Role of federal CIO, CTO influences agencies on cloud

June 15, 2010

As you probably know, the General Services Administration is planning to move the entire agency’s email system to the cloud.

Federal News Radio has been telling you that this is not the first agency to make the move; the Interior Department has already consolidated 12 different systems and moved 80,000 users to the cloud.

From this news, it seems like cloud is no longer just a buzzword — it’s becoming part of the new business of government.

David Link is President and CEO of ScienceLogic, which conducted a survey of federal IT managers and workers earlier this year at FOSE.

Link says one of the many trends the survey showed is that cloud computing seems like it’s here to stay because of the immense presences of federal CIO Vivek Kundra and federal CTO Aneesh Chopra.

“This year is the first time that we’ve had a federal CIO, a federal CTO over all of government IT. One of the questions we asked is — has this new role impacted your IT operations? Actually 56 percent of the people that responded said it absolutely had impacted, and over 30 percent said they were seeing a major impact. Only about 20 percent said it was business as usual, so I think what that means is that the mandates from the top down actually are active, they’re very visible, the word’s getting down to people and engineers and operators that are working in the trenches. That’s a great, positive movement. It’s a great story going forward — that a new role in the government can actually impact the people who [are] literally . . . Doing the job each and every day.”

He also notes that there is a direct connection between cloud and virtualization, which is helping agencies adopt cloud.

“What we saw early on with virtualization [in] the first year of the survey is that a few people had thought it was a key initiative and/or they had projects in place. This last year the adoption has moved up from major hype to adoption — 80 percent of the respondents this year said they had virtualization initiatives. Frankly, virtualization is at the heart of cloud, because it’s all about shared and pooled resources where you can leverage a resource pool really effectively and have the agility that cloud offers where you can stand up IT resources very quickly. Vitualization is really one of the heart and soul key components of cloud offerings.”

It is slow-going, however. The survey showed that adoption of cloud, however, is still relatively low. But interest is high. Link says, in his opinion, this isn’t a plateau or fad, and likens the government’s response to cloud as the same when it comes to IPv6.

“From the very top, Vivek Kundra’s really a thought leader on the cloud . . . with NASA’s initiatives and FedRamp setting standards on cloud initiatives, they’ve really got a lot of people focused on this. As the largest buyer of IT in the world, where the government goes, vendors are going to go. What I see is, they’re really being smart about the approach. They’re trying to figure out where outsourcing to the cloud makes sense — where is it smart? Where can you get the advantages that the nimbleness and scale of the cloud brings straight to government IT operations.”

But what about the money? Will agencies see future funding for cloud computing initiatives? Link says many agencies were helped in the past by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and now agency heads and IT managers are looking at spending differently.

“Some of the huge projects that are multi-year, large awards may not be going as fast because they tend to take a long time, but I think what you’re seeing from a government IT perspective is more of a surgical approach to [solve problems]. There’s a huge initiative where Vivek Kundra has said, by the end of the year, he wants all agencies to put together and put forth their data center consolidation strategy and plan. Data center consolidation is really about figuring out how to collapse and provide more shared services, which is really going to drive adoption of the cloud and virtualization and these core technologies even faster because they’re a key linchpin to getting there.”


Cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt discusses cloud

January 29, 2010

White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt has been on the job long, but he’s already met with federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra and federal chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra and is gearing up to be the administration’s lead on cybersecurity.

He talked extensively about his new duties during his first public appearance as cyber czar at the State of the Net Conference earlier this week.

He discussed a variety of topics, including cloud, and, of course, we bring you his thoughts on that today.

“I’m a big proponent of moving thing to the cloud, but moving it right.

I think we have tremendous economic benefits in doing so, but we have to make sure that we do it where we have specific agreements from a legal perspective on what it is that we’re putting [in the cloud], where it’s going to be, what are the authentication mechanisms, all the technical controls around it, as well as the international legal control.

So, as I work with Vivek, who has sort of been driving that — and Aneesh — my role is to make sure, as we’re looking at the technology components, asking the critical questions about the security.

So I see a very close working relationship on that as we move more in that direction.

I think the second part of that, when we start looking beyond the government space, and we obviously have to do that, as we start looking at the private sector.

That’s where we can really partner up and make sure that the things we’re going to be requiring as far as — what your requirements are going to be when you put things in the cloud, what things do you put in there generally, what things do you put in encrypted, where is it residing.

That’s where we can really develop sort of a standard on how we operate in the cloud, both in the government and private sector perspective.”

Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reported more on Schmidt earlier this week. Read more:

Schmidt answers doubters as cyber czar

Privacy not taking back seat to security, cyberchief says