Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Scott Sobhani, Kevin Jackson

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Government Cloud

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Implementation of Cloud Computing Solutions in Federal Agencies

Part 3 - Cloud Transition Lessons Learned

(This is part 3 of the series entitled "Implementation of Cloud Computing Solutions in Federal Agencies". First published on Forbes.com, this series provides the content of a whitepaper I recently authored. A copy of the complete whitepaper will be available at NJVC.com starting September 7, 2011.)

While the benefits and value of the federal cloud computing policy can be debated, the world’s transition to cloud computing as an integral component of any IT infrastructure cannot be denied. The prudent government executive should, therefore, heed the lessons learned from the many private industry corporations that already have miles behind them on this journey.



When identifying a potential cloud computing project, one should always count on a multi-year transition. Organizations should always use a consistent cloud opportunity identification process to reduce the risk of project failure by leveraging data from successful cloud implementations. Clients need to determine set metrics (economic, operational and service) with direct linkage to specific mission requirement(s). Use of a gate-driven cloud adoption process designed to terminate failed projects early in the project lifecycle and deliver measurable capabilities within a quick timeframe (weeks—not years) is highly recommended.

A risk mitigation plan also must be formalized that addresses each of the following concerns:2

  • Loss of Governance. When moving to a cloud environment, clients relinquish control to the CP on a number of security-related issues. A gap in security defenses may also exist as service level agreements may not adequately address CP-related security requirements.
  • Portability. Issues related to provider lock in are outlined in the Challenges section of this white paper on page 5.
  • Isolation Failure. Multi-tenancy and collaboration are at the core of cloud computing. Resource isolation failure addresses mechanisms separating storage, memory, routing and reputation among different clients on the same cloud (e.g., guest-hopping attacks). However, it must be noted that attacks on these mechanisms are not as pervasive and much more difficult to attempt versus attacks on traditional operating systems.
  • Compliance Risks. Investments in certifications (e.g., industry standard or regulatory requirements) may be compromised or lost when moving to the cloud.
  • Management Interface Compromise. Security is an issue with client management interfaces with the public cloud provider. The reason? These services are provided via the internet and permit access to a larger set of resources than traditional operating systems. Security risk can dramatically increase when this is combined with remote access and web browser vulnerabilities.
  • Data Protection. It may be difficult for clients to effectively check the data-handling practices of their CPs to ensure critical and sensitive data is handled lawfully and ethically. This problem can be aggravated in cases of multiple transfers of data (e.g., between federated clouds). However, it must be noted that some CPs share information on their data-handling practices with clients and others offer certification summaries on their data processing and data security activities and their various security controls (e.g., Statement on Auditing Standards 70 Certification.
  • Insecure or Incomplete Data Deletion. As with most operating systems, when a request to remove a cloud resource is made, a true erase of data may not happen. Adequate or timely data deletion also may not be feasible (or undesirable from a client perspective) because extra copies of data are stored but not readily available or the disk to be destroyed also houses other data from other clients. When multi-tenancies and the reuse of hardware resources are added to the mix, this risk can increase.
  • Malicious Insider. Cloud architectures necessitate the creation of certain staff positions (e.g., CP system administrators and managed security service providers) that can be extremely high risk in terms of internal security threats.

Creating a Cloud Computing Roadmap for Federal Agencies First Steps
According to, GovCloud: Cloud Computing for the Business of Government, when a government agency is ready to undertake the implementation of a cloud-based solution, it must determine which IT services, business functions and processes to deploy in the cloud environment. A five-year roadmap should be created that includes the desired order to move each of the services to the cloud for each year during that time period.3 Requirements for each service to be deployed in the cloud should be developed and a cost/benefits analysis performed to establish the rationale why each targeted service should move to the cloud.

Implementation of a Low-Risk Test Case
A low-risk test case should be implemented prior to undertaking a wholesale transfer of services to the cloud.4 This is harder than it may sound as some IT services that may seem simple to deploy to the cloud are not so easy. Four questions should be asked (and answered) to decide which IT services are best suited to live in the cloud5:

  1. Can compliance requirements be balanced with other IT prioirities?
  2. Is this an IT function or service the agency has mastered?
  3. Can the agency use a standardized service?
  4. Is the test case easily implementable?

A misconception may exist that just because an application or service being deployed to the cloud isn’t mission critical, the process will be simple and straightforward. This is not always true. If the agency is new to the cloud and wishes to establish a private cloud it will take time to determine the appropriate split of responsibilities between the service provider and the agency’s IT team.6 Compliance and liability issues can also be tricky, as defining compliance conditions and establishing liability for intellectual property protection with cloud vendors reach well beyond the IT world—and, as such, with so many moving parts may take time to properly address and resolved.7 NIST has launched the U.S. Government Cloud Computing Business Case Working Group to assist agencies with the development of cloud-compatible user cases. Email, geospatial data exchange and services management are among the first user cases currently in development.

Additional Recommendations
The authors of GovCloud: Cloud Computing for the Business of Government also offer seven recommendations that must be considered during the development and implementation of an agency’s cloud roadmap:

  • Own the information, even if you own nothing else. An agency must claim its right to own the information even if it doesn’t own the infrastructure, application or service associated with that information. Any agency is liable for its information—regardless of where it lives—and some education will likely be needed about this fact among its IT team. While it may be unrealistic to prevent departments from provisioning their own cloud application, the agency must institute policies and procedures to ensure it can monitor how information deployed to the cloud is managed. As it is often hard to envision future uses of information, it also is recommended that agencies make sure cloud-dwelling data can be brought back into the enterprise if needed.
  • Don’t take terminology for granted. It is vital to ensure that important terminology is defined in the same way by the agency and the cloud service provider—room for different interpretation always exists. A review of information governance policies must take place to identify the areas of highest risk so authoritative definitions for vocabulary in these areas can be developed and adopted.
  • Hope for standards, but prepare to integrate. In short, the cloud is young and isn’t established enough to have developed standard specifications for platform interoperability and data exchange. Strategic groundwork for future data integration needs to be laid in the early stages of any movement to the cloud. Agencies must insist that their cloud service providers provide clear documentation on the data formats and schemas used for information storage in their systems.
  • Control cloud platform proliferation. Agencies should minimize the number of different cloud platforms that require support to limit information fragmentation and decrease the chance of a future huge integration effort. To the greatest extent possible, an agency’s IT team should help departments look for shared requirements in standardized business functions. The team can identify cloud platforms that meet these needs and consolidate the agency’s services on them, when possible. Not only will the ability to share information increase, this will result in greater leverage when negotiating contract terms and pricing.
  • Make the information “cloud ready.” Agencies that organize their data sets well enough for use across multiple platforms will be best positioned to take advantage of cloud services, and will be better able to deploy enterprise information to the cloud more easily.IT teams need to get into the habit of encrypting data into one common format (probably XML)—a process even more important if data moves through externally operated resources to the cloud.
  • Master solution integration. The shift to the cloud requires IT professionals to change their focus from owning and operating enterprise systems to becoming master information service integrators. In addition to linking legacy databases to SaaS, IT teams need to connect their private and public clouds to create a seamless technology environment that works like a single cloud custom-made for their specific enterprises.

More Stories By Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson, founder of the GovCloud Network, is an independent technology and business consultant specializing in mission critical solutions. He has served in various senior management positions including VP & GM Cloud Services NJVC, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and VP Program Management Office at JP Morgan Chase. His formal education includes MSEE (Computer Engineering), MA National Security & Strategic Studies and a BS Aerospace Engineering. Jackson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1979 and retired from the US Navy earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Airborne Logistics and Airborne Command and Control. He also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide. Kevin is the founder and author of “Cloud Musings”, a widely followed blog that focuses on the use of cloud computing by the Federal government. He is also the editor and founder of “Government Cloud Computing” electronic magazine, published at Ulitzer.com. To set up an appointment CLICK HERE

@CloudExpo Stories
SaaS companies can greatly expand revenue potential by pushing beyond their own borders. The challenge is how to do this without degrading service quality. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Adam Rogers, Managing Director at Anexia, discussed how IaaS providers with a global presence and both virtual and dedicated infrastructure can help companies expand their service footprint with low “go-to-market” costs.
The initial debate is over: Any enterprise with a serious commitment to IT is migrating to the cloud. But things are not so simple. There is a complex mix of on-premises, colocated, and public-cloud deployments. In this power panel at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships at Commvault; Dave Landa, Chief Operating Officer at kintone; William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interou...
You are moving to the Cloud. The question is not if, it’s when. Now that your competitors are in the cloud and lapping you, your “when” better hurry up and get here. But saying and doing are two different things. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Robert Reeves, CTO of Datical, explained how DevOps can be your onramp to the cloud. By adopting simple, platform independent DevOps strategies, you can accelerate your move to the cloud. Spoiler Alert: He also makes sure you don’t...
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ReadyTalk, a leading provider of online conferencing and webinar services, has been named Vendor Presentation Sponsor at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ReadyTalk delivers audio and web conferencing services that inspire collaboration and enable the Future of Work for today’s increasingly digital and mobile workforce. By combining intuitive, innovative tec...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
Your business relies on your applications and your employees to stay in business. Whether you develop apps or manage business critical apps that help fuel your business, what happens when users experience sluggish performance? You and all technical teams across the organization – application, network, operations, among others, as well as, those outside the organization, like ISPs and third-party providers – are called in to solve the problem.
Digital Initiatives create new ways of conducting business, which drive the need for increasingly advanced security and regulatory compliance challenges with exponentially more damaging consequences. In the BMC and Forbes Insights Survey in 2016, 97% of executives said they expect a rise in data breach attempts in the next 12 months. Sixty percent said operations and security teams have only a general understanding of each other’s requirements, resulting in a “SecOps gap” leaving organizations u...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, a Developer Advocate with IBM Cloud Data Services, discussed...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
The pace of innovation, vendor lock-in, production sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and managing risk… In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, discussed how CIOs are challenged finding the balance of finding the right tools, technology and operational model that serves the business the best. He also discussed how clouds, open source software and infrastructure solutions have benefits but also drawbacks and how workload and operational portability between vendors ...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...