Status Report

NASA Blog: Technology Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere: A Network That Doesn’t Depend on a Single Power Cord

By SpaceRef Editor
August 30, 2008
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Linda Cureton

This week, I am in Chicago attending the NASA Integrated Services Network (NISN) Forum. Amid discussions of bandwidth, jitter, reliability, and availability, I thought about the staff meeting I had earlier this week. My ops guy Joe was there. He was smiling. As you know, ops people never smile. Something has crashed, is about to crash, or might crash … always. So, being worried about his mental health, I asked him why he was smiling. He said things were going very well and he was happy.

I was cruising with my husband and my family. I do like to cruise. When I went on my first cruise almost 10 years ago, I liked the isolation. No news, new email, nothing. But, here lately my favorite cruise line implemented a wireless network on board. Ooh, access to everything, even in the middle of an ocean. So, last year, I checked my email, misguided soul that I am. I had an email from my boss. He was on a rant about the email issues du jour. I replied back, “Ed, I’m sorry about the problems, but I can’t do much as I am somewhere in the middle of the Caribbean. I have absolutely no clue where.” Well, Ed thought that was funny. I’ll put aside any observations of his wry sense of humor, but he was tickled that I was reading email at some unknown latitude and longitude. It really wasn’t funny.

I am pictured here on my last cruise.

My anniversary in fact; 16 wonderful years with a retired ops guy. I am in St. Thomas and am downright giddy because both my blackberry AND cell phone worked!!! At last, I am the connected CIO again. Life was good. What a great vacation. I’ve convinced myself that I’m not really obsessed. I’m used to being connected – all the time, anywhere I go, globally. And as the NASA Goddard CIO, and in the backdrop of this NISN Forum, we are connected anywhere in the solar system or even the universe.

I heard a talk at the Department of Energy CIO Conference from one of my predecessors — Linda Wilbanks, now the CIO of National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). In her talk, IT Toys, she discussed the outcomes of always connected employees. They are constantly juggling, have no downtime, and are in constant communication. This drives us to become dangerous drivers who text while driving and desperate and overworked people always in search of communication signals. Some may argue that being always connected is not a healthy thing, but as service providers, we need to understand that consumers and customers have the expectation of being always connected. Anywhere, anytime.

This week, I heard about no jitter, no packet drops, good throughput, high availability – oh, and low cost and highly secure. No wonder Joe never smiles. He knows what we do is important – businesses, customers, consumers, and CIOs expect it and lives depend on it.

SpaceRef staff editor.