Cloud use continues to grow, new report shows

August 27, 2011

While the number of agencies adopting cloud computing continues to grow so does the number of private sector companies, according to a new report.

72 percent of the IT professionals surveyed said they plan to increase their use of the cloud over the next year. Of those, 64 percent said they plan to spend at least five percent more on cloud in that same time period.

The survey was conducted by CompTIA, a non-profit IT trade association.

Some of the major reasons given for companies’ decisions to use the cloud:

  • 49 percent said it’s to cut capital expenditure costs on hardware and other systems,
  • 44 percent said it’s to cut costs overall,
  • 33 percent said it’s to add new features and capabilities they can’t get with other models.

The study also found medium-sized companies (revenues from $10 million to $99.9 million annually) are the ones using cloud the most. 64 percent of them have adopted cloud computing. 58 percent of large companies (revenues greater that $100 million) are using the cloud. Small-sized companies reported using cloud computing the least. Only 36 percent of them have jumped into the cloud.

Perceptions on cloud computing are also getting more positive. 72 percent of those surveyed said they felt more positive about the cloud this year than they did last year. 25 percent said their opinion on the cloud hasn’t changed, according to TMCnet.

542 “IT end-user customers, influencers, and solution providers” were surveyed by CompTIA from June 29 – July 13. The study is called, “Cloud Computing: Pulling Back the Curtain.”


Where will VanRoekel take cloud computing?

August 8, 2011

Steven VanRoekel was named the second-ever federal chief information officer this week. VanRoekel is no stranger to government. He most recently worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Before that he was at the Federal Communications Commission and Microsoft.

VanRoekel will be taking over where Vivek Kundra leaves off – leading an IT community that has been charged with helping the government save money via data center consolidation and using newer, innovative technologies like cloud computing. Under his leadership, the FCC was the first agency to take its full web presence to a FISMA-compliant cloud.

“What I really saw at the Federal Communications Commission is that this notion of re-imagining government in the context of the pace of innovation of private industry can be done in government,” VanRoekel said at a White House press briefing this week. “And it can be done in such a way that can save money, save resources and everything else. We were in lock step with Vivek’s team here on data center consolidation, our cloud-first policy and using tools like TechStat and all of that, even though we were an independent agency we were doing everything to close that productivity gap and make things better. I saw what could be done. Now I’m really excited about the ability to take that work and scale it to the broader notion of government and take the momentum and impact things broadly.”

VanRoekel will have one week on the job with Kundra before Kundra leaves for a fellowship at Harvard University, but it’s clear the work Kundra started will be expanded upon under the new CIO.

“Vivek’s work was really the first step in a larger rework of government IT,” VanRoekel said. “It lays an amazing foundation on which we can build a new set of phenomenon. Looking at things like more in the open government space, looking at shared services across agencies, looking at procurement, purchase and IT investment models are something I really want to explore. This is all very early thinking, of course. These are all things I’ve struggled with at the FCC, that we found creative ways to work in the context of government, and I’m excited that can actually scale pretty broadly.”

GAO issues RFI for cloud services

August 4, 2011

The Government Accountability Office is looking into possible cloud computing options. The agency recently issued a request for information for cloud services as it tries to enhance its IT systems in an age of decreasing budgets.

“In facing both an expected decrease in resources and the impending end of life for major elements of its existing infrastructure, GAO is looking for avenues to not merely maintain the existing environment but to take steps to transform it into an environment that is more cost-effective, sustainable and aligned with future business needs,” GAO wrote in the RFI.

GAO noted its multiple locations around the country, its massive amounts of data, and security as three of the main things vendors should consider when submitting their responses to the agency.

Interested companies have until 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 to reply to the RFI.

GAO is the latest in a long list of agencies interested in cloud computing. The government’s 25-point IT reform plan released in December called on agencies to identify three current systems to move to the cloud. The plan also called for agencies to follow a cloud-first policy when evaluating options for new IT systems.

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra has said he believes $20 billion of the $80 billion government spends on IT is a potential for migration to the cloud.

Agencies announce 78 cloud projects

May 30, 2011

The Federal CIO Council released Thursday a list of 78 cloud projects being completed by the 25 largest federal agencies.

Starting in December 2010, each agency was required to identify three projects to move to the cloud within 18 months as part of the Obama administration’s 25-Point Plan to Reform Federal IT Management.

Web hosting and email topped the list of cloud projects. Ten agencies are already using or plan to use the cloud for web hosting while 13 want to use the cloud for email.

Collaboration services, geospatial services, and capital planning software were also popular uses of the cloud amongst agencies.

The Department of Homeland Security announced its plans to move its public-facing websites to a public cloud at the Management of Change Conference earlier this month. More details about that plan were released in the CIO Council’s cloud document. DHS plans to migrate 50 percent of the websites it identified by June 2012. The agency believes this will reduce hosting costs by up to 10 percent.

Other agencies, such as the Education Department, are looking towards the private cloud. The agency said it will use a private cloud to offer infrastructure-as-a-service offerings internally. And, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it will save $50,000 per year by moving its capital planning tool (eCPIC) to the General Services Administration’s private cloud.

In addition to hosting its website, the Office of Personnel Management says it wants to use the cloud for website analytics (measuring the number of visitors, page views, time spent on the site, and website errors).

Other cloud projects include a FOIA case management system for the Social Security Administration and a collaboration services tool for the Commerce Department’s CIO Council.

Feds could save $20 billion using cloud computing

February 17, 2011

Approximately $20 billion of the $80 billion the government spends on information technology is a potential target for migration to the cloud, according to the new Federal Cloud Computing Strategy. The document was released by federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra February 8.

According to estimates, the departments of Homeland Security and Treasury have the most potential to save. Both agencies reported to the Office of Management and Budget they believe they could save over $2.4 billion each by using cloud computing. The Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, and Transportation believe they could save over $2 billion each (See graph below).

The strategy comes on the heels of a cloud-first policy instituted by the Obama administration as part of its 25-Point IT Plan.

“The cloud computing model can significantly help agencies grappling with the need to provide highly reliable, innovative services quickly despite resource constraints,” Kundra said.

According to the document, the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy was developed to:

  • Articulate the benefits, considerations, and trade-offs of cloud computing;
  • Provide a decision framework and case examples to support agencies in migrating towards cloud computing;
  • Highlight cloud computing implementation resources; and,
  • Identify federal government activities and roles and responsibilities for catalyzing cloud adoption.

The three-step framework laid out in the strategy gives agencies issues to think about when making the move to the cloud. It also offers an official definition of cloud computing as determined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

“Successful organizations carefully consider their broad IT portfolios and create roadmaps for cloud deployment and migration,” said Kundra.”These roadmaps prioritize services that have high expected value and high readiness to maximize benefits received and minimize delivery risk.”

The strategy also outlines the importance of security when determining whether something should be moved to the cloud. It points out six specific security considerations:

  • Statutory compliance to laws, regulations, and agency requirements;
  • Data characteristics to assess which fundamental protections an application’s data set requires;
  • Privacy and confidentiality to protect against accidental and nefarious access to information;
  • Integrity to ensure data is authorized, complete, and accurate;
  • Data controls and access policies to determine where data can be stored and who can access physical locations; and,
  • Governance to ensure that cloud computing service providers are sufficiently transparent, have adequate security and management controls, and provide the information necessary for the agency to appropriately and independently assess and monitor the efficacy of those controls.

The strategy also outlines security benefits of using the cloud including the ability to refocus resources on areas of higher concern, potential platform strength due to greater uniformity, improved resource availability and backup and recovery capabilities, and the ability to leverage alternate cloud services to improve the overall security of the agency.

Kundra said he expects all agencies to re-evaluate their technology sourcing strategies and determine where cloud computing may be possible as part of their budget process.

“Cloud computing can be implemented using a variety of deployment models – private, community, public, or a hybrid combination,” Kundra said.

As the number of cloud computing providers increases, Kundra said the General Services Administration will offer tools which agencies can use to compare the offerings from various companies.

(Courtesy of the Office of Management and Budget)

Forman leaving KPMG to work on cloud venture

January 25, 2011

If you haven’t heard yet, Mark Forman, former OMB administrator for e-government and IT, announced on Federal News Radio yesterday that he’s leaving KPMG.

He tells anchor Francis Rose, he’s going to work with a colleague on a cloud-computing initiative around grants filing.

No word on who the colleague is but we’ll update you as soon as we find out!

Navy, DHS, State make strides in the cloud

January 18, 2011

When it comes to reducing costs and wasteful spending at agencies, IT managers are being leaned on heavily to get the job done.

The Navy is moving ahead with its technology efficiency and consolidation initiative by putting the brakes on spending for new servers, server upgrades and data centers.

“We are reevaluating what all of our organizations want to do and why they want to do it, and is it consistent with our overall IT efficiency,” said Janice Haith, director of assessment and compliance for the Navy’s Information Dominance Directorate.

“Server purchases up to date may not have been efficient. They may not have bought servers that were sufficiently robust to handle virtualization. We need to do that. That may mean we have to buy some additional servers that can be virtualized, and some of our servers today are not in that state.”

Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu reports, the Navy set some targets for virtualization as well. It directs each of the Navy’s 23 Echelon II organizations – the commands in the organizational chart directly below the office of the Chief of Naval Operations – to develop plans to increase virtualization by 40 to 80 percent, and server utilization by 50 to 80 percent.

Various civilian agencies are also making strides. At a recent AFCEA-Bethesda breakfast panel, the State Department said its goal is to reduce the number of data centers in the United States from 11 to 2 over the next few years.

Cindy Cassil, the agency’s director of systems integration in the CIO office, says part of the way her agency will do that is by getting buy-in from business owners by offering services on a private cloud.

“Right now we are offering infrastructure-as-a-service,” Cassil said. “We are trying to work around the political issue about people still wanting to maintain their applications. The IT staffs are very powerful. They really advise the business they need to be involved. Right now, I would say we have 99.9 percent cooperation with our business side because they really like our model at this point. We offer the platform and the storage, and it’s free to them if they come in and virtualize.”

DHS’s Deputy CIO Margie Graves also spoke at the event. Graves said her agency is creating a test and development environment similar to one developed by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reports, her office wants to make it easier for DHS components to do rapid application development in a cloud environment. DHS also is working on two other cloud test and development environments using IBM’s Websphere and one for open source.