The Cloud Can Save Us Billions…But Can We Afford it?

first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… alex williams A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Yesterday the Oregon state treasurer’s office announced that it has seen power consumption in its data center drop 25% in the first month since it adopted a virtualized infrastructure.That kind of example makes it seem like cloud computing and virtualization are viable options for leaders at the state and federal levels of government. It’s a correct assumption. But the reality is all together different.This week the Obama administration ordered a stop in upgrades to 30 major information technology projects, a decision that, according to The Washington Post, impacts about $20 billion in government spending. The projects were designed to upgrade computer systems that manage financial information and transactions for federal agencies.The news reflects a paradox for the Obama administration. It is a big proponent of cloud computing but it faces pressures from all sides to cut expenses. Elections are coming up and the GOP has some influence. In that respect, the spending cut is as much about politics as it is about managing technology infrastructure.Thanks to the recession, anxiety about job loss is in full bloom. In this environment, moving IT assets to the cloud or adopting virtualization can be perceived as a potential threat.That dynamic creates a challenge for IT. Ongoing advances in virtualized and cloud computing environments could help governments save billions of dollars. But what exists instead is a patchwork network with little data exchange between government entities and even less accessibility to information about the running of government. It’s a problem with implications at the local, state and national levels.Terror Threat: Data Failure?The patchwork network problem is apparent at the highest levels of government. Sharing between federal agencies is impeded as the ability to share information often involves extracting it from silos and then aggregating and analyzing it for subsequent collaboration and review. The data from each silo has to be viewed almost in singularity. That can be time consuming, expensive and error-prone. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to blow up a plane over Detroit, had been entered in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) system before he attempted his attack. TIDE contains the list of about 550,000 known or suspected terrorists. He had been reported by his father to the United States Embassy in Nigeria, who had believed his son had been radicalized. But no one prevented Abdulmutallab from attempting to attack a Northwest Airlines flight as it started its descent into Detroit last year on Christmas Day.From The Atlantic:“Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s name was in the database, officials have said, along with biographical information and the warning provided by his father, who told the CIA’s chief of station in Nigeria that Abdulmutallab had fallen in with terrorists. Why Abdulmutallab’s name was not forwarded to the State Department or the FBI for further review, especially in light of warnings about Nigerians preparing to attack the United States, is the focus of an intense investigation. Datamarts like TIDES are only as good as the info that goes in and only as good as the common format it is compared against.”And this from Wired:“[A] Justice Department inspector general report earlier this year found that the FBI was mishandling the watch list and was failing to add legitimate suspects under terrorist investigation to the list while also failing to properly update and remove records from the list, subjecting U.S. citizens to unjustified scrutiny.”It’s conceivable that better data storage, analysis and optimization could have provided the capability to discover information about Abdulmutallaband and get it to the people who need to make quick decisions. The task of passing critical information relies on processes that require checking multiple sources. Why the FBI is mishandling data is a reflection on how we have been dealing with the process of modernizing legacy environments and outmoded database environments.A dearth of funding mires many government agencies. Even the antiterrorism database has been slated for budget cuts. Again, from The Atlantic:“According to one official, who asked not to be identified because intelligence budget matters are classified, the administration and Congress slashed the budget for the National Counterterrorism Center by at least $25 million. Those affected, the official said, included employees responsible for maintaining the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) system, which contains the list of about 550,000 known or suspected terrorists.”Starving IT: Legacy EnvironmentsIt’s almost come to the point of starving for some agencies. The IT environment becomes so antiquated that sustaining life is all that matters. Virtulization is impossible as changes to the entire system are required even to access data.The state of New Jersey, for instance, has a payroll system that is 41 years old. What’s striking is how poorly the New Jersey government is serving the public by not updating these aged systems. Information that should be freely available to the public is so locked up that it can’t be reached. Only the most important agencies get the funding needed to keep systems modernized.According to The Press of Atlantic City, the problem became apparent when the newspaper’s requests for computerized records from two state agencies couldn’t be granted because of severe technical limitations.“In one case, the records are not even kept on computers. In another, The Press was told agency operations would halt if it attempted to copy the computerized records requested.Situations like these mean that independent – or even state – analysis of certain records to find trends or trouble spots is impossible. For example, The Press sought to analyze complaints about injuries inflicted on customers by nail salons. Without computer technology, that work would be overwhelming or cost-prohibitive. The newspaper also sought to analyze complaints against cable television providers. The analysis was not feasible given the outdated technology.”In the article, New Jersey State Treasurer Andrew Sidemon echoes the sentiment about the lack of funding:“But Ebeid said funding has not allowed widespread modernizing of systems, only for maintenance of what’s installed now. The gulf between departments, where some run these “legacy” systems while others have been modernized, has depended on raising the funds themselves.But most other departments rely on the general fund. Those, Ebeid said, have been left with the old technology from previous generations. Young information technology (IT) staff, fluent in current programming languages, have even been trained to work with those old machines.”Legacy systems are often maintained by an older generation of IT professionals who were schooled in the complexities of heavyweight applications tied to central-server networks. Managing these networks is a bit of an art form. Technicians and engineers each wield their own unique set of skills. They write scripts that repair problems. Over time, it’s analogous to using too much duct tape.The Politics of IT SavingsAnd then there is – as we mentioned earlier – the issue of jobs. Chief information officers from the state and federal level gathered earlier this month at the Government Technology Research Alliance conference. Their remarks at the time highlighted the problems associated with jobs and the adoption of modern technologies.According to Government Computer News, there’s a push by the Office of Management and Budget to consolidate data centers. It makes sense. There are 100 federal agencies. Each one has anywhere from five to 20 data centers.Ken Griffey is transition manager for NASA’s National Center for Critical Information Processing and Storage (NCCIPS), a federal shared services data center. NCCIPS hosts data centers for the Homeland Security and Transportation departments, as well as the Navy’s supercomputers.Government Computer News wrote that:“Pure common sense says that we can save billions if we consolidate,” Griffey said.”I wonder how practical that is going to be. NASA has 10 fiefdoms. NASA appears to be an agency on the surface, but it is very politically driven for each state that has a NASA center.”The challenge, he said, results from the fact that NASA data centers provide jobs. It’s unlikely that any state is going to volunteer to give up its data center and the 1,000 or so jobs the center provides.“I see those as obstacles to data center consolidation. The obstacles are more in the political arena,” Griffey said.Success StoriesWhile there are significant obstacles, success stories do exist. GCN points to the state of Utah, which consolidated from 35 data centers down to two. The state now has enough scale that it can provide data center capabilities to cities and counties. The cities and counties then pay for data center services out of their operational budgets.And in the state of Oregon, its treasury department isn’t content with just reducing power consumption. It’s also replacing its servers in two phases. In the first phase, 37 servers have been virtualized. The department says that equates to about $46,000 in hardware costs. In the second phase, the state will save about $373,000. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img Tags:#cloud#cloud computing#Virtualization Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Retrain Coal Workers for Solar

first_imgThe Trump administration has announced new pollution rules for coal-fired power plants designed to keep existing coal power plants operating more and save American coal mining jobs. Profitability for U.S. coal power plants has plummeted, and one major coal company after another has filed for bankruptcy, including the world’s largest private-sector coal company, Peabody Energy. The main reason coal is in decline is less expensive natural gas and renewable energy like solar. Coal employment has dropped so low there are fewer than 53,000 coal miners in total in the U.S. (for comparison, the failing retailer J.C. Penny has about twice as many workers).RELATED ARTICLESSolar Jobs Are BoomingWill a Merged Tesla-SolarCity Put a Solar-Powered Battery in Every Home?Coal Is No Boon for U.S. Treasury, Report SaysA Cloudy Future for CoalCoal Production Hits 35-Year Low The EPA estimates the new rules will cause about 1,400 more premature deaths a year from coal-related air pollution by 2030. The Trump administration could avoid the premature American deaths from coal pollution — which amount to about 52,000 per year in total — and still help the coal miners themselves by retraining them for a more profitable industry, such as the solar industry. A study I co-authored analyzed the question of retraining current coal workers for employment in the solar industry. We found that this transition is feasible in most cases and would even result in better pay for nearly all of the current coal workers. How to make the jump? What is left of the coal mining industry represents a unique demographic compared to the rest of America. It is white (96.4 percent); male (96.2 percent); aging, with an average age of 43.8 years old; and relatively uneducated, with 76.7 percent having earned only a high school degree or equivalent. Many are highly skilled, however, with the largest sector of jobs being equipment operators at 27 percent. Many of these skills can be transferred directly into the solar industry. In the study, we evaluated the skill sets of current coal workers and tabulated salaries. For each type of coal position, we determined the closest equivalent solar position and tried to match current coal salaries. We then quantified the time and investment required to retrain each worker. Our results show there is a wide variety of employment opportunities in solar — the industry overall already employs more than five times more people than in coal mining, at over 250,000 by one industry group estimate. We also found the annual pay is generally better at all levels of education, even with the lowest-skilled jobs. For example, janitors in the coal industry could increase their salaries by 7% by becoming low-skilled mechanical assemblers in the solar industry. Overall, we found that after retraining, technical workers (the vast majority) would make more money in the solar industry than they do in coal. Also note this study was about careers and was done before an uptick in the practice of hiring temporary coal workers. The only downside on salaries we found are that managers and particularly executives would make less in solar than coal. This represents only about 3.2% of coal workers that are professional administrators. Retraining needs How would coal workers make this transition? There are over 40 types of solar jobs which the DOE has mapped out. They range from entry-level jobs, such as installers, to more advanced positions in engineering and technical design. Most coal workers could not simply walk into a solar job; they would need some retraining. But certain positions require less training. For example, a structural engineer in the coal industry would not expect to need additional schooling to work as one in the solar industry. And for some coal employees, the retraining would amount to only a short course or on-the-job training. This is particularly true for installers, which represents the most common and geographically spread solar jobs. There are various programs already set up to do this, such as California’s solar apprenticeship program or one in Oregon, for example, and another through the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. More advanced positions would require more education. Some solar-related engineering positions call for up to a four-year university degree, which has a large range in costs, from $18,000 to over $136,000, depending on the school. Our paper includes appendices that can help current coal workers match their existing job to the best potential fits in solar, as well as what training they’ll need. (Please note the costs and specific schools used are only examples and are not meant to be prescriptive; for example, most coal miners that need college credits would be able to find less expensive options at their own state schools.) Overall, the analysis showed that a relatively minor investment — viewed from a nationwide retraining perspective — would allow the vast majority of coal miners to switch to solar-related positions. In the worst-case scenario we calculated, the cost was $1.87 billion. Counting the benefits Although there was a dip in solar jobs last year, in general the solar industry needs trained workers. Since the rapid decrease in the costs of photovoltaic technology, unsubsidized solar is now often the least expensive source of electric power, and solar deployment is rising in the U.S. The way I see it, if the country retrains coal miners for the solar industry, the workers themselves win by making larger salaries in a growing field; America wins because we will be more economically competitive with lower-cost electricity; America wins again because of lower health care costs and reduced premature deaths from coal-fired air pollution; America wins a third time because of an improved economy and solar-related employment; and even the environment wins. President Trump could even win by taking credit for it — he did recently sign an executive order that boosts American apprenticeships, which could be used to train coal workers for solar jobs. That is a lot of winning. Joshua Pearce is professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University. This post originally appeared at The Conversation.last_img read more

10 months agoEverton boss Silva: Baines future could be in midfield

first_imgEverton boss Silva: Baines future could be in midfieldby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveEverton boss Marco Silva says Leighton Baines’ future could be in midfield.Everton experimented with Baines in a new position during Roberto Martinez’s time as manager but the plan was shelved soon after.However, Silva says: “It is possible.“When Roberto told you that, what I can tell you is that you are talking about a player with fantastic individual qualities.“His passing, his last decision, his crossing is amazing and it could be. To be honest, it is not something I have spoken to him about but it could be something that happens in the future.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

10 months agoBarcelona fullback Jordi Alba admits new contract frustration

first_imgBarcelona fullback Jordi Alba admits new contract frustrationby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveBarcelona fullback Jordi Alba has again expressed frustration over a lack of progress regarding new contract talks.He has a contract until the summer of 2020, but would like to move forward with talks on a new deal.”It doesn’t just depend on me, as it also depends on the club,” he said after victory over Celta Vigo.”When I signed for Barcelona it wasn’t for money.”I came here for the feeling and because it is my home.”In the end, it’s not enough to say that I’m a great player, as actions also matter.”A deadline? When the contract ends.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

25 days agoEx-Arsenal chief Jonker warns Dutch teens against England move

first_imgEx-Arsenal chief Jonker warns Dutch teens against England moveby Paul Vegas25 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveTelstar coach Andries Jonker has warned Dutch teens against moving to England.The former Arsenal academy chief is critical of the system in place in England.Jonker told FOX Sport: “The road through England is not the road. In the interest of their development, youth players should not do that. You go there in an Under-18 competition, which is divided into Northern and Southern England. “In the north, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool play against each other. In the south Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. So you don’t play with and against the best clubs, that’s a problem. In addition, the best talents go with the Under-23s. But a 16-year-old boy who plays against 22-year-old guys with Premier League experience is not the solution either. “So those competitions there, they don’t function for those guys to develop.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Video: Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije Hits Last Second Jumper To Beat Virginia Tech

first_imgGeneral view of court at Carrier Dome.SYRACUSE, NY – NOVEMBER 8: General view of Syracuse Orange basketball game against Cornell Big Red on November 8, 2013 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)The 2014-15 Syracuse basketball team has seen a number of games due to poor late-game execution this season, leaving it squarely on the bubble with Selection Sunday just 39 days away. A loss to lowly Virginia Tech at the Carrier Dome could have been disastrous to SU’s tournament hopes, but instead, the Orange flipped the script on the Hokies tonight.With 6:33 left in the game, a Justin Bibbs jumped gave Virginia Tech a 63-50 lead. After that play, Syracuse outscored Virginia Tech 22-7 to end the game, with Michael Gbinije scoring seven points in that stretch. Gbinije, who has struggled from the free throw line all season (46.7%), hit both shots from the line to tie the game at 70 with 19 seconds left. After Trevor Cooney baited Tech into a turnover on the ensuing inbound, Gbinije hit a floater to give SU a two point lead, leaving just 0.1 seconds on the clock. At 15-7, with one of the hardest stretches of games in the country approaching, Syracuse needs to finish strong to go dancing this March, but the Orange will live to fight another day after Gbinije’s shot.[Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician]last_img read more

Exxon Mobil withdraws application to approve 25billion BC LNG project

first_imgCompanies in this story: (TSX:IMO)The Canadian Press CALGARY — The B.C. government says Exxon Mobil Corp. has withdrawn its environmental assessment application for a $25-billion LNG export facility it proposed in 2015.The apparent shelving of the project is a blow to the West Coast liquefied natural gas export industry which at one time featured about 20 proposals, but has resulted in only one firm commitment to build.The withdrawal came in a one-sentence update on the website of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. Exxon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The project had been proposed by Exxon and its Canadian partner, Imperial Oil Ltd., for Tuck Inlet in the Prince Rupert area on B.C.’s north coast.Earlier this year, Calgary-based Imperial took a writedown of $289 million on its northern B.C. Horn River shale gas development, a 50-50 venture with Exxon that was once expected to become a major supply source for B.C.’s LNG industry.In October, Royal Dutch Shell and its partners announced final investment approval for the $40-billion LNG Canada project, including a gas liquefaction plant in Kitimat on B.C.’s coast and a 670-kilometre gas supply pipeline.last_img read more

Tumbler Ridge offers Museum Foundation 50k to open for the summer

first_imgAccording to the mayor’s motion, it would be at the Foundation’s discretion to choose which of the five days each week the museum would be open. The motion passed after a brief discussion.McPherson’s motion also included that the issue of what to do about the Museum FOundation’s funding woes be brought forth to a committee meeting with the intention of drafting a referendum question. “This will take us through the summer, until we get this hopefully taken to a referendum — find out what the people of Tumbler Ridge want,” said McPherson. TUMBLER RIDGE, B.C. — The District of Tumbler Ridge is offering a $50,000 grant to the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation so that it can reopen its doors for the summer tourist season, after the museum closed its doors at the end of March. The Museum Foundation was unsuccessful in its application for a $200,000 grant from the District earlier this year, and announced shortly thereafter that it was closing its doors and laying off staff.Tumbler Ridge mayor Don McPherson made the funding motion at the District council meeting on Monday evening so that the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery could open five days a week from June 1st to October 1st. McPherson said that he came up with the $50,000 amount from looking at the Foundation’s budget for the year and tallying up staffing and operating costs. last_img read more

India produces 874 mt crude steel in February Worldsteel

first_imgNew Delhi: The country’s crude steel output in February grew 2.3 per cent to 8.74 million tonne (MT) from 8.54 MT in the year-ago month, according to global steel body World Steel Association (worldsteel). The crude steel production for the 64 countries reporting to the worldsteel was 137.27 MT in February, a 4.1 per cent increase compared to 131.92 MT in February 2018, the association said in its latest report. During the month, China produced 70.98 MT crude steel as against 65.02 MT, a jump of 9.2 per cent during same month a year ago. “India produced 8.738 MT of crude steel in February 2019, up 2.3 per cent over February 2018. Japan produced 7.7.43 MT of crude steel in February 2019, down 6.6 per cent on February 2018. South Korea’s crude steel production stood at 5.471 MT, up 1.1 per cent on February 2018,” worldsteel said. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalThe US produced 6.9 MT of crude steel, a rise of 4.6 per cent as compared with February 2018, it said. In the EU, Italy produced 2 MT, France produced 1.2 MT, and Spain produced 1.1 MT of crude steel in February. While Ukraine and Brazil produced 1.7 MT and 2.7 MT, respectively, in February, Turkey’s crude steel production during the said month was at 2.6 MT. The worldsteel is one of the largest and most dynamic industry associations in the world, with members in every major steel-producing country. It represents steel producers including 9 of the world’s 10 largest steel companies, national and regional steel industry associations, and steel research institutes. Its members represent around 85 per cent of global steel production.last_img read more