

Thats a pretty harsh analysis from Volume IV-7-c (page 56) of the Pentagon Papers. This volume may not have been previously declassified. This Volume displays a detailed analysis and background to the lack of effectiveness of Operation Rolling Thunder.

Pentagon PapersThis volume clearly shows critical errors in judgement by Curtis Lemay who in referring to our war in Vietnam famously stating: “we’re going to bomb them back into the Stone Age.”

I have come to understand Rolling Thunder as an immense bombing campaign, dropping more bombs than on the entire pacific campaign during World War II.  And we bombed the hell out of Germany and Japan.

The analysts who wrote this volume have determined the ongoing Rolling Thunder operation was truly a waste of money and resources.  The most terrible cost was our American soliders who died executing this campaign.

While reading these pages I was somewhat surprised this report had not surfaced before last summer when the entire 47 volumes were released by the National Archives.

Clearly the North was a agrarian economy and US military intelligence could only identify a small number of valued bombing targets that were neither vast nor critical to the North Vietnamese.

Targets linked to their infrastructure was so limited that when the initial draft was presented to President Johnson, researchers had to go back and widen the scope.
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Pentagon Papers Part IV-C7a

Air War in the North: 1965 – 1968 Its interesting to read Pentagon Papers Volume IV-C7 to learn how global politics was playing out against China for a majority of the war. To be frank it’s all stated at the beginning of the volume on the US air war in the north:

1 Jul 65
Under Secretary of State George Ball memo to the President.
Ball argues for “cutting our losses” in Vietnam and negotiating an end to the war. A massive US intervention would likely require complete achievement of our objectives or humiliation, both at terrible costs.

Pentagon PapersBall was the Director of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey in London during the war which measured the impact of bombing Nazi Germany.  Before Johnson, Ball served President Kennedy and was the only one in the President’s inner circle who opposed escalating the war in Vietnam.

He told President Kennedy “within five years we’ll have 300,000 men in the paddies and jungles and never find them again.” In response to this prediction, “JFK is reported to have laughed and replied, “Well, George, you’re supposed to be one of the smartest guys in town, but you’re crazier than hell. That will never happen.” Further in this Volume George Ball wrote a telling statement before Kennedy’s assassination:

Politically, South Viet-Nam is a lost cause. The country is bled white from twenty years of war and the people are sick of it. The Viet Cong — as is shown by the Rand Corporation Motivation and Morale Study — are deeply committed. Hanoi has a Government and a purpose and a discipline. The “government” in Saigon is a travesty. In a very real sense, South Viet-Nam is a country with an army and no government. In my view, a deep commitment of United States forces in a land ‘war in South Viet-Nam would be a catastrophic error. If ever there was an occasion for a tactical withdrawal, this is it.

If only President Kennedy had listened to his advice. Maybe he did but did not live long enough to see it through.
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Pentagon Papers Part IV-C6c

Pentagon PapersVolume IV-C6c reveals a number of interesting items. The CIA’s contributions to prepping Westmoreland and a memorandum immediately following Tet had the following expanded topics of recommendation:

4. Drive on the Viet Cong Infrastructure
In our concern over the behavior of our allies, we must not neglect our enemies and the present opportunity to compound and exacerbate communist problems. Operation Phoenix which is targeted against the Viet Cong must be pursued more vigorously in closer liaison with the US. Vietnamese armed forces should be devoted to anti-infrastructure activities on a priority basis. The Tet offensive surfaced a good deal of the infrastructure and the opportunity to damage it has never been better. This would force the VC on the defensive and head off the establishment of local VC administrative organizations and VC attempts to set up provisional governmental committees.

7. The Prime Minister
We should solicit Ambassador Bunker’s views on the desirability of replacing the Prime Minister. If he is to be replaced we should agree on his successor beforehand, in consultation with Thieu and Ky.

The dreaded Phoenix Program.  For the first time Phoenix was mentioned in the Pentagon Papers.  CIA was always commenting on how effective this counter-terror program was in weakening the Viet Cong during an ‘unconventional war’ in the South following Tet.

For the first time in the Pentagon Papers this volume displays the full text of American journalists articles critical of the US command.  The first was written (Part IV-C6c – Page 65) by Neil Sheehan and Hedrick Smith:
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BMW, iPad & mobile hotspots

Pleased to see BMW has launched a design solution supporting iPads. Its just not the mount (which does rotate by the way) on the back of the driver’s seat.

BMW’s mobile hotspot technology, a branded MiFi solution that allows any devices in the car to connect to the Internet on the road. And with the addition of Apple’s Siri solution being integrated onto the steering wheel …. well I’m interested to see what happens when iOS6 ships with Siri support on iPads.

Pentagon Papers Part IV-C6c

I feel that the opening pages of Volume III: 1965–1967 US Ground Strategy and Force Deployments is a telling example of why we lost Vietnam.  One cannot help notice that we were way off the mark regarding the enemy in this volume.

Pentagon PapersWe relied upon technology to fight when behind the scenes we knew the political structure of the South Vietnamese government would never succeed, their desertion rate was rising and constant turnover of leaders weakened their moral. Yet we continued to support the South because of the risk (at the time) attributed to the domino effect regarding communism in Asia and the Cold War relationship with the Soviet Union:

The friendly picture gives rise to optimism for increased successes in 1968. In 1967, our logistics base and force structure permitted us to assume a fully offensive posture…A greatly improved intelligence system frequently enabled us to concentrate our superior military assets in preempting enemy military initiatives leading us to decisive accomplishments in conventional engagements. Materiel and tactical innovations have been further developed and employed: Long range reconnaissance patrols, aerial reconnaissance sensors, new observation aircraft, air-mobile operations and the Mobile Riverine Force (MRF), to name a few.

The MRF has been significantly successful in depriving the enemy of freedom and initiative in the population and resources rich Delta areas. The helicopter has established itself as perhaps the single most important tool in our arsenal — and we will welcome more.

While the helicopter may have won the day in the Ia Drang Valley at LZ X-Ray bad command decisions to not to use helicopters led to an ambush for those remaining troops walking from LZ X-Ray to LZ Albany, about 4 kilometers to the north-northeast. I’m no longer convinced about the accuracy of the report are concerning Tet:

The enemy’s TET offensive, which began with the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Saigon on 31 January 1968, although it had been predicted, took the U.S. command and the U.S. public by surprise, and its strength, length, and intensity prolonged this shock.

Predicted? The Pentagon Paper’s acknowledge the Tet offensive had been predicted.


Its safe to assume IV-C6c will reveal more problems with Clark Clifford as the newly installed Secretary of Defense.

Latest read: They Marched into Sunlight

This book has been very difficult to finish. Not for the number of pages nor a wandering eye. They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967 has change my understanding about the war in Vietnam in the same way Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War due to the release of the Pentagon Papers.  This book brings home the war to the campus of UW-Madison and the south side of Milwaukee.  Half the book is about the campus antiwar movement and the Dow Chemical riot on the same weekend two sons from Milwaukee Wisconsin died in an ambush at Ong Thanh.
Our country is approaching the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Enough time has passed to acknowledge tragic mistakes. What makes this very sensitive is the number of Americans who died in a war we know was ‘lost’ even before US soldiers first stepped foot at Da Nang in 1965.

The worst part is that we learned of tremendous loss of life due to poor intelligence and leadership.

Our country has never been able to wrap this around the bigger issue of our long standing efforts in Vietnam that began at the close of World War II.

Must admit I feel a bit numb after reading half of the Pentagon Papers.  Reading They Marched Into Sunlight is truly disheartening.  I am now more determined than ever to finish all 7,000+ pages of the Pentagon Papers before the end of the year.

The focus at UW-Madison as described in my earlier post showed our nation was in public turmoil well before the Tet Offensive. Can you imagine today a selected minority (of privileged students) who could avoid serving by going to college while those poor middle class sons went to fight and die in Vietnam?

The closing chapters of They Marched Into Sunlight leave me (again) frustrated by 40 years of reflection. Why on earth did the military approach the enemy around Lai Khe in the same way after three consecutive skirmishes? And why –– why after bombing the area the night before Alpha and Delta companies headed out, did the military refuse to provide mortar fire when requested?  The ambush was well underway. The Silver Star awarded to Major General John H. Hay, payment to the Michelin tire and rubber company for every tree damaged on their plantations and finally the burial of Danny Sikorski at St. Adelbert’s Cemetery in Milwaukee.

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