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Posted By David Marble, Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We have been having interesting discussions recently about the top reasons for migrating to cloud services.  Traditional thinking, including my own, predicted that the top reason would be cost.  However, consensus from most industry surveys are concluding that AGILITY is the number one driver behind cloud migrations and it leads the pack of other drivers such as cost, innovation and risk mitigation by a fair margin.  Being someone who needs to be right, I am interested to see if I can argue that being agile is a cost metric in sheep’s clothing.


As we look at costs, current models show that cloud services are relatively equivalent to asset based capital purchases if you look at the cloud operating service cost versus a hardware purchase of say, a server or storage device.  It is only when you look at what we historically have called “soft dollars” that cloud migrations become compelling.  I maintain that AGILITY fits that soft dollar category.  We call it something different than cost because it is much harder to quantify.  Each enterprise will have a different perspective on the value of agility and hence a different translation into dollars.    For example, agility is at the core of disaster recovery planning.  We have many members’ IT staffs who are measured by the speed at which they can recover from disasters.  That recovery time metric has very different value in different departments of government, education and healthcare. While I believe there may be aspects of agility that are intangible, I do think we should take a shot at the quantification, especially when justifying projects to the end user communities and the financial organization.  I can just imagine the CFO’s reaction to the CIO who says, “Trust me, we will be more agile if we move to the cloud.”


Being agile in the context of cloud services affords the IT organization to be more responsive to end user needs.  In Higher Ed, that might mean being able to spin up servers for researchers on a moment’s notice or deploying and maintaining desktops in a more efficient and rapid fashion or easily supporting BYOD.  In Healthcare, it might mean the ability to rapidly conform to dynamic regulatory and application environments for Electronic Medical Records or consistent and rapid deployment of desktops for visiting or remote doctors.  Each of these advantages can be quantified in workload dollar costs.  While I get that there is an intangible quality to agility like the a bolstering of IT’s reputation, I come back to the fact that agility saves money.  Being agile should be one of the basic tenants of any IT organization and the best Enterprise will use that agility to strategic advantage.  Being able to manage more, faster with less is the essence of agility and that’s the bottom line….pun intended. 

Tags:  Technology 

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Energized by the Students of RI

Posted By David Marble, Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Last week I had the privilege of being invited to speak in a couple classrooms to students who are working in technology disciplines.  I spent time at Coventry and Chariho’s Technical Centers talking about OSHEAN, the latest trends in IT and networking as well as the diversity of career paths they could envision.  It is always a time for me to not only reflect on my own career but also to project the world that awaits these students.  I asked them to think about combining passions for technology with other personal pursuits/interests and showed them this video of the Jefferson Project at RPI as an example  It’s a time when these students are thinking about next steps and I can imagine they are inundated with information overload.  I am an optimist by nature and try to convey the vision a dynamic future, for the students who embrace the challenge, filled with never ending learning and excitement. 


I also attended the RIDE Technology Conference on Saturday and again was thrilled to be able to talk to the teachers and students who are weaving technology into their learning environments.  The best part of the conference for me yet again was listening to the students.  It was fun and inspiring to talk with the students from Tiverton High who are developing an electric car  I was amazed at the level of technology depth in the Robotics program at North Kingstown High after speaking with the lead software coder and the rest of the team demonstrating their robotic car project.  Good luck to NKHS as they head to regional competitions later this year.  The conference theme centered on technology as an enabler to personalized learning and the overall blended learning initiative.  I have previously stated in this blog that I am an unreserved fan.  While and I do realize the requirement for analytics and outcome metrics to prove program efficacy, sometimes you just know when something is working.  The students tell you and not necessarily with words but with passion.  This is the third year for the conference and for all the naysayers who thought no one would take their Saturday for this, the Convention Center was packed at 8:00am!  RI should be proud of our advancements in digital learning.


I can never really know what students get from me when we talk.  Did they listen to the old guy?  Did they relate?  Are they inspired?  Who knows but I do know what I get from them; ENERGY!

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Blended Learning in IT Context

Posted By David Marble, Thursday, October 2, 2014

For years I have witnessed the work of IT innovators forging ahead with the development of bold new approaches in communications technology, automation or simplification of task, data management, etc…  These creators of our industry as we know it today are true pioneers and have delivered extraordinary tools at an unprecedented pace.  However, it never ceases to amaze how many times this drive to innovate leaves behind those who the innovation is meant to help.  The development cycle in IT can often ignore the normal front-end work of product requirements research within the base of those who would be the actual users.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in education technology.  Countless times we see new tools created which are then delivered to the teachers who are then asked to develop the pedagogy to support it.  “We must use on line tools to adapt to new learning styles!”  Okay but has anyone actually worked with the teachers to develop the practice?  Even if the software developers included teachers in their research, the follow on mapping of the tools into the given pedagogy of a school, classroom and ultimately individual student has been lacking. 

Happily, new programs such as FuseRI at the Highlander Institute ( are emerging in recognition of this issue and are working directly with teachers and students to develop techniques for the proper introduction of on line and digital learning tools into the classroom, all under the banner of Blended Learning.  Blended Learning recognizes that digital technologies for teaching and learning are not the “be all, end all” panacea, especially without teachers who understand and actually contribute to the development of proper use cases.  Blended Learning initiatives create student-centered learning environments that combine on-line tools and resources with face-to-face traditional teaching practice.  The goal of the program is to afford more personalization of an individual student’s learning pace and methodology in recognition of diverse learning styles.  Highlander’s FuseRI Fellowship is intended to develop and teach best practice for Blended Learning across Rhode Island.  This kind of initiative represents an important component to the pace at which RI can address the global sea change in teaching and learning practice.  In speaking with individuals involved in the program, RI actually has a shot at being a leader in this important space.

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SURF’s up!

Posted By David Marble, Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Next week we will be having our annual SURF event at the Tiki Bar at Paddy’s Beach Club on

Misquamicut Beach.  Last year was my first year at the event and I have to say, it was outstanding.  I find it always fun and interesting to get folks out of the work environment like this, especially with family members, where we can just relax and interact without the professional agendas.  I am always happy to learn more about our membership and our partners this way and I hope to see as many of you as possible. 

This year will have a bit of special meaning as it coincides with our 15th year anniversary.  We have been spending some time recently reflecting on how far OSHEAN has come in 15 years and conversations often extend to how far the overall industry has progressed.  Facebook was still 5 years away from being founded when we started and Netflix was still a full 10 years away from streaming video.  Today Facebook has 1.3 billion subscribers and Netflix represents 60% of University Internet WAN traffic!  This is truly an amazing industry to be part of.

So, bring the kids and join us for a fun afternoon in the RI sun!

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OSHEAN Anniversary

Posted By David Marble, Friday, July 25, 2014

Next month, OSHEAN will celebrate its 15th  anniversary.  While my tenure here has  been a short one so far, I  have a natural interest in using milestones like this as an opportunity for reflection.  To that end, I located the original founding document for OSHEAN, emblazoned with the title, “OSHEAN Consortium Agreement for Telecommunications/Network Services”. 

This agreement was signed on August 20, 1999.  The original parties involved with the agreement included the Commissioner for Higher Ed, Brown University, URI and RINET (K12s and Library Network).  While these were the official signatories, the document goes on to say that contributors to the planning and overall effort included CCRI, RIC, RIDE, RI State Department of Administration, the Naval Underwater Warfare Center and the RI EDC.

What I found most interesting in reviewing the document was how true to the original mission our efforts have stayed.  It states that “OSHEAN will be the catalyst for the creation of a telecommunication infrastructure that will meet the needs of RI for the 21st century.”  I’m proud to say we and our member organizations have achieved this ambitious objective and find new ways to do so on a daily basis. The following are three of the original objectives:

  • Improve the state’s information infrastructure by creating an aggregation point where networks in use today can share resources and gain access to high performance networks;

  • Provide greater access to a wide range of information services in the areas of health care, education, training, government and economic development;

  • Reduce the cost of government services by utilizing advanced telecommunication and information technologies to increase productivity and efficiency of operations.

500+ fiber miles and more than 125 Community Anchor Institutions later, I am certainly impressed with the results – and extremely proud that our state and the founding members had the vision for OSHEAN that they did. 

Anniversaries are a time to celebrate achievements and look to the future, and we will have more to say on this subject in August.  I welcome our members to join us in celebrating this milestone, and as far as the future is concerned, I’ll leave you with this simple thought: We are not done!

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