Upcoming cloud events around town

December 4, 2009

Today we bring you news about events around town regarding the cloud.

Dec. 8, 2009
First up — we already told you about FedScoop’s Cloud Computing Shoot Out. It’s their second event that will focus on U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra’s five pillars of transparent government. This time, panelists will address concerns related to issues surrounding cloud portability, interoperability and security.

Some of the attendees:

  • Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon.com
  • Yousef A. Khalidi, Distinguished Engineer, Cloud Computing, Microsoft Corporation
  • Michael G. Hill, Vice President, Enterprise Initiatives IBM
  • Prasad L. Rampalli, Vice President, Intel Architecture Group, Intel Corporation
  • Eran Feigenbaum, Director of Security, Google Enterprise
  • Kaveh Vessali, Vice President of Public Sector Solutions, Salesforce.com
  • Jeff Bergeron, Chief Technologist, U.S. Public Sector, HP

The Shoot Out will be held at the Newseum and starts at 8 a.m. Register here.

Dec. 9, 2009
The Digital Government Institute presents its Cloud Computing Conference.

Chris Kemp, Chief Information Officer, Ames Research Center, NASA, will deliver the keynote, Government Cloud Computing for 2010: Moving Towards Efficient Operations.

Also, Chris Dorobek of DorobekInsider and Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief will moderate the panel How to Take Advantage of Cloud Computing Today.

You can register for it here.

Dec. 17, 2009
Also, AFCEA Bethesda Chapter presents IT Infrastructure Management as part of its monthly breakfast series.

The panel will focus on how cloud computing environments, such as NASA’s Nebula and DISA’s Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE), are changing the landscape of government IT infrastructure management, as well as helping to streamline system, network and storage management.

Speakers include:

  • Casey Coleman, Chief Information Officer, General Services Administration (moderator)
  • Chris Kemp, Chief Information Officer, NASA Ames Research Center
  • Alfred Rivera, Director, Computer Services Directorate, Defense Information Systems Agency
  • Keith Trippie, Executive Director, Enterprise System Development Office (ESDO), Office of the Chief Information Officer, Department of Homeland Security
  • Pete Tseronis, Associate Chief Information Officer, Department of Energy

Register here.

FCB will, of course, attend all of these events and report back, just in case you can’t make it.

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Short ‘n Sweet: A post on CGI’s latest white paper

September 23, 2009

“Seek service, not just servers”.

That’s the subtitle of the latest white paper from CGI, Practical Cloud Infrastructure for Federal Executives (pdf).

Since it’s linked (or ‘hypered’, as I like to say), I won’t break the whole paper down for you.

What I found interesting, however, in the introductory paragraph is the notion that cloud computing is “not an either-or proposition”.

The intro continues:

Cloud techniques can be applied outside an agency by a company offering excess capacity on its infrastructure, or by another agency that procures capacity on the government’s behalf. They can be applied by a company that hosts software applications and provides them as a service, or by an agency doing so as a shared-service provider for others. Alternatively, one or more agencies could decide to offer such services agencywide or across agencies as a private cloud provider.

In creating a business case, agencies must keep in mind that cloud computing is not a one-size-fits-all solution, especially to the many unique, sensitive, and enterprise level computing challenges federal agencies face.

The notion that IT managers — whether federal or not — have to think outside the box is nothing new, but the idea does seem to be growing more popular.

GSA CIO Casey Coleman reflected this last week when she talked about cloud computing and how her agency is moving ‘up’.

“The traditional model is that you have to run your own systems in your own data center or computer room, patch them, secure them, and upgrade them, make sure that there are not conflicts between different systems and be responsible for all that yourself. Cloud computing moves all of that into the cloud so you can focus configuring the applications and solutions in a way that delivers value quickly.”

CGI is currently working with GSA and other federal agencies on moving to the cloud, and Ralph Tufano, director managing technology services for CGI Federal and author of the paper, does an excellent job of outlining why agencies are moving to the cloud — and how it all began.

In his conclusion, he outlines criteria that he thinks agencies should use when looking for a cloud service provider:

  • The degree of visibility they offer into application and infrastructure services
  • The extent of governance they apply in managing cloud components
  • Their ability to offer service levels — for availability and response time — that apply
    to both infrastructure and applications

  • Whether their pricing truly refl ects all costs of cloud computing
  • Their ability to guarantee security for hosted applications
  • The degree to which they can synthesize and manage multiple components and
    service providers

Also — a note.

I have been told by Dorobek Insider author Chris Dorobek that he’s working on gathering links for a ‘cloud reader’. He had promised it to me yesterday, but then confessed that the project has gotten bigger than he anticipated.

I promise to bring you that list as soon as it is available!


Cloud Conversations on ‘GITSS’

September 22, 2009

We call it ‘GITSS’, but the real name of the show is Government IT Solutions Spotlight.

Federal News Radio’s own Chris Dorobek is joined by WTOP’s Adam Tuss to talk about all sorts of issues surrounding IT every Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Which, of course, inevitably brings us to the cloud.

This week, Chris and Adam talk about Nebula with Chris Kemp, CIO at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

If you don’t know anything about Nebula — NASA’s cloud platform — I urge you to listen. This is a fascinating interview about how a federal agency is using open source to work in a 2.0 world.

Also, I wanted to highlight a story published on our site last week by Internet Editor Emily Jarvis.

The Daily Debrief talked a lot about the cloud last week, and Emily took two excellent interviews — one with GSA’s Casey Coleman and Dave McClure; and one with Alan Murphy of F5 Networks — to discuss the new site apps.gov, among other things.

To fully understand the changes that Apps.gov brings to cloud computing, it is first important to have the most up to date version of what the cloud is and what it is supposed to do.

NIST defines cloud computing as “a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.”

Apps.gov is just the most recent development to the cloud. The website is the federal government’s cloud computing storefront.

I urge you to read more here.


In the Cloud on the Daily Debrief

September 17, 2009

This afternoon on the Daily Debrief, hosts Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris talked a lot about the cloud.

In the 3 p.m. hour, they talked with Teresa Carlson of Microsoft Federal.

In the 5 p.m. hour GSA’s Dave McClure and Casey Coleman joined the Daily Debrief in studio!

You can read all about both interviews by going to the Daily Debrief blog page.


GSA’s Casey Coleman at the Gov 2.0 Summit

September 17, 2009

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.