Where will VanRoekel take cloud computing?

August 8, 2011

Steven VanRoekel was named the second-ever federal chief information officer this week. VanRoekel is no stranger to government. He most recently worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Before that he was at the Federal Communications Commission and Microsoft.

VanRoekel will be taking over where Vivek Kundra leaves off – leading an IT community that has been charged with helping the government save money via data center consolidation and using newer, innovative technologies like cloud computing. Under his leadership, the FCC was the first agency to take its full web presence to a FISMA-compliant cloud.

“What I really saw at the Federal Communications Commission is that this notion of re-imagining government in the context of the pace of innovation of private industry can be done in government,” VanRoekel said at a White House press briefing this week. “And it can be done in such a way that can save money, save resources and everything else. We were in lock step with Vivek’s team here on data center consolidation, our cloud-first policy and using tools like TechStat and all of that, even though we were an independent agency we were doing everything to close that productivity gap and make things better. I saw what could be done. Now I’m really excited about the ability to take that work and scale it to the broader notion of government and take the momentum and impact things broadly.”

VanRoekel will have one week on the job with Kundra before Kundra leaves for a fellowship at Harvard University, but it’s clear the work Kundra started will be expanded upon under the new CIO.

“Vivek’s work was really the first step in a larger rework of government IT,” VanRoekel said. “It lays an amazing foundation on which we can build a new set of phenomenon. Looking at things like more in the open government space, looking at shared services across agencies, looking at procurement, purchase and IT investment models are something I really want to explore. This is all very early thinking, of course. These are all things I’ve struggled with at the FCC, that we found creative ways to work in the context of government, and I’m excited that can actually scale pretty broadly.”

Don’t fear the cloud, Kundra says

August 1, 2011

Fears about the security of cloud computing are exaggerated, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said at a forum on Capitol Hill last week.

“A lot of people are sort of driving this notion of fear around security,” Kundra said, according to Computer World. “And the reason I think that’s been amplified, frankly, is because it preserves the status quo.”

The conference was organized by Kundra and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) to address the future of cloud computing in the federal government.

While security remains a major concern and, in some cases, a roadblock to public cloud adoption, agencies like the Department of Homeland Security are bucking the trend. DHS announced in May plans to move its public websites to the public cloud.

“I am a believer that we are going to, over the next few years, really solve a lot of the cybersecurity concerns that we have with cloud-based services,” DHS CIO Richard Spires said at the forum, according to Computer World.

Kundra also believes the shift to cloud computing will mean stiffer competition among government contractors. According to Federal Times, “Kundra said the administration wants to ‘introduce Darwinian pressure’ into the market to ensure that companies win government IT contracts because they provide greater efficiencies, not because they’ve mastered the procurement process.”

Saving money has been a major topic of conversation on Capitol Hill in recent weeks as lawmakers sparred over raising the debt ceiling.

During the forum, Sen. Carper said the use of cloud computing and smarter IT overall is one of the biggest ways to save money in government.

“We need to look into every nook and cranny of the federal government and find better results for less money . . . One of the great ways you can provide better service for less money is to do IT well and to do it smart,” Carper said, according to NextGov.

HR, financial systems next to the cloud

June 13, 2011

A great story on cloud computing from Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller.

Miller reports federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra sees financial systems and human resources systems as the next two big areas that could benefit from cloud computing. Kundra said the government currently runs more than 1,000 different financial and HR systems.

“I envision in the future, in the next couple of years, where you will be seeing major multi-billion dollar RFPs that are cloud centric coming in and disrupting financial, HR and other platforms across the government. And to give a strong signal to the private sector to make sure the private sector [is] innovating and providing us with solutions that allow us to move away from the model of asset ownership and to service provisioning,” Kundra said at a recent event.

The Labor Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are two of the agencies that have already moved their financial management systems to the cloud. And the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently issued a sources sought notice to move its system to a new provider, and cloud computing is one option.

In February, Kundra said $20 billion of the $80 billion the federal government spends on information technology is a potential target for migration to the cloud. His Federal Cloud Computing Strategy listed the Department of Homeland Security and the Treasury Department as the two agencies with the biggest potential to save.

GSA’s email cloud contract could be worth $2.5 billion

April 28, 2011

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra expects the General Services Administration to issue a solicitation by May 10 for a $2.5 billion contract for email-as-a-service. It’s part of how the administration wants agencies to move to cloud computing, Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reports.

Kundra said Wednesday there are $20 billion in systems across the government that could move to the cloud, and email and collaboration software are among the easiest first steps.

“We already are seeing 15 agencies that have identified 950,000 e-mail boxes across 100 email systems that are going to move to the cloud,” he said during an update on the administration’s 25-point IT reform plan at the White House. “This represents a huge opportunity for [vendors] to aggressively compete for these new opportunities in the cloud space and provide the government with the best value and most innovative technologies.”

Miller reports GSA has been working on the email-as-a-service RFQ since last summer. It likely will be a blanket purchase agreement, similar to the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) contract GSA awarded to 11 vendors last October.

Read Jason’s full story on this topic by clicking the link above.

This week in cloud computing

April 17, 2011

Kundra: Agencies on path for transition to cloud

Agencies are on track with their cloud computing strategies. Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra told those in attendance at the NIST Cloud Computing Forum and Workshop that all agencies have identified the three systems they will move to the cloud as part of the administration’s cloud-first policy. Kundra gave several examples of agencies that are moving full steam ahead. Read more and listen to Kundra’s speech by clicking the link above.

Six-month budget slashes e-gov fund by 76 percent

Among the cuts agreed to by lawmakers and President Obama in the 2011 budget compromise is a dramatic reduction in the administration’s E-Government fund, which pays for open government websites such as Data.gov, the IT Dashboard and USASpending.gov. Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra testified last week the government has saved $3 billion so far with the use of its 25-point IT restructuring plan. He said the process of adding transparency to IT programs was key to the cost savings the administration has achieved.

Also testifying at the hearing was Dave McClure, associate administrator in the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration. McClure said when GSA begins offering cloud email services under a blanket purchase agreement it estimates it will save agencies as much as 44 percent over their current email costs. Read the full story by clicking the link above.

Cloud-first policy, cloud security top of mind for feds

April 12, 2011

Federal News Radio covered two big stories this week on cloud computing. Check them out!

Cloud computing e-discovery risks a concern
Federal lawyers and record managers are watching closely how the General Services Administration, the Agriculture Department and others move their email and collaboration services to private sector cloud computing providers. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller says they have questions about accessing data if the government faces a lawsuit.

Kundra details cloud-first success stories
Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra was on hand at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s latest Cloud Computing Forum and Workshop. During a Q&A session, Kundra discussed some of the success stories for the Obama administration’s cloud-first policy. Listen to the Q&A by clicking the link above.

Cloud computing progress to be discussed at NIST forum

March 20, 2011

Government and industry leaders are coming together to discuss progress the government has made to advance open standards in interoperability, portability and security in cloud computing.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology will hold its Cloud Computing Forum & Workshop III April 7-8 at the agency’s headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md.

Working groups formed at the second forum held this past November will give updates on their progress. According to NIST the goals of the workshop are to present updates on:

  • the NIST U.S. Government (USG) Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap,
  • the NIST Standards Roadmap and the Standards Acceleration to Jumpstart the Adoption of Cloud Computing (SAJACC) process,
  • progress by the NIST Cloud Computing Security working group.

Cloud computing business use cases by various government agencies will also be presented as well as the first version of a neutral cloud computing reference architecture and taxonomy.

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and NIST Director Dr. Patrick Gallagher will keynote the event. According to the forum agenda, other keynotes and panelists are still being determined.

Panel topics include:

  • Cloud Computing – Adopters’ Long-term View
  • Can you ever really trust the cloud?
  • Cloud Innovation: Math & Science
  • Cloud Computing Standards Panel – Chicken or Egg?
  • Reference Architecture

Pre-registration is required for the event. Those interested in attending can register online until 5 p.m. March 28.

Feds could save $20 billion using cloud computing

February 17, 2011

Approximately $20 billion of the $80 billion the government spends on information technology is a potential target for migration to the cloud, according to the new Federal Cloud Computing Strategy. The document was released by federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra February 8.

According to estimates, the departments of Homeland Security and Treasury have the most potential to save. Both agencies reported to the Office of Management and Budget they believe they could save over $2.4 billion each by using cloud computing. The Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, and Transportation believe they could save over $2 billion each (See graph below).

The strategy comes on the heels of a cloud-first policy instituted by the Obama administration as part of its 25-Point IT Plan.

“The cloud computing model can significantly help agencies grappling with the need to provide highly reliable, innovative services quickly despite resource constraints,” Kundra said.

According to the document, the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy was developed to:

  • Articulate the benefits, considerations, and trade-offs of cloud computing;
  • Provide a decision framework and case examples to support agencies in migrating towards cloud computing;
  • Highlight cloud computing implementation resources; and,
  • Identify federal government activities and roles and responsibilities for catalyzing cloud adoption.

The three-step framework laid out in the strategy gives agencies issues to think about when making the move to the cloud. It also offers an official definition of cloud computing as determined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

“Successful organizations carefully consider their broad IT portfolios and create roadmaps for cloud deployment and migration,” said Kundra.”These roadmaps prioritize services that have high expected value and high readiness to maximize benefits received and minimize delivery risk.”

The strategy also outlines the importance of security when determining whether something should be moved to the cloud. It points out six specific security considerations:

  • Statutory compliance to laws, regulations, and agency requirements;
  • Data characteristics to assess which fundamental protections an application’s data set requires;
  • Privacy and confidentiality to protect against accidental and nefarious access to information;
  • Integrity to ensure data is authorized, complete, and accurate;
  • Data controls and access policies to determine where data can be stored and who can access physical locations; and,
  • Governance to ensure that cloud computing service providers are sufficiently transparent, have adequate security and management controls, and provide the information necessary for the agency to appropriately and independently assess and monitor the efficacy of those controls.

The strategy also outlines security benefits of using the cloud including the ability to refocus resources on areas of higher concern, potential platform strength due to greater uniformity, improved resource availability and backup and recovery capabilities, and the ability to leverage alternate cloud services to improve the overall security of the agency.

Kundra said he expects all agencies to re-evaluate their technology sourcing strategies and determine where cloud computing may be possible as part of their budget process.

“Cloud computing can be implemented using a variety of deployment models – private, community, public, or a hybrid combination,” Kundra said.

As the number of cloud computing providers increases, Kundra said the General Services Administration will offer tools which agencies can use to compare the offerings from various companies.

(Courtesy of the Office of Management and Budget)

Cloud Security Alliance Summit kicks off Monday

February 13, 2011

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra is one of the keynote speakers at this year’s Cloud Security Alliance Summit. Kundra is expected to discuss the federal government’s strategy for moving to the cloud.

The event is being held Monday, February 14 in San Francisco, California.

According to the group’s website, several research projects involving cloud will be introduced at the summit, “including research on governance, cloud security reference architectures and cloud-specific computer security incident response teams.”

The CSA is a non-profit organization. It was formed in 2008 “to promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within cloud computing, and provide education on the uses of cloud computing to help secure all other forms of computing.”

Check out the full summit agenda and the list of speakers.

On a separate but related note, Ernst & Young announced last week that it has joined the CSA as a corporate member, bringing the organization’s corporate membership to over 70 companies.

White House adopts ‘cloud first’ policy

December 21, 2010

The White House is adopting a “cloud first” policy and plans to reconfigure IT by consolidating federal data centers and applications.

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra recently unveiled the plan, which calls for creating a Data Center Consolidation Task Force and closing at least 800 of the federal government’s 2,100 data centers over the next five years.

The Data Center Consolidation Task Force will also serve as a “community of practice” for agency CIOS and data center program manager so they can share best practices, Kundra says.

The government’s “cloud first” strategy will revolve around using commercial cloud technologies, launching private government clouds, and using regional clouds with state and local governments.

In the next six months, Kundra says his office will create a strategy to accelerate the adoption of safe and secure cloud computing across the government.

Each agency will also be responsible for identifying three “must move” services and create a plan for migrating them to cloud solutions. One of those services must be moved within a year, and the other two within 18 months.

The migration plans will also include adoption targets, execution risks, major milestones, required resources and a plan for legacy services once the cloud services are up and running.


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