Photo: Mark Kaletka
Several members of the Computing Sector attended this year's National Laboratories Information Technology Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, last month. The summit brings together IT professionals from all of the Department of Energy laboratories.
We asked the attendees for their insights and observations about this year's NLIT Summit. Here are some of their responses:
Jerry Guglielmo (CCD, OCIO/Service Managemen/Process Managers):
There was a talk on Lean IT, which essentially is about doing more with less by increasing efficiency and not by decreasing staff. Standardizing work practices and focusing on what is needed to provide value to the customer are some of the key concepts. While the terms used may be different, the concepts are similar to human performance improvement (HPI), Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and I suspect other frameworks and standards that are based on the notion of best practices. People have been delivering services since well before Information Technology as we know it existed, and while the specifics may be evolving, there are general concepts that remain relevant.
Understanding customer satisfaction, like many other things, can be a complex challenge. Distilling satisfaction down to just one number, or even a set of high-level numbers, can lead to inaccurate conclusions. Additionally, there are several challenges to combining information on multiple questions into one rating. Quantities measured may be dissimilar, and combining them may not be meaningful. Even if they can be combined, how does one determine the appropriate weighting for each quantity? For example, the rating for the appropriateness of a solution may go up, while the time to resolve it goes down, so overall the rating stays the same. Is this good, bad or indifferent? The concerns here can be generalized to any dashboard, and the challenge is to think carefully when combining numbers about whether the combination makes sense.
Phil Demar (CCD/Network and Virtual ServicesWide Area Networking and Network Research):
The NLIT networking track was new this year and seemed to generate modest interest. Approximately half of these talks were provided by Los Alamos National Laboratory, the host lab. Fermilab presented two talks, one on our wireless futures and the other on our IPv6 deployment plans. Andy Rader drafted the wireless talk, which was presented by Anna Olivarez and me, while I drafted and gave the IPv6 talk. In general, computing mobility support seemed to be the area of highest interest across the various NLIT technology tracks, with wireless support and software-defined networks receiving the most attention within the networking track.
If there was one overriding impression I took away from NLIT, it would be that we are very fortunate to have a relatively open network environment here. Many labs, particularly on the National Nuclear Security Administration side, are highly constrained in deploying wireless services for mobility support. While we are able to look forward to meeting the wireless technology challenges of the future, many of those other labs have to focus on working around their policy barriers of today.
Keith Chadwick (SCD/Scientific Computing Facilities/Grid and Cloud Computing):
I presented a talk, "Virtualization and Cloud Computing in Support of Science at Fermilab" and attended many interesting talks on a variety of topics including:
- Virtual Network Core Infrastructure to Meet Evolving Mission
- Network virtualization: the SDN you really want
- Science Applications in the Cloud
- Drive-thru Windows (and Linux): Would you like fries with that server?
- Defeat the Tyranny of Averages: Find Out How Satisfied Customers *Really* Are
- Can we Identify Spear Phishing Targets before the Email is Sent?
- Software Defined Networks & Openflow - What do they mean for my lab?
- E-Discovery: People, Processes, and Tools for Success
- Unclassified Private Cloud Services at LANL
- Agile Methods as a Risk Mitigation Strategy
- and some of the Fermilab presentations
- Special presentation on Wen Ho Lee.
In addition, I had discussions with the various vendors present at NLIT including: Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Dell, Splunk and CDWG. The discussion with HDS was especially productive--based on recommendations from their representative, I was able to suggest alternative BlueArc storage configuration options for the IF/GCC BlueArc storage purchase that resulted in a savings of approximately $50,000.
Tammy Whited (OCIO/Service Management)
As a first time attendee of the NLIT Summit, I was impressed with the tracks that were available for the laboratory community to exchange information. I attended a few talks on the IT Governance Track and learned a lot about what other labs are doing. We are advanced in many areas so we were able to provide helpful information to the other labs. There were opportunities to get together one on one or in small groups to dive deeper into issues you may be facing and to learn how they are addressing those issues. I really found that to be a valuable part of the summit.
View NLIT 2013 Highlights presentation by Mark Kaletka as well as all presentations given at the summit by Computing Sector members.