David E. Chesebrough, P.E., President of the Association for Enterprise Information and Vice-President, National Defense Industrial Association
Dave is President of the Association for Enterprise Information (AFEI), a part of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA). He leads the Association in fostering trusted collaboration between industry members and Federal government agencies on issues dealing with the evolving impacts of technology on enterprise information. His experience encompasses a wide range of industries including nuclear power, aerospace, defense systems engineering and IT consulting.
In 1993 he founded Iris, LLC, which provided electronic commerce consulting to a wide range of clients. He accepted his current position following 9/11 and re-positioned AFEI from a focus on commercial e-commerce to net-centric operations and adoption by government of commercial IT strategies and technology such as cloud, IdAM, and SOA. Today he is leading the NDIA family of associations in promoting interaction with government on cyber-security, mobility, big data and modern IT practices such as Agile methods and DevOps. Dave has frequently spoken at conferences and conducted training classes internationally.
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
What is your role with the Association for Enterprise Information and describe the value of the Association to industry and professionals?
"….In my role as president of the Association I provide long range strategic planning and assessment and guidance, as well as operational day to day management of the various activities that the Association engages in. AFEI is unique in that we take an enterprise perspective of the intersection of Information Technology and business, particularly as it affects our relationships between government and industry….Our value has become that of a trusted and neutral party where we foster collaboration between government and industry…."
Dave, you are Vice President, National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA). What are the objectives of the Association and the value delivered to industry and professionals?
"….NDIA is the leading association for industries that serve defense preparedness and national security so anything that we do as AFEI has at least one foot in the whole national security arena. NDIA provides a legal and ethical forum for government and industry to exchange information on national security and issues important to the membership…."
How big is NDIA and AFEI; how many members do you have?
"….NDIA, the parent organization, has over 1600 corporate members and upwards of seventy thousand individual members. By comparison, AFEI is a niche and we have around forty corporate members, but all of those members are focused on some form or application of information technology to the enterprise….."
What are some top challenges you have faced and your solutions to the challenges?
"….When I was a young engineer I was solving problems which were mostly technical and the challenges were mostly engineering….As I progressed in my career the challenges were different and my job in the Air Force required bringing various contractors together to get them to solve some of these technical problems in a manner that made our missions a success. This is where I first began to understand what I would later come to know as systems thinking. Integrating these systems you had to understand that everything was affected by everything else….The current problem that we're working on now with the Association is guiding its re-invention for the third time since I've been here. It is perhaps the greatest challenge that we're facing as we work to grow and expand the Association…. "
You have an intriguing background. Can you get into more detail? What were your majors when you were going to school and how did that eventually lead to your position where you're a president of one Association and a vice-president of another?
"….I wasn't even sure that I wanted to be an engineer, but I went into an engineering program and migrated through several majors during the first year or so and settled on mechanical engineering and found that I really enjoyed that….I really wanted to be a pilot, but by the time I got around to joining the military they were shedding pilots as they wound down from Vietnam, and after all that studying to be a Mechanical Engineer my eyes weren't up to par for their requirements so I entered the Air Force and went into a Missile program….After I left the Air Force, I came back to this area and began working in industry and got really interested in computer-aided design. I was intrigued by the digital nature of design information and that led me into something called Computer-Aided Logistics Support (CALS)…..The government (DoD) created something called the CALS Industry Steering Group which I participated in for a number of years and that organization is the forerunner of the Association for Enterprise Information that I now run today…."
You talked about some areas that are of some interest to the Associations that you lead and one of them is cyber-security. What changes are you seeing in cyber-security?
"….Cyber-security is a complex and shifting landscape and critically important to all of us as individuals to do things like protect our identity, it's important to corporations and organizations to maintain the integrity of their information systems, and it's vitally important to government because cyber-security helps to thwart digital espionage and things of that nature….The problem that we're finding in the large corporations is while they put a lot of money and effort into this, they are highly dependent on suppliers….Everybody becomes a target no matter how small they are because one of the vulnerabilities is penetration to defense suppliers through their supply chain…."
Earlier you also talked about some other topics. I know that Mobile will also be a key thrust. How are your members dealing with it and this whole idea of mobile being the priority for everything?
"….It's a consumer-driven IT trend obviously and it consumes a great deal of our members' time and energy, particularly in the defense and intelligence markets. This BYOD trend coupled with the cyber-vulnerability and the sophisticated social engineering phishing attacks that we're seeing now are of great concern. Relating to the cyber-security issue there is always the worry about insider threat….The other concern with the proliferation of mobility and connectivity is that it allows work to expand to occupy any place, any time…."
What is your perspective on Big Data, its promise or perhaps its pros and cons?
"….New technologies that help us deal with massive sets of data help us solve the whole velocity, volume, variety problem and in that I think there is huge potential. But there's also potential for mischief where somebody can know about all of your online habits and make conclusions of what they think you would like to see. That's leading us down the path of something like predictive analysis, and I think making predictive analysis and extrapolating that to making decisions and policies predicated on the predictions could be a bit risky….."
Dave talks more about Agile methods and DevOps.
"….Agile methods really popped on our radar about three years ago when we did a conference on Agile methods for DoD. From the conference we formed a group we called the Agile Defense Adoption Proponents team and have been doing fairly regular workshops and writing of papers since that time, so we've had a great deal of activity in the Agile work. It's been very interesting to me to begin to get familiar with the terminology and the principles and to try to understand how those things could be applied to a government acquisition's program especially in the DoD….Taking Agile to its ultimate end I think is DevOps….My goal in Agile for the coming year is to begin to look into DevOps with government, particularly the DoD because in terms of friction and silos, the DoD is really a poster child for having a siloed organization…."
This is current and is about the healthcare.gov issue. I know that you're not involved in that area of the marketplace but from your perspective what created those problems?
"….I think you can't underestimate the impact of politics on the building and launching of that technical capability; it is like oil and water. Political people are interested in perceptions and technical people are interested in delivering solutions and capability….I think we are going to find that the political influence just didn't allow Agile processes or even traditional waterfall processes to work well and resulted in launching a website that wasn't even fully tested end to end…."
In an analysis from a third party perspective of what occurred do you see a place for enterprise architecture in all of this? What are the challenges with EA and where has it failed? Is it too cumbersome?
"….One of the challenges for enterprise architecture is that it has been approached in a manner that made it too cumbersome. That challenge has emerged from the whole history of the beginning of enterprise architecture which is rooted in methods for documenting and planning information systems. Governments, in particular the folks that we deal with in the DoD, took the view of enterprise architecture that it was an IT function that documents the enterprise….Another challenge is so far enterprise architecture is not really a fully accepted enterprise governance practice….Another thing is we don't have a common definition. Compounding that problem is that architects have often gravitated towards a terminology that's really foreign to the people who run the businesses and this makes it hard for architects to convince executives, managers and operators that it has value…."
How do you see EA evolving and what will it look like in 5 years?
"….My hope is that it will become more process-oriented and less artifact-oriented and that it becomes as dynamic as technology and business are today…."
What is the value of the FEAPO EA perspectives paper and Career Paths work?
"….I think the perspectives paper captures the essence of the value of enterprise architecture and the need for it to become a core value of an organization. I think the Career Paths work is essential as well but I'm much clearer about how a career path for EA should evolve. Enterprise architecture is a young profession and it has its roots in IT. The perspectives paper and other writings tend to want to move EA into the C-suite as part of strategy which I think is the right thing to do, but the conundrum we face is that many feel that today IT is the business….I think there is some evolution to do to move us forward and I think FEAPO is one of the organizations well-positioned to help do that…."
From your perspective, can you tell us the value of FEAPO and why you are involved?
"….We were doing a conference for the Defense Department on enterprise architecture (they had a lot of money invested in what they called the DODAF – the DoD Architecture Framework). We were building a community of interest around enterprise architecture, having some success at communicating its value to senior executives. We brought in Brian (Cameron) because of his interest in the Penn State EA program, and we began talking about certification and from some of those conversations we expressed an interest in joining with him in creating whatever organization might be evolving from that. FEAPO was a result of that and we saw a decided gap in understanding in DoD and its suppliers and the inherent value of enterprise architecture to organizations. We became a Charter Founding member and even though DoD has moved on now from their architecture framework and have been embracing the federal enterprise architecture framework, we still think this is an important area for guidance of the alignment of business strategy and technologies and still very critical…."
Can you describe some areas of controversy in the areas that you work?
"….We work at the intersection of government and industry and so at that intersection you don't have to look very far to find controversy. Let me just point out some that we're engaged with….We are working with the DoD Intelligence community looking at business models and licensing around software….An area of controversy with regard to that is the concept of adopting app stores similar to the Apple concept….Another area is the government and DoD's approach to a supply chain risk in cyber-security…."
How do you see the evolution of EA as a recognized profession on par with Accounting, Medicine and Law, with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, personal responsibility, public accountability, quality assurance and recognized credentials? [See www.ipthree.organd the Global Industry Council, http://www.ipthree.org/about-ip3/global-advisory-council]
"….I think until there is a generally accepted demand for an enterprise architect we will struggle with the professional development standards….EA is a young profession and it's evolving, and in some ways it's caught in that Moore's Law kind of cycle of rapid changing technology. I'll go back to earlier comments on Agile methods and DevOps, because I think we need to see enterprise architecture in the context of these high velocity low friction organizations and if we can, then I think there's every possibility and chance that enterprise architecture becomes a profession like Law, Accounting and Medicine. But it's going to take the determined efforts and work of dedicated organizations like FEAPO to accomplish this…."
Dave shares some stories from his experiences from speaking, travels, and work (something amusing, surprising, unexpected or amazing).
"….I never knew how long that song was until I had to sing it in front of a bunch of businessmen….You never know what you are going to run into when travelling and it's good to be open to experiences because they create good memories…."
Dave, if you were conducting this interview, what questions would you ask and then what would be your answers?
"….A question about the secrets of success……A question about management styles….A question about goals…."
Dave, with your demanding schedules, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.