Drones on a wire, the Aussies push Cloud hard, NIST, and DIA releases TaaS RFI giving suppliers three days to respond after a briefing…

Ian Apperley

One of the problems with drones is the reliance on their need to be frequently charged. While some research is being done on solar powered drones, that fly at very high levels, down at street level most drones have a flight time of between ten and twenty minutes. So what to do? Invent drones that can land on power lines for recharging before they take off again on their flight paths.

MIT is working on a drone that can land on power lines and use the magnetic field to recharge the “birds”.

“They spent hours researching eagles’ and pigeons’ abilities to stall – a complex phenomenon that involves flaring their wings, angling their bodies, maintaining high velocity, and accurately judging the trajectory needed to perch.” - Source

In a few years we could see robotic birds perching on the power lines outside our houses and places of work. Interestingly, the research may lead to future aircraft that don’t require miles of runway to take off and land.

“Creating a computer model to execute a stall manoeuvre has typically been computationally difficult. As described in a 2010 MIT News article, the angles needed to pull it off result in airflow over the wings that is difficult to predict, which is why engineers have designed conventional planes to land the way they do — the long descent, the gradual braking, and the mile-long runway.”

Back in Cloud land; The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is setting up three new working groups which will look at a range of things including detailing high-priority tasks necessary for further government uptake of Cloud. NIST has been the default Cloud standard creators for several years.

The full road map is here and it looks at multiple areas that cover security, federated Clouds, unique Government requirements, Cloud service metrics, high-quality SLA’s and clear & consistent categorised Cloud services. It’s worth reading if you follow Government Cloud development.

Across the Tasman the Australian Government is pushing Cloud hard, not just at a Government level, but also at a business level. Their research has found that small businesses who adopt Cloud services are like to see a 106% increase in revenue and that wider Cloud adoption could see a plus $3B boost to the economy.

The Aussies have taken the step of releasing guidelines for business (which I haven’t read) that look at Cloud myths, questions to ask a Cloud provider, privacy, and legal tips. Regardless of content it is clear that the Australian Government is taking a guidance role as opposed to mandating services.

Back in New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment have released a very strange request for information entitled “Telecommunications as a Service.” You can find it on GETS, you’ll need to register.

They are looking for information on:

  • Core networks (data and voice)
  • Mobile
  • Telecommunications applications (including enterprise voice, video and audio conferencing, and unified communications)
  • Contact centres
  • Telecommunications management and professional services
  • Managed security

This has been lurking about for well over a year now, and you have to wonder why it’s gone out now, and what the point of it actually is. Again, it kind of looks a little bit disorganised, with the supplier briefing taking place on the 3rd of July and the RFI closing on the 7th of July… Giving suppliers about three business days to actually respond. Seriously?

TaaS is the incorrect term for this as well, it will be confusing a few suppliers I would have thought, TaaS actually stands for “Testing as a Service” not Telecommunications as a Service. In fact, a Google search will reveal that Telecommunications as a Service is not actually a thing.

All of the service dot points they are looking for above, are already represented by some other Common Capability that exists today. Primarily this is One.Govt, provided by Dimension Data, but managed security can be a feature of at least two other services. Professional services can fall under multiple areas.

So why are we spending money on this initiative? On the face of it, all services are already provided under existing agreements, TaaS isn’t actually a thing, and giving suppliers three days to respond after a briefing is just madness. Do they already have a solution in mind?

Most likely affected is One.Govt who could probably argue that this is a tender for work that they already have a mandated, exclusive contract that stretches out for years to come (an issue in itself, in my opinion), so what faction in which of DIA or MBIE is sponsoring this and why? I have to say, in my opinion, it looks like the ICT architecture by lawyer and commercial consultant, yet again, probably in an attempt to get around the One.Govt contract and save more money. It’s always about the money people, never about the actual function of ICT, which is to power the business.

Frankly, where is the value proposition in this for an agency? Why are we bothering with this when the market is very dynamic and will sort itself out? Why is there no focus on the application layer that goes on top of this, which is where the business value actually is? For example, working from home, working remotely, mobile applications for citizens & agency staff, the Internet of Things, and dozens of other business driven ICT supported initiatives.

Why is it that DIA does some Common Capabilities so well, and others are just… lack luster, late, and a little bit worthless? Can we look at the ones that are awesome against the ones that are not and then reset the clock and go again?

Really, what suppliers should do, is just not turn up.

 

But enough moaning.

Ian Apperley is the director at Isis Group and blogs at Whatisitwellington

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