After thirteen years on Federal News Radio, it seems reasonable to take a look a year’s worth of interviews and let listeners know what is popular. Below are the top ten shows from 2019 on Federal TechTalk with John Gilroy.
2019 was an eventful year for federal information professionals. Of all the proposed “killer apps,” the one that ends up as a winner is robotic process automation. I seem to use that phrase every time I walk into the studio.
Federal TechTalk with John Gilroy is a radio show and a podcast. As you know, podcasts are available for years and gather listeners twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.
When you scroll down the list you will be surprised at the number one show for 2019 – it was recorded in October of 2016! This means that every company has the opportunity to promote the interview over the long haul and derive brand awareness from Federal News Network.
It looks like the general categories boil down to cyber, agile development, and platforms. In the top ten, we have companies as large as Salesforce and as new as UiPath. One of the best stories comes from Appian’s Michael Beckley; he has a great technical background and can tell the low code, no code story like no other.
December 2019 saw me complete 627 interviews. If you are scheduled to appear on Federal Tech Talk with John Gilroy, please note the tremendous reach that your company can get with Federal News Network.
Organizations that participated in social media promotion seemed to land on the top ten — JG
There is perfect storm brewing in the federal information technology community. On one hand we see a drastic increase in data that is being presented. We all know about the internet of things and the tons of data that the cloud can ingest.
On the other hand, we see an increased need to monitor and be careful with cybersecurity and requirements to improve services in federal call centers. This increased workload is contrasted with the fact of many people reaching retirement age in the federal government.
That’s where the concept of Robotic Process Automation or (RPA) comes in. This week on Federal Tech Talk, Jim Walker from UiPath joined host John Gilroy to discuss how RPA fits in with today’s federal environment, and how can it reduce cost for federal information technology projects.
Walker was a federal employee for decades and can empathize with the situation that many listeners see themselves. During the interview, he suggested that it is time to look at system that can take away the drudgery of day-to-day activities. The idea is to use software tools that can be called digital assistants or even “robots” to do the mundane, time consuming acts that will free up time for more analytical activities.
The General Services Administration is getting behind this concept of Robotic Process Automation. They are establishing a Community of Practice where federal professionals can share ideas about using automation to reduce errors and speed up compliance. Walker stated that over 300 people have signed up for the new Community of Practice for Robotic Process Automation.
The guest is Rick Pina, Chief Technology advisor, World Wide Technology. He has twenty five years’ experience working in technology in the Department of Defense. Today, he works at World Wide Technology (WWT). This is a company based in St. Louis who has recently opened a technology center in downtown Washington DC.
In the beginning of the interview, Rick recounts how when he was attempting to evaluate products he had an elaborate way to assemble and set up test beds for complex systems. It was expensive, difficult, and time consuming. The WWT offers a single location where systems can be compared in an environment what allows for “What if” scenarios to be played out. An enterprise architect, or person involved with information assurance, can see what happens what systems are integrated in a dynamic manner.
Because of his experience, Rick knows that responding to cyber threats has changed drastically over the years. He whimsically recalls how some in the military would put “rings around things.” A reference to setting put perimeters and firewalls.
There is no doubt that today’s security matrix must include traditional defenses, however, cyberthreats are changing and modifying so greatly that a new approach is demanded. For example, Rick mentions the concept of Zero Trust. New methods of security must be implemented in manners that are consistent with compliance and system integration.
Paul Tatum, Senior Vice President, Solution Engineering – Public Sector at Salesforce, is our guest in the studio. One of the concepts Paul explains is Salesforce and agile development
Most listeners do not know that Salesforce is used in every federal agency. This fact would be a surprise to most federal IT leaders, it sure was a surprise to me. Most of the conversation with Paul Tatum explains how a company like Salesforce and help agencies hit their goals.
When Salesforce in 1999 it was focused on commercial organizations who wanted to give their salespeople better tools to deepen their relationship with customers. The key word here is “relationship.”
Over the decades, Salesforce has discovered that the term “relationship” isn’t limited to people seeking to make a purchase. Federal agencies have relationships with people who have medical claims, tax claims, and many other areas of concern. Why not take a tool that is proven in the commercial arena and apply it to the federal world.
Paul Tatum details how Salesforce has expanded capabilities to include case management, assisting teams in collaborating, handling IoT data, and even storing files securely. During the conversation, he mentions how they are partnering with Amazon Web Services to help federal agencies integrate and store data in a safe and secure cloud.
Today’s Salesforce is modernizing engagement in the government cloud – whether the customer is a warfighter or aerospace service technician. The interview with Paul Tatum gives insight on how to to combine Salesforce and agile development.
Do you think Salesforce has a role in the federal government?
Our guest is Michael Friedrich, Chief Architect, Cyxtera Technologies – Federal. Today’s interview has a focus on perimeter cyberdefense. He has a background in senior engineering positions in organizations like SAVVIS, Terramark, Verizon, and IBM. Many of the projects he was involved with included agencies like F.B.I .GOV and Whitehouse .GOV.
Because of this experience, he has a unique ability to expand on the concept of cybersecurity and zero trust. People who have been involved in networking for their careers know that the Virtual Private Network (VPN) has been around since the mid-1990s. During the discussion Michael states that the VPN was a great solution in its time, but cybersecurity has moved on.
Today’s network environment assumes that attackers are inside the system, what is commonly known as internally compromised clients. The VPN van be viewed as just another option for entering a federal system and then moving horizontally. Michael Friedrich says that the new perimeter is the person.
He talks about Multiple Authentication Transport Layer Security. This means to authenticate first, then allow access to specific sets of data. This authentication can involve identifying devices, locations, and even time of access. Today, this concept is commonly known as zero trust.
Firewalls have evolved into systems that have thousands of rules, a complexity that gets in the way of responding to a threat. In order to protect high value data sets, one must not assume data is available on a need to know basis.
'What matters is who is doing the work, is she doing appropriate work, is she acting the way we expect her to act, can we reduce the friction around the things she is supposed to do? ' Jeremy Rissi, VP Commercial and Public Sector … Click To Tweet
The guest is Jeremy Rissi, Vice President Commercial and Public Sector, MobileIron. We will focus on identity management and federal cybersecurity.
What precipitated the interview was the recent update of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12). Believe it or not, it is fifteen years old. In Internet time, it was written by Benjamin Franklin.
Essentially it admits that systems have been breached and the only way to protect data is to use an approach with strong identity credential and access management. It has been said that it extends HSPD-12 to the digital world.
Jeremy Rissi outlines why MobileIron has an offering that can help agencies reach this noble assignment. When it comes to Identity Credential Access Management (ICAM) he suggests that everyone already has a phone, why not use its unique characteristics for identification.
The argument goes that a system can be in place that can validate the device, establish user context, check app authorization, verify the network, and then detect & remediate threats. It is Jeremy’s contention that a phone -based system can eliminate passwords and give flexibility for changes in endpoint management in the future.
The wide-ranging discussion also includes some insight on using open standards like FIDO, OIDC (Open ID Connect) , and SAML as potential building blocks for handling identities.
Scott Smith, Managing Director of Sila Solutions Group, visits Federal Tech Talk to discuss aspects of Identity Governance and Administration as well as Privileged Access Management.
Cybersecurity has changed. Today, we see porous networks and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) securely connecting to compromised networks. If the malicious actors are inside the firewall, then how can administrators control their activity.?
Back in 2010, the concept of Zero Trust was introduced as a potential answer. As with most initiatives, the devil is in the details. Most of the proposed solutions involve granting access to specific individuals, apps, and data. Implementation will have to include a deep understanding of identity.
During the interview, Scott Smith talks about four basic concepts to allow federal information technology professionals to apply the concept of Zero Trust to federal systems. He outlines his thoughts on controlling users, apps, data, and the network itself.
One aspect Scott highlighted was the dynamic nature of the identification policy. For example, a person may transfer agencies and have to be reassigned rights and privileges. If that person leaves the government, access must be stopped. What happens when a federal leader travels? Should an identification system grant this person access only from one geographic location?
When it comes to the data on the system itself, some estimates are that 80% of data generated today is unstructured. If the malicious code can be resident, who should have access to that data, and when?
Scott ends the discussion with observations on how analytics can assist in applying Zero Trust the dynamic federal IT environment.
John Cofrancesco Vice President, Active Navigation is in the studio. We started off the interview with a remark by the Association of Information and Image Management. They have claimed that 50% of an organization’s retained data has no value. Some will call this Redundant, Obsolete, or Trivial Data (ROT). Some even talk about data “hoarding.”
Well, how does that apply to federal information technology professionals? During this far-ranging discussion, John Cofrancesco outlined some concepts about records management. These include getting a grasp of the data that is on your network. From there John talks about systems that can “tag” data so it can be managed successfully.
During the interview John talks about storage concepts from the Office of Management and Budget as well as the National Archives Record Administration requiring agencies to eliminate paper and use electronic records. The key phrase in this mandate is “to the fullest extent possible.”
The cost of this excess storage is enormous. First of all, systems administrators can easily multiply the time it takes to respond to discovery requests. Millions of superfluous records can decrease the speed of access. It is quite possible that malicious actors can place the code in this storage area increasing vulnerability to cyberattack.
'Appian, as an innovative software company, we deliver that same product to the biggest banks, financial institutions, life sciences companies, and 42 federal agencies.' Michael Beckley, CTO and Founder, Appian Click To Tweet
Mike Beckley, Appian Chief Technology Officer & Founder is the guest in the studio. In this interview he expands on low code software development for federal agencies Appian was founded in 1999 and is well known in the Washington, D.C. area. They are in business to reduce the cost of software development for large organizations. This is an idea that has been kicked around for a long time.
Winston Churchill once said that Americans always do the right thing – after they have tried everything else. This has applied to developing software. For decades people have labored with details of gathering program requirements only to fail because of a slow-moving system. This was called the waterfall method.
Back in 2001 a group of developers got together on a mountain top and came up with the solution – the Agile Manifesto. No, this is not a 19th-century document for the liberation of the workers; it is an approach to software development that focuses on short iterations and flexibility.
Up until now, this has generally been a futile aspiration. Michael shows how the Appian low code approach can speed up software development.
During the interview, Michael talks about how emerging technologies are increasingly putting pressure on software development systems. The answer is to pivot with the innovations and allow for customization and integration with legacy systems.
Appian offers a system of low code where a team of business professionals can implement the concepts of agile development. The Appian platform of low code allows for reusability of segments of prewritten code which gives developers the ability to respond quickly to new requirements.
Do you think Appian’s low code has a role in the federal government?
'Data is the core of this thing . . . other components allow you to secure the data ' Dr. Chase Cunningham, Forrester Click To Tweet
Dr. Chase Cunningham from Forrester came down to the studio to talk about cybersecurity. He was invited because four of my most recent guests quoted one of his articles. After doing some investigating, it was for a good reason.
Dr. Cunningham spend 13 years as a cryptologist at the National Security Agency. Seems like an auspicious beginning for a subject matter expert on information security. If you combine that with a Ph.D. in Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance you have the makings of a great guest. Currently, he is disseminating his knowledge by working as a Principal Analyst for well-known Forrester.
When asked to set priorities for federal information professionals, he said it was important to start with identification. His informal survey of threats all seems to have identification as one of the core problems.
From there, Dr. Cunningham indicated that he endorses the concept of Zero Trust. Most folks know that the idea of Zero Trust originated with a Forester analyst over a decade ago. Recently, the concept has gained steam and was a trending topic at the most recent RSA Conference.
The key is to have granular control over all assets on the network. Because there are a variety of platforms and tools to accomplish this task, Dr. Cunningham suggests that cyber professionals can learn a lesson from the agile development crowd – set up a virtual environment to test the efficacy of any system that allows detailed control.
This approach will allow federal information professionals to control authentication as well as authorization – the keys to enabling the zero-trust concept.
This is called a Virtual Reference Platform – and is heartily endorsed by Dr. Cunningham and Forester. If you would like to learn more about setting up a virtual platform to test Zero Trust concepts, you may want to attend the Forrester event in September called Security & Risk 2019 held at National Harbor.
Here’s proof of the long term value of an interview on Federal Tech Talk! The top rated show for 2019 is from 2016!!! These interviews and bring value to the companies for years!
The guest is George Young, senior director Federal at Elastic. When it comes to federal information technology, there is a great move to the cloud.
One of the selling points is the ability “dynamically” configure systems. The goal is for agencies to spend just enough but not too much for the task at hand.
You may ask how this is accomplished? If that is your question, then listen to this interview. Young defines Elastic as an open source search and analysis platform. The real strength is that it will work with small scale as well as petabytes of data.
You can download the code and test drive Elastic. If it serves your needs, you can continue or get the commercial version to give you graph exploration, machine learning anomaly detection, fine-grained security and alerting.
It’s already being used by over 1500 websites at GSA alone. It is behind many of the solutions you see offered in the area of analysis. This is because you can find it on Amazon GovCloud as well as Microsoft Azure.
Who is on the top ten list for 2019 for Federal Tech Talk?
Elastic, Forrester, Appian, NavigationArts, Sila Solutions, MobileIron, Cyxtera, Salesforce, WWT, and UiPath
How many interviews has John Gilroy conducted on Federal Tech Talk?
At the end of 2019, John Gilroy completed 627 interviews on Federal Tech Talk with John Gilroy on Federal News Network.
Can a show recorded in 2016 be the best of 2019?
It was unexpected. The Elastic interview with George Young has great lasting power. This shows the power of a podcast interview — it sits on a server increasing a company’s reach for years.
How did this list get generated?
Staff at Federal News Network looked an internal systems and confirmed with Google Analytics to generate the list.