Obama Proposes Network Infrastructure Upgrades as Economic Stimulus

President-Elect Barack Obama, recently put a new video on Change.gov, the official Web site of the office of the President-Elect. In the video, Obama is seated in the office of the President-Elect, sitting in the chair of the President-Elect in front of the desk of the President-Elect. And if I had to guess, he’s probably reading prepared notes from the teleprompter of the President-Elect into the YouTube camera of the President-Elect.

These YouTube videos aspire to function much like an online, 21st century version of the FDR’s “Fireside Chats.” Coincidentally – or perhaps not – Roosevelt’s first Fireside chat, broadcast in 1933, was entitled, On the Bank Crisis. This was also the subject of Obama’s broadcast. And like FDR, Obama is proposing a federal employment program much like Roosevelt’s New Deal.

During the New Deal, the Civilian Conversation Corps, or CCC, was a work-relief program designed to keep people employed with a semi-steady paycheck. One of the main ways that the CCC employed young Americans was by putting them to work solving the environmental problems of that era – which mainly involved flood prevention, soil erosion prevention, wildland fire suppression, reforestation, et al. You can go to Wikipedia for the full details.

Similarly, Obama’s plan, (or the sketches of it outlined in the short YouTube video), calls for increased energy efficiency in national infrastructure. Obama didn’t mention it specifically, but it’s not a far guess to think that part of this process will be “greening” Federal IT – and that usually means server consolidation (perhaps aided with WAN Optimization) and virtualization – to do more with less of a power draw – as well as putting the network to new uses, such as teleconferencing instead of spending money on airfare. Both of these will require network monitoring and adept management.

What Obama did specifically mention:

“It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption.”

Hmm. Sounds familiar. Sounds like something we’d say. (Mr. President-Elect, are you subscribed to our RSS feed?)

The CCC, and similar program WPA, also focused on building and improving the infrastructure of the country – broadband improvements, of course, are improving digital infrastructure. (Of note – American broadband improvements must be done on American soil, and can therefore be almost “outsource-proof.”)

Also of interest was Obama’s pledge that:

“In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.”

We at NetQoS have a little bit of familiarity with how difficult medical networking needs can be. In Volume 3 of Performance Edge Journal, we published a case study of OSF Healthcare, which is a network of multiple acute care, long-term care, and college of nursing facilities and also a primary care physician network.

One of the applications that OSF wanted to implement included Picture Archival and Communications System (PACS) – in order to send and manage very large cardiac images. The application had very slow response times, and you know, when something’s wrong with your ticker, time’s of the essence.

Anyway, NetQoS considers this one of our big success stories. Through SuperAgent, they found that the delay was caused by excessive server response times, and using ReporterAnalyzer, they were able to figure out that some cardiac images were being sent to different sites across the WAN and not stored locally, slowing down retrieval times considerably, taking up large amounts of bandwidth unnecessarily.

Whether or not Obama’s plan will actually work, at least he seems to be aware of the real need for network performance in the healthcare industry.

At the risk of waxing political; Obama talking about technology policy means that the next four years (at least) will be interesting times for geeks. Under the Clinton and Bush administrations, discussions of what should be done about networking issues were mostly confined to – well, to blogs like this. (And even then, it was mostly confined to Slashdot). But, whether or not you agree with him, Obama seems to be using the power of his office – or of his future office – to call attention to the problems that up to now, only us techies were paying attention to.

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