GSA’s Casey Coleman at the Gov 2.0 Summit

Today on the Federal Cloud Blog, we learn more about what the General Services Administration is doing when it comes to moving to the cloud.

Casey Coleman is the agency’s chief information officer.

She recently sat down with FCB during the Gov 2.0 Summit to talk more about how she’s transforming operations at her agency.

Federal Cloud Blog: You’re here at the Gov 2.0 Summit to talk a little bit about cloud and how the vision is going to happen. What kind of message do you hope to get across to the audience?

Casey Coleman: We’re in the early stages of adopting cloud computing and realizing the promise, but this administration really wants to change the way government leverages technology — and cloud computing plays a big role in that — with the promise, or the potential, of making government operations lower cost, faster, more agile and greener — most sustainable. So, the promise is huge and we have to get past the issues of security, of privacy and, potentially, a culture that is averse in some cases to embracing new technologies in rapid order.

FCB: GSA has been out in front of the cloud initiative. You, specifically, as leader of the working group from the CIO Council — what are you finding as some of the biggest challenges? Is it an education issue? Is it security and privacy concerns from the IA community? What are you seeing as some challenges during these initial first few steps?

CC: Obviously security is the big challenge. We realize that. Some of the promise of cloud computing is the potential for actually improving security in the sense that, operating in a shared environment with the best possible security can bring up everyone’s standard of security and privacy considerations. On the other hand, when you are in a cloud environment of any sort, you are, by definition, sharing. You’re sharing resources and so that blending of organizational roles and responsibilities and the blurring of traditional system boundaries creates new challenges for how we approach security and calls for us to think about it in a different way. That’s really one of the paramount considerations that we’re dealing with.

FCB: I know [a] CIO Council working group is working on security guidance [and] privacy guidance around Web 2.0. Can you give us any kind of update of where we’re at with that — and maybe even an idea of what’s going to be in it?

CC: We’re working closely with them. They have put out a Web 2.0 policy document that is, I think, in review right now. We will be taking that and using it as guidance and as input to put to cloud computing because they’re obviously very closely related. That’s a group of folks who’ve been thinking about this issue for quite some time, so we want to make sure we learn from their analysis.

FCB: The other issue that we’ve seen around is the RFP’s — the RFI’s — a lot of activity. I think you have vendors both excited and a little nervous about what’s happening. I spoke to one vendor [who] said, “Listen, we’ve got to play in this. If we don’t, we’re going to get shut out,” and I think it’s almost like another GWAC, which I know you’re not hoping to make it that way, but what kind of feedback are you getting from industry around the cloud initiative in general?

CC: I believe that there is a lot of excitement — a lot of interest from industry. It is important to be engaged in this conversation at this point. On the other hand, this is a long term initiative. This is not something we’re going to flip a switch and turn on over night. So, the conversation will evolve and opportunities will emerge that we don’t know about right now. I would say this is a marathon, not a sprint.

FCB: Any status update you can give us? I know maybe things are still in the process around the infrastructure-as-a-service RFQ that came out — or even the software-as-a-service RFI that was reissued? Any update around those?

CC: Just to say there’s been a lot of interest and we’re hoping for robust competition on the RFQ for infrastructure-as-a-service. That is underway right now and we’re anticipating a really good outcome.

FCB: As far as the RFI, there’s no timetable as to when you would hope to get another RFQ or RFP out?

CC: Not at this point because we want to build awareness among the vendor community and start to get those firms already on Schedule 70 who are software-as-a-service providers to self-identify and start to categorize themselves so that we can know that they are part of this community.

FCB: Let’s move away from your role in the CIO Council and back to your other hat that you wear — GSA CIO. Obviously the office of citizen services {is in the cloud}. Is GSA using it in other ways, as well?

CC: Not at this time. We are looking at other ways in which cloud computing could provide value to GSA. One thing that is something we’re doing some market research on is email and collaboration capabilities in a cloud-based solution.

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One Response to GSA’s Casey Coleman at the Gov 2.0 Summit

  1. Menny Podo says:

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