To assist the US government in managing computing systems use during crisis times, it is important to engage smaller contracting organizations that are qualified to provide consultancy in designing and optimizing local IT infrastructures. In this proposal, the case of Virtual International, a small organization that acquires leadership market positions through government contracting is considered based on the emerging needs in crisis management and consultancy. The focus is made on the corporate preferences in terms of setting guidelines, but is somewhat altered with the real people needs those would expect soon. The following subsections provide more details related to the overall problem expected to be analyzed, the IT solutions proposed, and the preliminary vision of the implementation plan.
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Due to the recent storms and pandemics effects, FEMA and the Government Crisis Management System are in need of receiving support from a smaller organization that helps to deal with national emergencies. However, given the differences in emergency response strategies across the states, it is important to ensure that the contractor can efficiently collaborate with the main organization using virtualization and cloud computing techniques. To ensure that these requirements are met, it is considered to contract Virtual International to partner with the National Crisis Agency (NCA) for managing computing resources on-site and remotely.
It is expected that Virtual International will manage related NCA operations in the states of Florida and Texas while having the main computing datacenter located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. The project is not expected to go above the scope of managing resources in other locations given the organizational size and capabilities. Hence, the virtual and onsite computing resource management for two fully functional sites using both classified and unclassified domains is further explored to support national efforts in preventing or dealing with national emergencies.
Given that Virtual International is expected to manage the computing environment in disaster prevention or recovery scenarios, the focus on relevant IT communication and data security infrastructure solutions is made. Furthermore, it is expected that the contracting organization has enough trained staff to support activities of two NCA locations, in line with specifications provided by the main datacenter. Finally, it is required to have a pool of qualified datacenter specialists and data scientists to manage the workflow of geospatial data across customers and agents. Overall, it results in the need of setting up an onsite IT infrastructure to support a full staff of NCA employees, further integrating one with local servers using the most recent approaches in virtualization technology.
The proposed implementation plan for establishing a new entity with computing resources for the case of NCA assumes several consecutive phases outlined below, specifying particular reasons for carrying out the project in a particular manner:
- Phase 1: Organizational Sensing. At this stage, Virtual International should apply both quantitative and qualitative mechanics to understand the issues experienced by NCA in emergency response control, as well as to match those to the FEMA and Crisis Management System requirements.
- Phase 2: Infrastructure Analysis. At this stage, Virtual International is expected to analyze the pitfalls and bottlenecks of the current IT infrastructure used across NCA sites and develop a technically competent transition plan.
- Phase 3: Infrastructure Upgrades. At this stage, Virtual International liaison with NCA sites on specific upgrades and cost investments required to improve voice communication and data exchange procedures required for the infrastructure improvements.
- Phase 4: Training. At this stage, Virtual International develops training manuals and provides training for the employees of NCA related to the use of new communication tools.
- Phase 5: Ongoing/Post-Release. At this stage, both parties are continuously working as partners to improve communication-based on reported issues, problems, and disaster management issues according to the FEMA and government requirements.
Review of Other Work
To acknowledge the idea chosen for the study, four academic studies and reports related to the choice of the appropriate systems for managing cloud and virtual communication during disaster times were chosen. The first evidence is gathered from the recent strategic planning report published by FEMA (2020), which suggests that one of the three strategic goals of the organization is to reduce the complexity of services it provides. Specifically, it was admitted that there is a sub-strategy for the simplified FEMA, an opportunity where readiness to address catastrophic disasters is empowered by the specific factors or side organizations.
Specifically, FEMA is committed to “innovate and leverage new technology to reduce complexity, increase efficiency, and improve outcomes” (FEMA, 2020, p. 4) that streamlines both individual and community contribution to the data security and survivor protection in disaster times. While this commitment was not clearly outlined in terms of expected achievements, it gives a solid backbone to consider that the government should support any assistance in managing computerized systems from the smaller organizations.
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The practical exploration of such commitment was further explored by Gaire et al. (2020), who admitted the importance of the real-time information dissemination for emergency services using the appropriate combination of the information and communication technology (ICT). Specifically, authors specified that the use of sensors that collect the appropriate information from the multitude of sources, including social network twits, posts, and reminders are essential to be timely processed to retrieve critical national security data on time.
Moreover, the ubiquity aspect of using mobile devices and Internet of Things was also admitted as the advantageous vision towards building the future framework that confronts data deluge and supports the real-time data collection. Therefore, authors suggested that the use of elastic and scalable infrastructure for the case of ongoing alert management is best achieved using situation-awareness applications that are underpinned by the recent technological infrastructure. Hence, in this case the use of the cloud computing and virtualization becomes justified only if the organization actively explores outbound signals and successfully transverses those into the sensor-independent data.
Another study by Akter and Wamba (2019) provides a qualitative perspective on the previous research in light of the big data usage for disaster prevention perspective. While the ideas voiced in the study are polar and multidimensional, it is worth admitting its focus on the problem of generating the huge amount the disaster-related data. Further, there is an issue with integration of traditional processing systems that face challenges with performance fulfilment, scalability, and the approximation of needs availability. However, while authors provide a robust classification on what should be clearly evaluated for methodological scales such as measuring distribution of articles, there is still an uncertainty on how the real contribution of studies could be applied to the cloud computing funding and estimating server workload on the cloud.
For instance, it was fairly mentioned that the workload on university databases increases since 2017, while the ability of using the cloud servers and virtualizing accessibility has not eventually changed since 2016 (Akter & Wamba, 2019). Therefore, there is little evidence on the environmental impact; alternatively, there is a constructive evidence to conclude that current technical environment might not be capable to satisfy disaster management requirements.
Finally, the last evidence attributes to the role of the disaster management techniques in terms of management approaches, which is important for estimating how human resources should be aligned with organizational practices. According to Wellington and Ramesh (2017), the main sector disaster scheme comprises of the human resource development, setting up the disaster management facilities across states or regions, as well as having the disaster management hub.
Furthermore, in a liaison with another disaster management teams it is important having a community preparedness and risk reduction scheme, disaster service management, and the prerequisites for sheltering and settlement (Wellington & Ramesh, 2017). Hence, it implies that any technique should be supported by the appropriate data supported for making critical decisions depending on the problem concentration area, which suggests better coordination of efforts and resource distribution.
Relation of Artifacts to Project Development
The aforementioned literature artifacts contribute to the formation of the future project thinking in the following ways. The first artifact published by FEMA (2020) reinforces an overall organizational commitment towards achieving particular goals of engaging smaller enterprise in national security defense against the incidence. It allows a formal thinking on whether it is appropriate or not involving certain vendors or suppliers to participate in remote computing management in a disaster recovery aspect on the national level.
The second artifact proposed by Gaire et al. (2020) confirms the interest of commercial organizations in the project through the use of social networking technologies, that will be require to process by the intellectually developed infrastructure. In this case, common data exemplars such as blog posts or twits are carefully integrated with existing systems and should be stored and maintained using the appropriate cloud data exchange methodology. The third artifact suggests the importance of differentiating between the actual source of information and its virtualization opportunities, showing that security and usability loopholes are yet to be analyzed even for the structured data. Finally, the last evidence gives a broader perspective of how the risk preparedness strategies could be utilized under the uncertainty conditions and resource planning approaches.
The project rationale is based on the two preceding factors. First, it was previously stated that national authorities such as FEMA and Central Management System experience difficulties in managing disasters on the national level. It calls for more efficient resource allocation in critical locations of the NCA activities such as Florida and Texas based on the reasons of pandemics distribution and weather effect. According to The New York Times (2020), Texas experiences huge increase in coronavirus spread since October, which might be eventually coincided with the state geographical location and lack of facilities to control the outburst.
Alternatively, the state of Florida is the one that experiences the largest occasions of thunderstorms occurring from 75 to 105 per year, which disrupts its internal communication opportunities (Florida Department of Transportation, 2020). Apart from that, communication and voice-exchange related technologies remain untouched, while there is a benefit of serving vulnerable populations to maintain overall sustainability in the service ethics (FEMA, 2020) Considerably, the business ethics suggests that operational disruption because of the system malfunctioning brings losses to the IT infrastructure in both areas.
Based on the above considerations, the remote assistance in resolving the conflicts on urgent system recoveries and communications is needed. Specifically, it assumes that local NCA centers might have either insufficient resources to assist in disaster recovery or have a lack of local personnel to deal with inbound assistance requests. Therefore, the establishment of a new, cloud-based communication technology will help to mitigate the identified regional risks, as well as to build on the framework for the disaster management and leveraging on human resource engagement. However, it will require technical consolidation of the requirement specifications to ensure that pandemics and weather risk efforts are equally controlled by the vendor in terms of the efficiency and further project scalability.
Current Project Environment
Currently, the NCA has two primarily locations in the states of Texas and Florida, which provide disaster management services based on the NIST and FEMA standards. The core responsibilities of the main facilities include emergency services such as water and power supply, independent IT network and telecommunication system, security systems, and basic emergency food supply system. The analysis of the current environment shows that the isolated nature of IT network is a bottleneck that could be eventually empowered with the IT infrastructure optimization.
Specifically, both facilities would eventually benefit from having its independent IT network empowered with an emergency management information system supported by own servers and back-up capabilities to operate in multiple domains. Furthermore, the local telecommunication system could be also enhanced with alternative communication links including microwave and satellite systems. However, given the nature of sporadic disaster occurrence, the NCA expects difficulties in receiving the appropriate funding for communication and networking process optimizations, suggesting that the best choice is to outsource such solutions.
Given that Virtual International is a government-approved provider for disaster management scenarios based on the previously accomplished projects, it is feasible for NCA to consider its services on the outsource basis. Virtual International is a small firm that possesses accumulated knowledge in network planning, risk management, and infrastructure optimization under the condition of intensive assistance request during the past pandemic outbreaks, thunderstorms, and tsunamis. The core advantage of the Virtual International is storing the data on multiple cloud servers located globally, which predisposes secure emergency data collection, analysis, and exchanges based on the SaaS platform architecture.
In this way, Virtual International does not disrupt main operation of the facility but could be eventually extended to a public domain through the Active Directory configuration. Meanwhile, in parallel NCA could use consolidated data from the cloud servers owned by the Virtual International to perform extensive analytics and forecasting based on the historical data related to the disaster management occurrence. Hence, while the role of Virtual International is supportive, it could be further used for enhancing disaster management operations on the local level through the use of cloud technology.
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The major systems considered for further virtualization are defined as follows. First, Virtual International could provide assistance in managing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) used by NCA to ensure that the spread of viruses or weather collisions are visually reflected and forecasted based on the socioeconomic risks. Second, Virtual International can provide extensive training for internal group of analysts who deal with forecasting to explain current methods of disaster risk identification and aversion based on the previous experience.
Third, Virtual International can provide a cost-efficient solution for storing and analyzing the geospatial data using its remote cloud servers that are not located within organizational premises of NCA. It is particularly efficient for the Florida hub because of increasing risks of hurricanes based on the seasonality forecasts. Finally, since all data is backed up in a central facility located in Colorado airfield, it will further guarantee better data security and integrity within a cloud environment, since the main center has better physical and environmental protection.
The following statuses of the project environment could be assigned to the chosen locations:
- Florida hub is vulnerable in terms of weather factors such as hurricanes or thunderstorms that could sporadically disrupt normal business operations and will require immediate emergency support;
- Texas hub is less vulnerable in terms of weather effects, while should be more reactive towards pandemics assistance because of the close proximity to the national border
- The main hub is Colorado is well-protected as a strategic location on the national level, while could be a subject for massive cyberattacks aimed to disrupt common business operations.
- Some organizational practices used by the government officials are not applicable anymore and require a fresh look from the cybersecurity standpoint in smaller but developing business.
- We primarily focus on developing ourselves; hence, it is mot a call for a finish!
To outline the methodology of the project execution, ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) has been chosen as the most appropriate solution. ADDIE methodology is broadly recognized among organizations seeking for performance improvement and instructional design used as guidance by contemporary business organizations involved in process analysis. ADDIE is recognized as a methodological approach for organizations requiring additional system use training, since it has an integral evaluation philosophy required to understand whether a certain system is designed appropriately and satisfies customer requirements.
Molenda (2015) mentioned that ADDIE is important in instructional system design practice, while also supported the idea of implementing its in other IT projects as well, including the disaster management practice. Hence, ADDIE has been chosen to be applied for the new government entity projects based on the reason of nothing to be done in isolation or in linear fashion, since activities of various phases may be accomplished concurrently.
The analysis stage of the model corresponds to the initial requirement of organizational sensing, where Virtual International should collect and evaluate specific data about the project. The design stage primarily stands for developing use cases and relevant system diagrams that show the interrelations between system elements in disaster management network. The development stage relates to the choice of services that Virtual International will provide to its customers depending on the scope of work. The implementation is basically an integration of past ideas into a single framework, which assumes potential system turbulation, uncertainties, and conflicts on the human level.
Finally, the evaluation stage is an ongoing process that requires previous evaluation of risks related to disaster management, which might eventually result into the next iteration of ADDIE under the conditions of high market pressure. Otherwise, it might emerge as an effort of considering new cloud technologies that will effectively support current and future business operations.
Project Goals, Objectives, and Deliverables
Goals, Objectives, and Deliverables Table
The following table summarizes goals, supporting objectives, and deliverables expected from the involvement of Virtual International into an NCA-approved project of remote computing management services using the ADDIE methodology:
|Goal||Supporting objectives||Deliverables enabling the project objectives|
|1||Sense the organization||1.1. To identify current state of the organization||1.2.1. Interview reports from IT specialists|
|1.2.2. Market survey analyses|
|1.2.3. Evidence from observers or experts|
|1.2. To define potential areas for improvement.||1.2.1. Interview reports from organizational management|
|1.2.2. Analytical reports from market researchers|
|1.2.3. Comparative market analytics results|
|1.3. To propose specific changes||1.3.1. Management report|
|1.3.2. Project budget|
|1.3.3. Master project plan with identified risks|
|2||Analyze the infrastructure||2.1. To investigate current technology status||2.1.1. Vulnerability and risk analysis|
|2.1.2. Analysis of the overall network capability|
|2.1.3. Network security analysis|
|2.2. To investigate opportunities for improvement||2.2.1. Interview protocols with network administrators|
|2.2.2. Research analysis of the available technologies|
|2.2.3. Evidence from the past projects/lessons learned sessions|
|2.3. To propose infrastructural improvements based on the site location||2.3.1. GIS reports|
|2.3.2. Recent evidence of abnormal network activities (ITIL evidence is required)|
|2.3.3. Risk assessment protocols and standards (ITIL evidence is required)|
|3||Implement infrastructure upgrades||3.1. Implementing robust local technical support||3.1.1. Local technicians will configure onsite switches, routers, and ESXi servers|
|3.1.2. Local technicians will also install computing hardware (PCs, printers, phones, etc.)|
|3.1.3. Local technicians are well trained to provide consultancy services|
|3.2. Implementing remote organizational units and consultancy services||3.2.1. Remote System Administrators will create NCA as a parent site in Active Directory.|
|3.2.2. Each site will consist of 2 Domain controllers and 2 additional servers (1 will contain file/print services roles) per domain|
|3.2.3. The two organizational units codenamed Florida and Texas are created and become fully operational|
|3.3. Installing additional technical capacity||3.3.1. 10 printers connected to printer server (including server connection mediums)|
|3.3.2. 80 HP Compaq Elite desktop machines configured with necessary baseline software (Windows 10, Microsoft Office 2016, Adode, Axway Validator, McAfee, slack, etc.) are supplied|
|3.3.3. The 24/7 support for system support is established through a formal agreement with supplier|
Goals, Objectives, and Deliverables Descriptions
The first project goal is to ensure the appropriate organizational sensing prior to the implementation of IT infrastructure redevelopment. The supporting objectives include identifying organizational state, exploration of the potential areas for improvement, and developing a proposal that states the objective of change in the use of current technology. The evidence expected to be collected for supporting objectives primarily relates to exploring the market, common employees, and organizational management to comprise a meaningful picture of the future endeavors and project changes.
The data might emerge in both qualitative and quantitative form depending on the source provided. However, it is important to ensure the data validity and integrity as it was previously highlighted for the literature review on subcontracting and FEMA (2020) requirements. Budgeting and management reporting tools presentation is also critical at this point of project engagement. Finally, the master plan for the project execution should be clearly elaborated as a tool for the future project progress tracking.
The second project goal is to conduct an analysis of the existing organizational infrastructure. The underlying objectives are research-oriented and suppose that technology status analysis and improvement opportunities will be significant for the outsourcing project described above. For instance, it is important to use the Six Sigma or relevant scenarios to perform a quality management check on the transparency of workplace management and workflow procedures. In times of pandemics some might found it unnecessarily, while it is important to admit that there are alternative production solutions that could eventually affect the performance of the stand-up government entity in case such entity is not liaison with the government rules.
The third project goal relates to the proposal of specific changes and therefore should be seen as a transitional effort in promoting the need of separate consultancy. On the one hand, it offers the solution of implementing robust technical support to ensure that better organizational drivers are established through the role of local technical support team, which in its essence might be agile and require less coordination or supervision.
Alternatively, another objective states that remote organizational units and consultancy services might eventually transcend the vision of how the project should be executed in terms of resource management and planning. However, it is unclear whether the budgeting rules will be clearly applied in terms of implementing necessary training scenarios within the organizational context.
Overall, it could be summarized as follows:
- Server Visualization Assessment. This step includes analysis of the installed system configuration, and exploratory analysis of the available technology on the market. The outcome of this analysis is server performance metrics and environmental considerations which would be implemented by the delivery date.
- Performance Evaluation. Upon completion of the initial assessment team will require to confirm that these requirements match the existing hardware, software, network security and network capacities, considering that hardware upgrades are not included in scope of project deliverables.
- Server Implementation. At this stage all technical steps like upgrade of server technology, mapping network activity, developing new network topology and configuring network equipment are included.
- Project-related deliverables include project charter, scope statement, cost analysis, WBS, project analysis and final report. In some cases, it could be extended to the managerial level reports requested ad-hoc.
- Product-related deliverables include revamped server configuration which allows creating several virtual machines using hardware and software installed inside the boundaries of technical specialty departments and results of needs analysis conducted by team members among department superiors.
Project Timeline with Milestones
In this section (suggested length of 1–2 pages), provide a projected timeline with milestones for the project. These may be estimates that will most likely be adjusted, as many times the project will require adjustments during the development and implementation phases. Provide a projected timeline with milestones for the project, including the duration and start and end dates of each milestone. Include the following table:
|Milestone or deliverable||Duration |
(hours or days)
|Projected start date||Anticipated end date|
|Server virtualization assessment||3 d||Oct 10||Oct 14|
|Performance Evaluation||3d||Oct 10||Oct 14|
|Server Implementation||6d||Oct 14||Oct 22|
|Product-related deliverables||3d||Oct 22||Oct 25|
|Project-related deliverables||3d||Oct 22||Oct 25|
The anticipated project outcomes assume the ability of involving external partners in a collaborative agreement based on the current reviews and analysis of the recovery management agenda. However, it is important that the initiative is government-driven, which means that all relevant research investigation should be further approved by the Board to be rejected or acknowledged. Once completed, the success of the project will be measured using a mixed-research approach of interviewing participants through the use of semi-structured interviews at the first stge. The next level will be used to develop a methodological study that uses quantitate methods to investigate the opinions of larger populations such as, for instance, multicultural agile teams. Henceforth, the overall objectives will be attempted to discuss, while some will still remain irrelevant.
For the given specific case, it is important to outline the role of cloud computing and virtualization as the role for making the appropriate decisions in ways how disasters are managed and controlled in a real world. In fact, there is a high dependency on the human factor in terms of adopting or rejecting certain provisions of the emergency management despite the occupational standards or hazards. It means that the overarching findings might be not sufficient to justify the choice of cloud servers as well as seeing those as underbudgeted, while the scenario of cost-efficient investment and capital investment modeling might appear being a surprise.
Given that NCA attempts to control two types of attacks on its internal IT systems, it is likely that the one will become even more vulnerable in terms of future penetration efforts. Unfortunately, Virtual International cannot guarantee such way of obscurity and this could be a subject for managing partnership trust agreements in the future. Nevertheless, risky endeavors bring profit and could be considered as a perfect opportunity of having new, digitalized life.
Akter, S., & Wamba, S.F. (2019). Big data and disaster management: A systematic review and agenda for future research. Annual Operations Research, 283, 939-959. Web.
FEMA (2020). 2018-2020 strategic plan. Web.
Florida Department of Transportation (2020). Emergency management. Web.
Gaire R. et al. (2020) Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud Computing Enabled Disaster Management. In: Ranjan R., Mitra K., Prakash Jayaraman P., Wang L., Zomaya A.Y. (eds.) Handbook of Integration of Cloud Computing, Cyber Physical Systems and Internet of Things. Scalable Computing and Communications. Springer, Cham. Web.
Molenda, M. (2015). In search of the elusive ADDIE model. Performance Improvement, 54(2), 40-42.
The New York Times (2020). Texas coronavirus map and case count. Web.
Wellington, J.J., & Ramesh, P. (2017). Role of Internet of Things in disaster management. 2017 International Conference on Innovations in Information, Embedded and Communication Systems (ICIIECS), Coimbatore, pp. 1-4. Web.
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