Justice offers tips for transitioning to the cloud

January 24, 2011

When the Recovery Act passed, the Justice Department knew it would need to upgrade its IT infrastructure to keep up with the demand that was about to be placed on its systems.

“We knew we could not support the transactions that would hit us, so we had to look at a solution,” said Angel Santa, Deputy Chief Information Officer in the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs. Santa spoke on Federal News Radio’s Federal Tech Talk show.

That’s when the agency decided to go to the cloud. Justice decided to stay in house after determining it had the resources to develop a private cloud to fit its needs.

“[It’s] very important, if you decide to do it in house, that you have the people, you have the skill sets. How do you prioritize them? How do you keep them engaged and communicate and how do you help them grow? If they don’t have the skills, how do you have the training in place? How do you communicate and have the vendors at the table with you?”

Santa tells Federal Tech Talk host John Gilroy the agency’s decision to stay in house was about security and resources.

“You always have to look at your business and the security of your business. And what makes sense for your business and what makes sense long term. We’re still wrestling with making sure we have a secure environment out in a public cloud and having access to that secure information. How do you support it? Do the vendors have the right security clearances to support that? As that continues to evolve, I’m sure there will be more offerings and systems moving out to the public.”

Santa doesn’t rule out working with a hybrid cloud in the future.

As for the benefits of the cloud, Santa sees many of them as well.

 “We have other systems in the OJP business that will capitalize on this, let alone the energy savings, let alone the ability to maintain a more stable and more homogenous environment.”

Listen to Santa’s entire interview on Federal Tech Talk.

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Recovery.gov discusses cloud success

December 20, 2010

In 2009, Recovery.gov was created as a way to follow the money being handed out through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Michael Wood, director of Recovery.gov, told Federal News Radio using the cloud has been a major contributing factor to the website’s success, starting with the redesign of Recovery.gov.

Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud was chosen to host the site during the redesign process.

“The big challenge for the federal government was would it be run in the U.S.? Amazon gave us some assurances it would be. So the servers that they’re using are in the U.S. and we moved to the cloud.”

The transition happened in record time. It only took about 12 weeks to move into the cloud. Wood admits however that his agency didn’t have as many security concerns as other agencies might have moving into the cloud.

Steal my data. I’m all about transparency. There is an advantage there. There are a lot of federal people that there are security concerns. There are privacy concerns. We had less of that so we had an advantage of being able to move very rapidly. But that’s been very, very successful. It gives us tremendous flexibility. You can spin up servers very quickly…If we need to change or if there’s a problem we can actually spin up a new server in about five minutes so that’s worked out very, very well.

The success of Recovery.gov could mean more federal websites just like it in the future. In fact, one has already been created and is being run by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board – the same group that runs Recovery.gov.

It’s called FederalTransparency.gov and was created as a way to track federal spending. Currently the site is tracking the grants given out under the Education Jobs Fund.

Listen to Michael Wood on Federal Tech Talk.


In case you missed it: This week in cloud news

December 11, 2009

What happened this past week when it comes to the cloud?

Today, we answer that question.

On Tuesday

On this week’s Federal Tech Talk on Federal News Radio, host John Gilroy talks with Lynn McNulty, Director of Goverment Affairs at (ISC)2. The two talk about a variety of topics, but during the third portion of the show, they devote about 10 minutes specifically to cloud. We encourage you to listen to the whole program, but wanted to point out exactly where the “cloud talk” was.

On Wednesday

We talk a lot about what you should move into the cloud, but what shouldn’t you move? On In Depth, host Francis Rose talked with Mark Forman, a partner with KPMG and former Administrator for E-Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget. Listen to the whole interview and read the article here.

On Thursday

OMB is going to require agencies to develop an alternative analysis discussing how they could use cloud computing for all major technology projects for the fiscal 2012 budget. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller brings us a wealth of information in this article.