Interior’s National Business Center hopes to start offering IaaS soon

As we’ve been telling you, the Federal Cloud Blog got to go to this year’s Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va.

While there, we caught up with Doug Bourgeois, Director of the Interior Department’s National Business Center.

Today, we bring you a bit of that interview.


Listen to the first half of FCB’s interview with Doug Bourgeois


Federal Cloud Blog: The National Business Center is taking a serious look at cloud computing. Talk about where you see how cloud computing can really affect or improve the way you deliver services to other federal agencies.

douglas_bourgeois

Doug Bourgeois, Director, National Business Council, Interior Dept.

Doug Bourgeois: Cloud computing has several benefits, from a consumer of cloud services perspective.

One that is drawing a lot of interest in terms of the potential clients that we’re talking to now is the considerable improvement in service levels. In other words, it takes a matter of minutes to provision a new virtual server in a cloud environment. So, if you want to start a development project or get something underway, you don’t have to wait for the procurement process to go and carry its due course and have the technical folks install new equipment and so on and so forth. It really is — it’s an over-used word — but it really a paradigm shift in the way IT services are delivered.

Then the second benefit is, instead of having to purchase capital equipment, it just becomes a much less expensive expense item. You can also turn it off when you no longer need it, so you don’t have that poor investment.

FCB: When do you foresee getting a pilot going or getting into the early stages of cloud computing around shared services? Are you already there or is it a few more months out ?

DB: We’re very, very close. We are running some internal systems in the cloud now. For example, our Lotus notes application has been running in the cloud for several months. That’s part of our process for becoming familiar with the technology and how to operate it and optimize it. Our plan will have a soft launch for infrastructure-as-a-service development test environment in the month of November. [We’d like] earlier rather than later, but we’ll see. The testing is looking really, really good right now. [It] will be completed in the next week or so and then we’ll see where it goes from there. So, we’re expecting to have something ready pretty soon.

FCB: This would be for financial management, human resources — your customers that you provide the shared services for? Or would this be more internal to NBC as they develop new applications for your customers?

DB: The initial launch actually is a true infrastructure-as-a-services offering, which means it’s really intended for anybody who needs an environment to work in. So, for example, [if] somebody wants to do a software development project with our infrastructure service, we’ll be able to come in and provision a combination of CPU resources and memory and storage and so on and so forth and be able to load up their software development tool into that environment and start writing code. So, you can get started writing your software in the cloud with this service.

FCB: To be clear, this is software development for anything you want? It doesn’t have to be around the shared services that you guys provide. It could be an application that is very specific to one agency?

DB: That’s exactly right. In the shared services sense, when you get more to the business application, which are getting to the software-as-a-service type of an offering, but in order to have software-as-a-service enabled — it all sits on an infrastructure-as-a-service foundation. So we’re kind of incrementally getting to the software-as-a-service part and the first part is infrastructure-as-a-service, which is going live in the month of November. We’re real pleased about that.

FCB: Where do you see some of your biggest challenges and roadblocks that you’re going to have to overcome to not only get this up, because you’re pretty close, but to get people to use it [and] get people to really trust it?

DB: I think that’s what we’ve been very focused on. We identify it as the barriers to adoption. On the one hand, we believe that there is so much potential benefit that there’s going to be very high demand. This is really a new computing model that is going to take off. So, we’re looking at it from the vantage point and saying — what would cause people to be initially concerned that we’ll have to overcome? Security is a big one. [That is] generally the number one issue. There’s a whole different set of security issues that people are concerned about. Then, I think a second [concern] is, people don’t necessarily know what they can do with it. There’s a lot of confusion about cloud offerings.

Come back tomorrow when we’ll have more with Doug Bourgeois!

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