Don’t fear the cloud, Kundra says

August 1, 2011

Fears about the security of cloud computing are exaggerated, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said at a forum on Capitol Hill last week.

“A lot of people are sort of driving this notion of fear around security,” Kundra said, according to Computer World. “And the reason I think that’s been amplified, frankly, is because it preserves the status quo.”

The conference was organized by Kundra and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) to address the future of cloud computing in the federal government.

While security remains a major concern and, in some cases, a roadblock to public cloud adoption, agencies like the Department of Homeland Security are bucking the trend. DHS announced in May plans to move its public websites to the public cloud.

“I am a believer that we are going to, over the next few years, really solve a lot of the cybersecurity concerns that we have with cloud-based services,” DHS CIO Richard Spires said at the forum, according to Computer World.

Kundra also believes the shift to cloud computing will mean stiffer competition among government contractors. According to Federal Times, “Kundra said the administration wants to ‘introduce Darwinian pressure’ into the market to ensure that companies win government IT contracts because they provide greater efficiencies, not because they’ve mastered the procurement process.”

Saving money has been a major topic of conversation on Capitol Hill in recent weeks as lawmakers sparred over raising the debt ceiling.

During the forum, Sen. Carper said the use of cloud computing and smarter IT overall is one of the biggest ways to save money in government.

“We need to look into every nook and cranny of the federal government and find better results for less money . . . One of the great ways you can provide better service for less money is to do IT well and to do it smart,” Carper said, according to NextGov.

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DoD’s cloud e-mail plot thickens

May 5, 2011

Just how many Defense Department employees will eventually be using a cloud-based e-mail service depends who you ask.

Maj. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, the Defense Information Systems Agency’s vice director, told reporters Tuesday, selling the Navy and Air Force on its cloud-based email system is a matter of when, not if. However, Hawkins admits, “If you talk to the services, it’s if. We’re in those negotiations with all of them right now. The ‘ifs’ are contingent on the pricing and the delivery of the capability.”

Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu reports all eyes are on the Army’s transition to the DISA cloud, and decisions by the other agencies will likely be made based on the success or failure of the Army’s move.

So far, the Army has transferred 20,000 of its 900,000 users to the cloud. Army chief information officer Mike Krieger says the Army is stepping up its transition timeline and, with the help of a new tool, will transition approximately 1,000 users a night into the new DISA system.

However, the Army’s migration to the DISA cloud was dealt a potential setback by Congress (also on Tuesday).

The House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee cut funding for the Army’s email project in its markup of the 2012 budget by 98 percent until a business case analysis of the program can be completed.

The bill must still pass the full House and Senate to become law.

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DoD doesn’t rule out commercial cloud vendors

April 12, 2011

When it comes to using the cloud, Defense Department chief information officer Teri Takai says a private cloud will help her department achieve the highest level of security. But she didn’t rule out using commercial cloud services completely.

During a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities hearing last week, NextGov reports Takai said, “There will be instances where we [can] use commercial cloud providers…[if] they meet our standards.”

According to NextGov, Takai did not specify which types of cloud services DoD would consider purchasing from commercial vendors.