By Dick Stark
I attended the AFCEA Cloud Computing Technology Symposium in Washington, D.C. this week where RightStar was one of the small business sponsors. The objective was to update industry on the progress made to date by Government Agencies towards the Federal cloud first policy. The discussion centered around agency cloud road maps, cloud acquisition strategies and contract vehicle considerations. One thing was clear: cloud computing is gaining tremendous momentum in the Federal space. What wasn’t so clear is the timing and direction of specific cloud initiatives.
Scott Renda, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of E-Government and IT, OMB, kicked off the sessions by describing how much fun he was having shaping the government’s cloud direction and strategy. He remarked, “Cloud computing is dramatically altering the way government does business by fundamentally changing the relationships between providers and users.” He pointed out the gains that GSA and USDA have made on two similar cloud based email programs in improving email collaboration, reliability and lowering costs. He was also excited about Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings especially as it related to on-going data center consolidation initiatives. Finally, Scott described the role of FedRAMP and NIST in establishing a set of security requirements, processes, and framework for cloud computing.
The first panel discussion was led by Susie Adams of Microsoft with panelists from HUD, DHS, and the VA. She opened by describing three paths cloud computing is taking in the Federal space: IaaS, which provides virtualization, servers, and storage, in the cloud; Platform as a Service (PaaS) which is IaaS plus, the operating system, middleware, and data; and finally Software as a Service (SaaS) which offers cloud based applications delivered from the cloud. The panelists discussed the cloud direction their agencies were taking with most focused on speed and quick wins. One panelist asked the attendees if anyone thought that five years from now whether any applications would still be delivered in an on-premise version. No one raised a hand.
Next, Casey Coleman, CIO, GSA briefed the attendees on her agency’s successful cloud based email project and provided specific examples of cost savings and productivity improvements. The final panel discussion revolved around selecting the right GWAC to procure cloud solutions with the emphasis on acquisition speed. I asked what other cloud based applications government agencies were targeting other than email and IaaS. There was a long silence which told me that the cloud application space is wide open.
Last week RightStar teamed with BMC and Salesforce for a large service management cloud based SaaS opportunity for a government agency. The agency needed to consolidate several service desks into one and get everything running in the cloud in 90 days or less—a perfect fit for the cloud. We proposed an incident, problem, change, and asset management solution using Remedyforce. Win, lose or draw, as evidenced by the recent solicitation (and the symposium), Cloud computing is gaining significant traction in the Federal space.