I had the opportunity in the early spring of 2012, to put together and moderate a panel on “Cloud Trends In The Federal Market” while I was at GovWin.com.
The federal government’s move to the cloud is ongoing. We see both the private and public sector using cloud technology to improve storage and data accessibility. The issue of data security, as with all platforms, remains of vital importance. In the case of government adoption, it is not just security and technology that are issues, but culture and process as well.
During this Virtual Roundtable Webinar, the distinguished panel of experts that I organized explore the challenges government agencies and contractors are facing with adoption of cloud technology, as well as the opportunities for 2012 and the government’s own success stories.
Michael Hackmer, Senior Community Manager, GovWin, Moderator
Steven A. Coles, Vice President, Sales, VMware
George “Mel” Hurley, Director, Information Assurance Solutions, Wyle
Stanley Kaczmarczyk, FAS/ITS Director of the Cloud Computing Service, General Services Administration
Russ Langford, Managing Director, EMC Consulting
Kevin Plexico, Vice President, Federal Information Solutions, Deltek
View the full, hour-long archived video:
With so much buzz around cloud computing and server security, I went where GovWin, the government and countless other companies go to get answers: Carpathia Hosting.
Michael Fox, director of public sector for Carpathia, and I had a chance last month to sit down and talk at their headquarters in Dulles, Virginia. I asked what he thinks about government cloud initiatives and what Carpathia is doing in the government space.
Is the cloud a fad? Is cost efficiency a driver for success? What about security? Hear Fox’s response in the embedded video below:
- On the General Services Administration: “GSA, I believe is really trying to blaze a trail… GSA has really gotten out in front to, in effect, answer the question, ‘How do you certify a cloud environment?'”
- “The real long pole in the tent is whether the government will adopt [the cloud] because of the security and data integrity perspective. If we can answer that question, and they are comfortable with putting those environments into these outsourced solutions, I think it will be a snowball rolling down the hill.”
- “I do agree that cloud is more complex. The management of it is more complex, you have more areas to focus on. However, in general, you’re doing the same things in the cloud as you’re doing in a dedicated or in-house environment.”
Background on Carpathia Hosting
Carpathia Hosting is a leading provider of managed hosting services, delivering secure, reliable and compliant IT infrastructure and management for some of the world’s most demanding enterprises and federal agencies.
I was aware of Carpathia before I joined GovWin.com, and even prior to my days as a technology reporter for dcTechSource. Carpathia has a strong reputation in the Washington, D.C., region as a hosting and cloud provider and technology leader.
The company was founded in 2003, and has grown to provide enterprise hosting solutions including collocation, managed services and cloud computing.
For more information, visit Carpathia Hosting at: http://carpathia.com
During the course of our Executive Roundtable on government cloud initiatives last week, we polled the audience with three questions designed to provide some perspective on how government contractors view the cloud today.
Poll Question 1: NIST’s Definition of the Cloud
Our first poll was fueled by the discussion around what the cloud meant to the government and government contractors. To help answer the question “What is it?”, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) had defined the “cloud” as:
“…a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e g , networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
NIST went on to identify five essential characteristics of cloud computing: on-demand service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service.
Of course – the question we asked everyone was: “Do you agree with the NIST definition?”
According to the results (see chart below), a vast majority of those attending the Executive Roundtable believed the government got it right. Only a few thought the definition was either too narrow or too broad.
Poll Question 1: Do you agree with the NIST Definition of the cloud?
Poll Question 2: Deploying Cloud Solutions
With a clear understanding of the cloud established, we launched a second poll designed to get an idea of what government contractors participating in the Webinar had done in terms of deploying cloud solutions.
According to the results, a large percentage had deployed a cloud solution – but only in the private sector. Just a small number had experience delivering a cloud environment to a government customer:
Poll Question 2: Have you conducted a cloud deployment?
Poll Question 3: Cloud Security:
Finally, we decided to ask the audience whether or not they felt moving to the cloud was going to make the data our government collects and stores — as well as the services it provides — more secure, less secure or about the same it is today.
The results were nearly even across the board. While a slight majority thought there would be no difference (a throwback to Bill Perlowitz’s comment during the Webinar that a bad app outside the cloud will be a bad app inside the cloud), about one-third of respondents thought the cloud would make government IT more secure, and one-third less secure.
Poll Question 3: Cloud Security
What Do the Results Mean?
Based on the polls and the discussion during the Roundtable, a few points seem apparent:
- Cloud specialists all know what the cloud is. If a government contractor is confused about what a cloud platform ultimately looks like and how it operates, they should start learning by examining key cloud resources.
- The government may be a slow adopter of cloud solutions / technology, but that does not mean the playing field is completely level. Companies with experience deploying solutions in the private sector will have an edge over those who are still working towards their first deployments.
- Lastly, despite the advances in technology – security remains a hot-button issue. Close to a third of all Webinar attendees believe that the cloud will be less secure than current security options. An even larger number see no real tangible security benefits at all. One thing to keep in mind as the cloud debate continues is that the longer security remains a concern, the longer cloud adoption will continue progressing slowly.
If you didn’t have a chance to view the Executive Roundtable Webinar, or want a refresher, watch the full, archived video on-demand.
As part of the Virtual Executive Roundtable series that we started at GovWin.com, we have put together two outstanding panels of experts – one to cover the government’s cloud initiatives (February 16) and another to address the new programs and efforts to enhance cybersecurity (March 9).
But going beyond forming a panel of leading cloud and cybersecurity speakers, we decided to try something a little different with these roundtables. Instead of having the audience sit and watch a long series of slides and data, we have decided to get more people involved and help drive the flow of the conversation – before, during and after the event.
The process is simple. Just register for the events (registration is free). And then post questions in our Q&A forum. When the event is LIVE, submit additional questions and answer polls. Then following the event we will keep the conversation going with our panel, provide an event recap and video, and explore the topics and issues we need to address next.
TO THE CLOUD! GOVERNMENT CLOUD INITIATIVES