DoD, HUD, Interior ramp up cloud usage

Agencies across the federal government are increasing their use of the cloud. Over the past week, Federal News Radio has covered several agencies moving in that direction including Defense, Interior, and Housing and Urban Development.

The Defense Contract Management Agency told Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller moving to zero client computers is one of its top priorities. Jacob Haynes, DCMA’s chief information officer, said it’s the next step beyond thin client computers.

“A zero client device is the size of a small book and it sits on the desk and you plug all peripherals in to it, instead of having a hard drive or CD-ROM drive, all the things that forces mass in regular computers is done in the cloud,” he said. “That includes the storage, the computing power and anything else. The device is just there messaging.”

At the same time, the Interior Department announced its plans to transform its IT infrastructure. Interior says the four-year project will save $500 million from 2016-2020. Part of those money-saving efforts come in the form of cloud utilization, according to a separate report from Miller.

“We currently manage 13 stand-alone email systems at DOI, a result of the dispersed nature of the agency and a legacy of piecemeal development of IT at the bureau level,” agency CIO Bernard Mazer wrote in a CIO.gov blog. “We are in the process of consolidating these systems into a unified, cloud-based email service that will support 85,000 users across DOI. DOI.gov will also be moving to a cloud platform in order to better accommodate the five-million visitors per year who use the site. Of course, both of these initiatives will lead to cost savings, but the cloud also promises better service, such as guaranteed 99.9 percent uptime for both projects.”

After outsourcing much of its network infrastructure, HUD says it now wants to put it in the cloud.

“What is not there in a managed services contract is the business model of cloud. We do not have the elasticity. Prices do not go down when we use less,” Chief Technology Officer Mark Day said at a recent conference. “Managed services is what you might consider the high water mark price. If we ever bought that much of the infrastructure, we pay for that much of the infrastructure. In a cloud, you go up and down as your needs change. That is really what we are doing. It’s not a technical move for us. It’s a business model move in the procurement realm.”

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