The Future of IT: Goddard's 2020 Vision

The exceptionalpersonnel of the Goddard Space Flight Center enjoy a proud heritage at thecutting edge of space and environmental science.  As a CIO looking 10years into Goddard’s future, I foresee the heritage of scientific and technicalexcellence preserved through the continued efforts of world-class personnel,world-class science, and world-class technology enhancements.

In today’s NASA,we talk of multiple types of service improvements through cloud computing,network integration, information sharing, and improved High PerformanceComputing.  As I consider the 1965 counsel of Intel co-founder GordonMoore, that computing power will double about every 2 years, that translatesinto a 2020 Goddard IT infrastructure that is 5 times more powerful than we havetoday.

Will integratedchip architecture continue to evolve as Moore’s Law predicts?  I believeit will – but perhaps not in completely the same form as heretofore. Perhaps in 10 years we will have achieved the first operational quantumcomputing capabilities.  Perhaps other interim or surpassing capabilitieswill have been attained.  Whatever the form these technologies will take,the underpinning information technologies at GSFC will enable more powerfulsensors, producing exponentially more detailed data, which in turn will beunderstood through modeling that today can be considered only a dream.

As in the past,in the year 2020, the GSFC team and its supporting technologies will still bedriving the means by which mankind observes, measures, and predicts the stateof our global environment, the understanding of our sun and solar system, theidentification of exoplanets capable of sustaining human life, and the originsof our universe.  The attainment of such knowledge will continue to improvethe lives of millions, sustain and advance our national economy, and fire theimaginations of those who will one day stand on our shoulders as GSFC is passedto a new generation of scientific leaders.  It is my belief thatinformation technology will continue to be a tool to sustain and enrich thateffort now and in the future.

8 thoughts on “The Future of IT: Goddard's 2020 Vision”

  1. I’m confused. Wouldn’t the Goddard 2020 infrastructure be 2^5=32 times more powerful than it is today?

  2. Justin, you raise a good point. Moore’s law, like compound interest, would apply to the new value at the end of each 2-year period, not the starting value. Although my undergraduate degree is in Environmental Science, my Masters degree and doctorate study is in Management. The transition has obviously dulled my mathematical sensitivity! But that is the beauty of a blog – the mind-meld of crowd-sourcing nearly always produces a better understanding of a problem. Thank you for the correction!

  3. I intend for my blog to serve as a collaborative environment where readers are encouraged to provide their feedback through an open forum on published language from my 1,000-day Strategic Plan and IT Roadmap. This is an effort to not only provide transparency into Goddard’s Office of the CIO, but also to consider and incorporate readers’ ideas and suggestions in my decision-making processes. In addition, my blog, coupled with other vehicles, will help others understand the importance and value of IT at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Once it’s value is realized, we will be able to better serve our customers, the Center, and support Goddard’s overall mission.

  4. Latching onto your goal of “providing an open forum,” I’m hoping you can provide insight into something pretty simple that would help ease the “password overload” problem that 10,000+ GSFC employees face every day. My proposal is to issue tokens that, when combined with simple pin, gives access to NASA Launchpad. This is similar to what we do with my smartcard badge, but that approach doesn’t seem to be adopted for Launchpad (and I’m not sure if it’s in the plan to do that). No need to remember passwords that change every 3 months, only a token and a pin. The technology exists, it’s affordable, and it only takes a top-down decision by Agency IT leadership to implement as an option. Will Agency IT leadership recognize “password overload” as a problem and make it a priority to ease?

  5. You mention service improvements in our future in your message above.

    Recently GSFC stopped the x500 service from the network services and suggested that we use the NED directory search.

    From my point of view this is not a service improvement. These new directories do not have the functionality that the x500 directory service had. The lost functionality was that the x500 directory would match common nicknames and aliases (tom for thomas or joe for joseph) and a fuzzy logic search when searching for people names. The NED directory search returns nothing, while it does have wildcard feature its not the same and requires lots of trial and error.

    Would it be possible to have you and your team consider reviving this useful productivity enhancing service.

  6. Manuel,

    I saw your comment and had to respond. Try the search at (You can also get to it from the “phonebook” tab of the InsideGoddard site). It has fuzzy matching, wildcards, and the other features you’re looking for. You can misspell someone’s name, and it will still find the person. I agree that the NED site is not very usable, which is why we made the simple interface for the phonebook. I let the X.500 migration lead know about the site, as well.


  7. Thank you BP for your suggestion. Actually, the Agency integrated both our current RSA Token Infrastructure (Two Factor Token Infrastructure, or TFTI) as well as Smartcards, into the Agency Launchpad as of September 16th. As an end user, you will only be prompted for your RSA token or Smartcard if the software application owner has installed a ‘Policy Agent’ on their server, which is a small software program (provided by the Agency Launchpad team) to enable RSA or Smartcard access for that particular application. On a related note, the Authentication Integration project aims to reduce the ‘password overload’ by enabling software application owners to modify their software to support authentication via Active Directory (NDC domain) or Launchpad. This integration will allow those applications to be accessed using simplified sign-on (SSO) – where you login once to your desktop (or another application) and all other applications recognize this login without you having to re-enter another username and password. The simplified sign-on is a goal at NASA where all applications will authenticate from a single login. You can see simplified sign-on in action today when you login to SATERN, IdMAX, WebTads, or other integrated applications.

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