Former CIA IT guru: Everyone starting to learn about cloud

Listen to more of our chat with Bruce Hart.


Today we continue our conversation with Bruce Hart, COO of Terremark’s Government Group.

We left off discussing security, so we’ll start back up there:

On security and 100% protection

I don’t think anybody would be fool hearty enough to offer a 100% service level agreement (SLA) of a virtual machine sold as a service that is absolutely foolproof. What you do is basically multi-level security.

One of the things we do with Terremark’s enterprise cloud offering in the federal space, is we actually host it in a data center who’s security level is equal to that at Langley, Virginia or any good military base. We have armed guards, we have 200-foot setoffs, we have fences and all of the same features that any federal institution would require. In fact, we host classified organizations inside our data center.

Then, inside that, you have logical security. You run physical data centers that are essentially lights out — there’s no human access to the actual hardware. All of that’s highly controlled.

Beyond that, you do all of the things that are software-based, or otherwise hardware-based that are about information security. You do malware analysis, digital forensics, vulnerability assessment penetration testing, manage firewalls . . . the list goes on and on.

Public cloud v. Private cloud

There is such a thing as a public cloud.

[Terremark] has an offering called Virtual Cloud Express — or VCloud Express. It’s essentially a commodity cloud, much like Google’s or Amazon’s. You pay as you go, you take reference to shared resources, you don’t have much knowledge or concern about where those resources reside physically. The utility platform is enterprise-class. You sign it with a credit card, there’s no minimum, there’s no contract — you buy it by the minute or by the hour and use it as you will.

In my opinion, most federal agencies are not going to find a lot of utility in that kind of cloud computing. It’s just too risk-laden. It’s too amorphous. They’re not going to put their core missions on that kind of a platform — but there’s a different kind of cloud.

In Terremark’s case, it’s called the enterprise cloud, which is essentially a virtual, private cloud with a dedicated resource pool and the ability to burst above the amount of resource that you have bought. It has a physical device and private network integration. It supports multiple operating systems and I can take you into our data center and point to where it actually lives. So, we serve this up out of a physical fortress.

In fact, we have now moved beyond the dot gov phenomenon . . . at Terremark Federal Group and have recently been selling cloud as a foundation for actual production services inside large federal agencies. So, it’s beginning to happen.

Why everyone — not just IT managers — should learn about the cloud

I think mission managers and executive level decision makers all over the federal government are learning about it as we speak.

I’ve never seen so many symposiums dedicated to a single topic.

Vivek Kundra, the federal CIO, has been a change agent and an advocate for cloud computing from the federal perspective, and is acting in very — I think — effective ways to begin to push the message into federal decision making.

Again, it has a long way to go, but there are many opportunities for federal decision makers to learn about the cloud, to asses and weigh the risks versus the benefits, and — at the end of the day — they can come to a company like ours and just get it for free for 90 days, load it with whatever application they want and kick the tires.

There’s a lot of learning to be done, but it’s well underway.

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