The Evolving IT Professional 

By Chris Crouse, CIO

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As a CIO I am witness to new developments and rapid changes in today’s tech industry on a near daily basis. Not only is it essential to find the right IT Professionals with the necessary core technical skills, plus specialized experience in the latest & greatest technology shifts – such as virtual computing, big data management, and cloud security – but it’s equally important to find individuals who have developed skills beyond their area of focus, skills that will complement any business overall.

• Ability To Communicate
More than ever IT has become a “Team Sport.” As IT Professionals we need to be able to contribute collaboratively in team environments with our peers. The industry today can require multiple skill sets to complete a project. The ability to communicate well with colleagues of different skill levels, background and experience is a must.

• Know Your Industry
IT is now a part of every major industry. Cultivation of core and foundational tech skills are important, and having focused skills in the industry you support is key. Whether understanding the customer focus and deliverables, or corporate operations, you should have experience and firsthand knowledge of your industry.


• Cybersecurity Awareness
Cybersecurity has become one of the most focused aspects of day-to-day IT operations. No matter what your background or IT focus you must know the core aspects of cybersecurity and how to apply those to your specialty.

Today’s IT careers are more dynamic than ever. You need to be a “jack of all trades and master of some.” No matter your particular specialty, cultivating broader skills can make you a greater asset to any organization.

A Word From The New CTO

By Mars Mariano, CTO

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Hi! I’m Mars Mariano – your new Chief Technology Officer. I’m truly looking forward to meeting each of you. You’ll find me (hopefully) useful, friendly, energetic and collaborative. The bottom line of my message to you is that I’m here to support you, and just as importantly your customers and their missions. I represent the front door to Global CI reach back!

The Global CI CTO role, as defined, is just as the industry desires it to be – looking and working forward, and even ahead of the game, with you and our customers, breaking through with innovations and practical know-how supporting a federal environment and contractor workforce in transformation.

My 25+ years as a hands-on technologist and 15+ years as a federal industry CTO intercept you and me in this modern era of federal transformation. Technology continues to advance at escape speeds, relative budgets decline ahead of contract adjustment, and the competition to provide innovative services to citizens has never been fiercer.


I came to work with you at Global CI because our culture has discriminately prepared us to answer the needs of a federal government in transformation. Ninety percent of Global CI employees are cleared to the Public Trust. Ninety percent of our employees possess 7+ years of industry experience, and 70% of our employees are working at the most senior staffing categories of their federal contracts. We directly support some 140,000+ federal and contractor personnel who directly provide federal services to citizens. Rhetorically and literally, what group is better positioned to support the federal mission’s transformation needs?
 
But we’re not waiting, we’re listening. And we’re already beginning to provide the partners and technology portfolio both clients and employees will leverage during this modern era of transformation. By the time you read this newsletter, you will find that Global CI has made investments in, and is now providing new federal capabilities in:
• Digital Voice as a Service, or as an Infrastructure
• Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDI)
• ​Cloud Computing and Brokerage
• Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
• Software as a Service (SaaS)
• Amazon Web Services (AWS)
• Outreach as a Service (OaaS)
We are continuing to forge the corporate relations and advanced architectures that will be leveraged in transforming to the modern stack. These include big data architectures, data lake technologies and governances, and fraud and abuse platforms, just to name a few.
 
Not all of our industry involvement will be hardware, software, or architecture. Some of the heavy lift will leverage social technologies. And while we’ll steadily invest in mobile apps, we will also sponsor contemporary work modes such as crowdsourcing and hackathons. Crowdsourcing is a process of extending social media channels to solicit ideas and problems, and then letting a natural selection from a wider net surface the best ideas. Hackathons are social gatherings similar to yesteryear’s barn raisings – many people coming together to innovate on a problem theme. At this writing, Global CI has joined HackUMBC which hosts local area hackathons. We’ve been invited to review UMBC’s (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) March 4/5 hackathon results. Look for hackathons and crowdsourcing to become frequent work modes for Global CI. We’ll embrace and lead these projects, not because they’re ‘cool’ but because they continue to prove to be among the most productive ways to solve today’s – and tomorrow’s – problems. (Look for me to engage your ideas and solicit your support for such activities.)

So, let me please wrap this initial message:

I look forward to collaborating with you in the challenges of this modern era.
• Global CI has made investments and added services to our portfolio to support a government in transformation.

I’m here for you, so please feel free to call me 410.707.9564 or email me for any problem you or your customer might have.

​Intercept The Technology Trajectory 

By Mike Ziman, CEO

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You have successfully completed an IT project for your client. Did you intercept their future IT trajectory and have a positive impact on it? Failure to positively impact your clients’ technological trajectory is tantamount to holding them back and costing them precious time and budget. 
 
Taking a quick look into the “Internet of Everything” we can rapidly observe the speed at which change and obsolescence can turn a successful IT project using the same or similar technology stack and techniques that the client had before, and will cause the client to lose ground to their users/customers/competitors’ adaptation to technology. Additionally, when they eventually play catchup they will incur repetitive costs and development time that could have been avoided.

In the federal arena agencies are working with tighter budgets and increased demand for better and more secure services. Federal agencies are very good at understanding and defining their mission. They excel at understanding the specific services they are to deliver. They have built systems and contracted with companies to build systems in the last 50+ years. The incremental upgrades that have been successfully implemented decade over decade have paid off in meeting the challenge.  Of course there are exceptions but for the significant part they have done an incredible job. It does not have to be the job of the agencies to house computer systems, run call centers, support infrastructure, hire IT staff and even technical development. Part of their job is to make sure that those of us who provide these services comply with their mission and commitment to their customers, and this is an area of our expertise.


Agencies are in a difficult spot as they try to extricate themselves out of legacy environments. I believe it is a mistake to move away from legacy and into another in-house new technology stack without first considering what the next environments will look like. While they think they are moving forward they should also see they are moving sideways. The needs for in-house training, systems support, staffing and so on remain exactly the same.
 
Perhaps what they should consider is a strategy that uses the best technologies and infrastructure where it is already succeeding and should continue to advance while ensuring meeting the mission of the agency. For example, using Cloud services, XaaS (anything or everything as a service) where and when appropriate. These services must meet the same scrutiny for security, delivery, and continuity as any in-house system. If the agency CIOs understand the technology trajectory that is already happening (and many do) they can get their strategy to intercept the trajectory by contracting to suppliers whose own strategy includes helping their clients intercept the trajectory. This requires true partnership where it is acceptable to have one’s blind spots pointed out for the sake of the mission.
 
The ultimate challenge is culture because as Drucker is credited with saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” The CIO may want to select or have their partners suggest systems that have low risk and strong ROI. Actively move them into a cloud service and then measure the success or learn from the challenges that emerge. As the technology trajectory moves quickly forward, failure to start moving towards an intercept creates greater risk and cost that may not keep pace with tightening budgets. I have never read a single agency mission that is about building complex IT systems and infrastructure and all the support mechanisms and staff required to support it. However, there are many companies large and small who dedicate their entire existence to just this.

The old Grateful Dead song The Other One has a line in it that goes, “The bus came by and I got on, that’s when it all began.”  Philosophically we need to get on the bus. The culture will change and we can intercept the technology trajectory.

​An Approach To Get Off Of Legacy Dependence  

By Mike Ziman, CEO

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The number one emotion I usually sense when discussing how to move large complex systems from long-running mainframe legacy systems into more efficient and less expensive environments, is fear. 

The fear is not so much about complacency or change but it seems to be more about the unknown. It is a reasonable fear if you think about trying to gather the business functions by analyzing millions of lines of code. A government agency may have 40+ years of undocumented code and the institutional knowledge is no longer available. The question arises, “How can we document all of the functions of the code?” It is not about the code. It is about the business functions. If it was about the code then we would look at how to improve the code. That is not the task. The task is how the agency meets its mission more effectively and with a focus on cost reduction.

Most everyone (except those with a revenue stream to protect) agrees there are better infrastructure and systems development capabilities in 21st century technology than that of the last century. The agency has the answers and power to make the change within their grasp. As always, “it’s all about the data.” The data stored within the agency is the most powerful part of any agency, not only for delivering mission services but also to transform into a more highly productive and cost-effective entity.


How does the data tell us the business functions necessary to transform the system? All of the automated business functions access data and then perform their task/functions to meet the agency mission. Watch the data  Document all of the access points. Answer the: Who, What When and Where (the How is what we are replacing) is taking place for all data. Sounds overwhelming? There are tools like SPLUNK® Enterprise that perform this very task. The business functional analysis will still have to be done but at least a map generated by data usage will tell you what is going on today. I would not be surprised to find that much of the programming is not doing what was thought, and is actually quite ineffective. Additionally, one may find many inaccuracies within some datasets.
 
What else can be transformed through this discovery? Remember, it’s all about the data. Older legacy systems were built and functionality added over the years often creating new datasets and eventually creating a stovepipe environment. It would not be unusual if the data were not normalized and redundancy occurred or if some data were abandoned in use but not in storage. The logging of the data usage will also allow for normalization and should generate interest in creating a data lake or enterprise data warehouse. Tools like Hadoop® and the use of cloud structures can maintain speed to access. This will also create more efficiency and reduce costs. Additionally, the data in various stovepipes lends itself to be less secure because of the redundant and numerous pipes into the data and the system.

The large complex systems of the 20th century performed amazing services and many still do. However, there are better and less expensive alternatives today. To alleviate the fear of converting legacy code, focus on the data not the code because the goal is to truly transform and throw that old code away.

10 Appointments to Make Now for 2016

By Mike Ziman, CEO

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You have many talents, but staying on top of your doctors’ visits and financial planning may not be one of them. We get it: You’re busy. Still, taking care of crucial appointments can actually save you time now and avoid a crisis later. Check these items off your to-do list and make 2016 your healthiest, most productive year yet. 

Tips from Men’s Health® magazine (and these work for women, too!).
 
1. STOP DODGING THE DENTIST
Almost half of people go more than a year without getting their teeth cleaned, and adults are especially good at avoiding the dentist, says Men’s Health dentistry advisor Mark Wolff, D.D.S., Ph.D. Why should you bother?

“If you wait too long, a small cavity will grow,” Dr. Wolff says. “Wait longer, and that tooth may become infected, causing swelling and terrible pain. In the end, you may need root canal, crowns, or the worst-case scenario: extraction.” 

But all of that can be avoided if the decay is found early. You should typically see your dentist every 6 months, he says. Don’t have a dentist? Ask your local friends for theirs, Dr. Wolff suggests. Find out if the office is modern and clean and whether the dentist takes the time to talk about preventative care. 
 
2. QUIZ YOUR PARENTS
Your mission for the next time you go home to see your folks: Get a detailed record of the health problems that seem to run in your family. “A family history provides valuable insight into your risk of disease and can be the foundation for advice about how to stay healthy,” says James O’Keefe, M.D., a professor of medicine at University of California, Los Angeles. 


Talk with your immediate family members and grandparents, aunts, and uncles and ask whether they’ve had any of the following: common cancers, like colon, prostate, or lung; cardiovascular disease, including any heart attacks or heart surgery; diabetes; stroke; autoimmune disorders, such as celiac disease; eye conditions, such as glaucoma; a history of addiction or depression; or any other conditions that are genetically linked. Make note of how old each relative was when they were diagnosed with the condition, Dr. O’Keefe says, and how each person is related to you. 

Then take the list to your next physical exam and walk through it with your doctor. It will inform how he cares for you: “If somebody’s father had colon cancer at a young age, we’d start screening earlier than usual, for example,” Dr. O’Keefe says. 
 
3. ASSESS YOUR FITNESS LEVEL
In any journey, you need a starting point. The same goes for getting in shape, says Men’s Health training advisor Mike Boyle, A.T.C. Find your baseline with a body composition test and a functional movement screen (FMS), which identifies any limitations in how your body moves. Unless you fail the FMS miserably, you only need to do it once, Boyle says, but re-evaluate your body comp every month to measure your progress (or lack thereof). “Many people see exercise as an excuse to eat more,” Boyle says. Getting your body composition checked on a regular basis won’t let you get away with that. You can take both tests at most gyms.  Call your local gym to see if it offers them.
 
The big thing is to keep (start) moving regularly.  Everyone knows the benefits regular exercise provides to muscles, skeleton, lowering cholesterol, heart and brain.  Remember it is also good for a general sense of well-being, mood, attitude, relationships, and stress reduction.
 
4. CONTACT AN OLD FRIEND
You probably have a close college friend who you’ve barely spoken to since graduation. Plan a guy’s trip if you can, or if you can’t, give him a call. Shooting the breeze with an old pal is always fun, but catching up can be a good way to take stock of your life, too, says Geoffrey Greif, Ph.D., author of Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships. “It forces you to bring your old friend up to date on what you’ve been doing with your life,” Greif says. Laying it all out in the open may even motivate you to change course, he says. Sure, it can be weird to talk to another dude about anything more than sports and jokes—so start with that, Greif says. Then ask what’s been going on since you last talked. 

5. GET YOUR MOLES CHECKED
Your physician may give you a skin cancer exam at your next checkup—or s/he may not. “It’s up to any general doc,” Dr. O’Keefe says. So to be safe, get a dermatologist’s input, says Men’s Health dermatology advisor Adnan Nasir, M.D., Ph.D. “Based on his evaluation, you can be told whether you need regular dermatology checkups or can see your primary care doctor for your skin care with a referral only as needed,” Dr. Nasir says. 

Not convinced you need to squeeze a skin cancer exam into your busy schedule? Do it for your family. “I see many patients whose families rue the man in their lives for not getting a checkup early enough for it to be preventive,” says Dr. Nasir.

If you don’t already have a dermatologist, ask your primary care physician whom s/he recommends, Dr. Nasir says. You can also check the American Academy of Dermatology. Or follow this advice on How to See a Dermatologist Sooner.
 
6. SEE YOUR DOCTOR
If you’re a healthy person in your 30s, your doc may not need to see you every single year, says Dr. O’Keefe. But if you have no clue when you’re due for your next checkup, that’s the sure sign it’s time to give him a call, he says. And if you don’t have a primary care physician, get on that, stat. “Your doctor will be better able to treat you when you’re sick if he’s seen you when you’re well,” says Dr. O’Keefe. At your exam, he’ll screen you for the majors, including heart disease, prostate cancer, lung disease, and diabetes—all things that are best caught early. Find an available primary care physician easily by booking online through services like ZocDoc
 
7. GET YOUR AFFAIRS IN ORDER
No one likes to think about death, especially not their own—and especially not before they’re well into their 70s. But if you don’t record your wishes, it can cause a lot of pain and confusion for your family if the worst happens. “By the time someone is in their 30s, they should have a will, medical directives, and power-of-attorney documents filled out,” says Ryan Law, Certified Financial Planner and Director of the Center for Economic Education at the University of Missouri. “These are basic estate-planning documents that everyone needs, regardless of marital status or whether you have dependents.” 

8. THANK YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER
It’s easy to get a little too comfortable in a long-term relationship. Show your partner you still notice all the little things s/he does for you, says Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a Manhattan-based marriage therapist. Sit down and write out the top five most-meaningful things s/he did for you in 2015, he says. You don’t have to be all deep and philosophical: Maybe s/he didn’t shame you when you lost $1,000 on a Super Bowl bet, or perhaps s/he’s awesome at something really intimate. Then give them the note to keep. Being grateful will not only make them feel warm and fuzzy, but it’ll make you happier, too, Hokemeyer says. 
 
9. ANALYZE YOUR BUDGET
Spend a Saturday tidying up your finances, suggests Scott Kahan, a financial planner at Financial Asset Management Corp. in New York. 

Look back over your last 12 months of spending and see where your money went so you can build a budget for 2016, Kahan says. An online program such as Mint or Yodlee will make tracking your expenses a cinch. Identify some ways you can cut back: If you see a lot of ATM withdrawals, stop hitting up the machine, he says. It’s often the biggest hole in a budget because it’s hard to track. Use your debit card instead so you can easily see where your money is spent.

Then write down your short- and long-term goals, Kahan suggests. For example, plan what vacation you want to take and how much it will cost. Build that amount into your budget and start saving for your trip. Review your budget every month to make sure you’re on track.

10. LEND A HAND
If you haven’t volunteered since you set out to pad your college résumé, consider getting back at it. Helping someone else is actually in your best interest: When you volunteer, your brain produces a surge of feel-good chemicals (serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine) that gives you the warm fuzzies and boosts immunity to stave off illness, research has found. Don’t know where to start? Organizations like New York Cares and the United Way list volunteering opportunities online.
 
Happy Holidays & Best Wishes for a Healthy, Productive New Year!

Thanksgiving

By Mike Ziman, CEO

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Each day I try to be mindful of those things in my life that I have to be thankful for. I take the time during my daily meditations to consider the wonders of this experience. How fortunate I am to have the responsibilities and the awareness to serve them, to focus on the positive things and the challenges known and as of yet unknown that lay ahead.
 
Each year as we approach Thanksgiving it occurs to me that no matter how often I expressed and showed my appreciation to you, it is not enough and here is why: I know you can work at other companies and do a variety of other things but you have chosen to be here. I am flattered and honored that you have made that choice.

Additionally, I am committed to getting successful and important results through our work and actions every day because we truly make the world a better place for all of the individuals that we help. Our clients have missions that benefit millions of people each day. The impacts we make are nothing shy of lifesaving for many of them. In almost all cases these children, women and men will never know us nor will we know them. I am content to know that they live better because of our work.


I know we can improve upon the existing benefit environment and that is what we do each time we pick up a phone, write a line of code, install new equipment and software, present new ideas, lead a project, conduct research, participate in an interview, test a system, assess security, take meeting minutes, seek and find people with specialized skills, train ourselves and others, support one another when challenges seem overwhelming and recognize when one of us has accomplished something and made a positive impact on the world. 
 
Author Joshua J. Marine says, “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”
 
The people in the world around us both near and far, may have agendas that keep them from realizing or outwardly recognizing the good that we do. It is sometimes provoking and distracting to witness the behavior and words of some folks.

There is an ancient Chinese curse that goes, “May you live in interesting times.” We certainly seem to be doing just that. This makes me all the more thankful that through it all you push on and do these amazing things. My respect for you is immense.
 
This short note is to wish you a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving and to say, “Thank You!”

HacXed!

By Chris Crouse, CIO

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It seems that over the last couple of years more than ever, events of “Hacking” and “Identity Theft” are daily breaking news stories. We can almost count on tomorrow’s headline: “ABCXYZ (Big Company Name Here) Hacked, Sensitive Customer Data Stolen!”
 
Take your pick… Blue Cross, Chick-fil-A, Sony, US Postal Service, MCX, Staples, Kmart, Dairy Queen, Home Depot, PF Changs, eBay and Target to name just a few in the past 2-3 years. Not to mention one of the most recent and discernibly largest occurrences in sheer volume and sensitivity of information stolen is the hacking of the Office of Personal Management (OPM) affecting some 21.5 million people.
 
OPM has acknowledged that the data compromised was sensitive personal information including Social Security numbers and other information collected for background checks, not limited to historical addresses and detailed medical, mental and credit history. While we might start to become numb to occurrences of this type of theft, do not underestimate the powerful impact and potential damage these compromises can cause, such as credit fraud, tax fraud and even extortion.

It can be difficult and seemingly near impossible to protect ourselves when our private information is in the hands of another entity or multiple entities. However, we can actually do a great deal to make a difference.


Just using the basic rules of cybersecurity to protect and control our data can provide the greatest payoff:
Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability.
 
• Passwords: Create Strong Ones.
A short common name password is something easily cracked with today’s dictionary hack. The best rule of thumb is to use paraphrasing with a mix of capital letters, lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
 
• Downloads & Links: Be Very Cautious.
When downloading files, running program downloads, and clicking on email links – make sure the information is from a trusted source. Phishing attacks often install programs to steal identity but need some sort of interaction to execute. If you are not sure, scan it first.
 
• Firewall & Anti-Virus: Use Them!
This might seem obvious yet almost pointless at times, but remember that some of the most recent methods of identity theft are the older “tried and true” techniques, and newer firewall and anti-virus programs should protect against these attacks. Make sure you schedule frequent virus scans.

• Backups: Save Your Data.
It is always a good idea to store copies of your files on an external hard drive. When done on a regular basis, you know there is a recent back up of your data just in case an attack should happen. And, remember to run occasional virus scans on your backup device, too.

A Word From The CEO

By Mike Ziman, CEO

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Ah! Spring! This is a welcome season particularly in light of an unusually difficult winter experienced by those of us in the mid-Atlantic and northeast parts of the U.S. The earth slowly smiles through the flowers rising, and gives us a familiar chuckle by returning birdsongs. We welcome our world as it once again beautifully transforms. 

Businesses often transform when influenced by external realities such as the economy, client practices, and labor market and internally with new ideas, strategies and the desire to influence our own future. Global CI is no exception.  We have been successful for over 22 years because like the surfer keeping balance we adjust to the changing fluidity that surrounds us.  To that end we are transforming into a HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) company. The HUBZone certification is an SBA (Small Business Administration) designation.

We have moved our Fredericksburg, VA office a few miles into a Fredericksburg HUBZone designated area. We have hired many people who reside in a HUBZone. We have filed for the certification with the SBA and expect to receive our HUBZone certification by September. The Federal government has goals for each federal agency to reach for HUBZone certified companies. We are meeting with federal agencies now and helping them to understand how they can use certain government rules to access our subject matter expertise in Health IT, Business Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, Organization Outreach and Human Capital Management.


By growing our company under the SBA HUBZone requirements we are helping the community and individuals in very profound ways. One new hire, Ray, from a HUBZone joined us in December. He is being trained and supporting our IT infrastructure in Virginia and Maryland. When asked what he wanted for the holidays he said, “I got it. I have a job.” More on community impacts in future newsletters.

Through March and into April we currently have a backlog of work that should see Global CI grow by 25% so far in 2015. This is due to the exceptional employees of Global CI. Due to our technical staff, account management, technical recruitment, HR and business management departments, Global CI enjoys a high value relationship with our customers. In a January 2015 third-party customer survey, Global CI scored a 94% favorable overall rating and even more exceptional scores in Reliability, Order Accuracy (meeting the goals of the work), Business Relations, and Customer Support. There is always room for improvement and we are focusing now on that. There is an old business adage I learned long ago – “You don’t have to be sick to get better.”

I would like for all of you to grow, bloom and enjoy life and continue to do so long after Spring has passed. You have all the time in the world; don’t waste a minute of it.