DoD, HUD, Interior ramp up cloud usage

July 13, 2011

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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HUD defines current and future cloud use

February 8, 2011

In our continuing quest to find out how agencies are currently using the cloud and how they plan to use it in the future, Federal News Radio caught up with Chris Neidermayer, deputy chief information officer for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In light of the Office of Management and Budget’s cloud-first policy, we asked Neidermayer where HUD is headed and if the agency is looking at the cloud for anything like email.

Neidermayer says, “Not yet. We’ve tried to narrow our focus to what we have the capacity to support. Those are things that are on the horizon. We have adopted the cloud-first approach where those services are available. We want to define why we couldn’t use them before we eliminate using them. We are in a private cloud for all of our infrastructure…We’re already there in that regard and that has helped us understand the value of those types of services.”

Hear more from Neidermayer and HUD CIO Jerry Williams. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller recently had them as guests on his Ask the CIO program.


HUD touts experience with cloud, will share lessons learned

March 9, 2010

You might have heard that Jerry Williams, CIO at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, reorganized his office since he took over in July, 2009.

He was a recent guest on Ask the CIO on Federal News Radio — but now shares some cloud insights with the Fed Cloud Blog, saying that HUD is one of the first agencies to move into the cloud.

“We do business today in a cloud, and we will certainly continue to do that. There’s a lot of effort and a lot of movement going on across government in cloud computing and we’re aligning ourselves with those efforts. We’re going to continue to do the kinds of things that we need to do to reduce our costs and enhance our efficiency here at HUD.”

Williams brought up the HUD Information Technology Services contract — HITS — which is about five years old now. He said many don’t automatically think ‘cloud’ when they think ‘HITS’ — but he wants everyone to know that HITS is cloud.

Since his agency has been working in the cloud for so long, he said he does have advice for other agencies when it comes to looking at cloud computing.

“We’re boning up on [cloud], so that whenever the appropriate opportunity presents itself for a recompete, we understand very clearly the pros and cons of doing business in that environment. For us, it’s a matter of doing business in a private cloud versus a public cloud. So, we need to figure out what the pluses and minuses were for doing it in that environment before we take the next step in this process.”

He added that there are always lessons to be learned, but that doesn’t mean that other CIO’s shouldn’t pick up the phone.

“Certainly, we’re positioning ourselves to be able to tell a story about our experiences in doing cloud computing, albeit, ours will be in a private cloud environment.”