Rick Piña joined WWT in July 2015 after serving in the United States Army for 25 years. In Rick’s culminating military assignment he served as the U.S. Army Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
Q&A with Rick Piña
- Tell us about your background and how you got into technology.
- I received my first computer, a Commodore Vic-20, when I was in the fifth grade and I have been hooked on technology ever since. When I joined the United States Army in 1990 I was trained as a Transportable Automatic Switching Systems Operator/Maintainer, which basically means I ran a voice switch. We provided secure and non-secure dial-tone and long-haul communications. My early years in the Army (1990 and 1991) were primarily focused on telecommunications. In late 1992, the Army started the shift from voice to data communications. Our backbone links were a whopping 64kbs. In 1998, I was assigned to serve as the Platoon Leader of the Army’s first Tactical Message Switch (TMS) Platoon. In this role I was responsible for Cisco routers, Unix servers, Exchange Servers and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). That was the beginning of the COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) technology trend in the military that has persisted. It was good to see the military shift from “green boxes” to more commercially available technology and I have enjoyed seeing the continual evolution. I have pretty much been a “techie” since elementary school and I am thankful to continue to serve at WWT.
- What is your role at WWT?
- I serve as a Chief Technology Advisor for WWT’s Public Sector group. This role is very similar to what I did in the Army as CTO. I get to interface with WWT’s wide array of industry partners, and across the federal, state and local government and education verticals, to match emerging technology with industry gaps and opportunities, with the goal being to provide integrated solutions for our customers in the public sector.
- What innovation is happening in collaboration that has you really excited?
- The acceptance and adoption of unified capabilities in the federal space is exciting. Federal customers have not always embraced fully integrated solutions. The federal acquisition process often lends itself to stovepipe solutions, but there is a shift occurring where federal IT leaders are seeking truly unified and integrated solutions. I believe we will see federal government customers seek and procure solutions that integrate messaging (mail and IM), voice, video, presence/awareness, and collaboration in the near future, and in some cases they will consume the technology ‘as a service’.