Click here to close now.


Government Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Kevin Jackson, Bob Gourley, David H Deans

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, Government Cloud

@CloudExpo: Article

Is Cloud Computing for Real?

Summary of Session by CIO of the National Reconnaissance Office at Cloud Expo New York

In October 2009, Enterprise Cloud Computing was considered bleeding edge technology by many but there was something that seemed different about its value potential and adoption rate. For CIOs, it seemed a chance to provision affordable infrastructure quickly, alleviating delays to mission critical deliveries. Federal CIOs interest in Enterprise Cloud Computing was limited to innovators and early adopters. Two years later, where does Enterprise Cloud Computing stand? Is it for real?

Today, Cloud Computing is on the Gartner® technology hype curve in the “peak of inflated expectations” category. Its placement on the curve—even though we all should prepare for the dreaded “trough of disillusionment” dip—indicates Cloud Computing is, indeed, for real. There are other indicators of note also. CIOs across the board are focused on the success Cloud Computing can deliver. Vendors are sparring with each other to obtain space in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. The Federal CIO has issued a “Cloud First” policy and published the first Federal Cloud Computing Strategy. And, it’s been featured in the hit comic strip Dilbert—a pop culture indicator worth noting!

Federal agencies need IT solutions that can handle current missions—from supporting counter-terrorism to combating proliferation of weapons of mass destruction--and we need IT that can handle global surge demands based on fluctuating world events and natural disasters. Federal IT must be efficiently adaptable and properly affordable to meet evolving mission needs. It must be capable of keeping pace with the exponential growth of data, including the increasing complexities of maintaining legal and regulatory compliance of information management and assurance.

As a CIO, building your cloud strategy can be confusing as there are many options to consider before making a decision. Cloud Computing can deliver within a variety of characteristics. Each CIO will need to consider the characteristics of primary importance in order to properly center a strategy. For example, determining your needs for rapid elasticity, on-demand self-service, global access, and payment options will be necessary to develop the right strategy. The second consideration for a CIO is just how far up the stack she wants to go. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) each deliver different features and capabilities for your business. You can develop a plan that includes some or all of the Services. Finally, a CIO needs to think about the deployment model(s) that best fit her business (Public, Private, Community, and Hybrid).

Cloud Computing isn’t perfect; there are concerns to manage and mistakes to avoid. The number one concern remains Security and that’s given rise to Enterprise Cloud Computing deployments and private clouds. But, there are other concerns also such as the skill set of your workforce, requirements for compliance verification, legacy baseline migration, and costs. For example, depending on the percentage of your legacy that can successfully transition to Cloud, your cost-benefit equation may not provide sufficient return for the investment.

Common mistakes to avoid include: assuming Cloud Computing is for everything; planning for a “light switch” migration from legacy to new; selecting only one vendor and creating early lock-in; underestimating the cultural change required by your own IT team; and implementing a bunch of mini- clouds in your existing data closets.

We’ve spent 18 months developing the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) IT strategy and roadmap; we gave it a lot of thought but it is just an example and not the only way to move forward. Our cloud delivery model will be private first and then a hybrid of private and community (with our Intelligence Community colleagues). We’re moving our way up the stack starting with IaaS and PaaS first, then SaaS. And, we are focused on a phased revolutionary approach—building a new environment as a green field.

Our planning has highlighted the need to focus attention on management of the NRO Cloud. Defining specific roles and responsibilities, articulating cloud service level agreements between the provider and users, adjusting organizational constructs to fit the Cloud business model, and streamlining configuration control processes to meet the rapid timelines of provisioning must all be addressed if success is to be achieved. Our planning also indicated the NRO mission would not be served by a CPU-based commodity cloud alone. We also need a high-performance cloud that is GPU-based and we are learning there are industry gaps in this area.

The NRO Cloud strategy won’t be too different from how other Federal agencies adopt Cloud Computing. Most agencies processing classified information are focused on private clouds versus public clouds for security and information management/assurance reasons. Over time, though, I believe federal community clouds will emerge, as will private hybrid clouds, which allow agencies to maintain a private space as well as take advantage of federal community clouds.

The NRO Cloud will be implemented in four phases over the course of 6 years. It’s a complex migration necessarily paced to meet federal budget processes, existing acquisition commitments, and mission service imperatives.

  • Phase 1 – Test It. We have multiple small cloud pilots ongoing covering commodity/utility cloud, high performance cloud, and big data cloud. We are focused on streamlining information assurance compliance, developing appropriate policies and processes, and defining standards.
  • Phase 2 – Prove It. In this phase, we will merge successful elements from Phase 1, finalize policies, prototype management and governance changes necessary for cloud provisioning models, refine standards, realign programs as needed, and ensure enterprise foundation capabilities meet mission demands.
  • Phase 3 – Use It. Scaled deployment of the enterprise Cloud will occur. Applications will develop specific transition and migration plans generally aligned with planned refresh cycles. Service management processes and new centralized information assurance approaches will be refined for long-term success.
  • Phase 4 – Exploit It. The NRO Cloud will emerge as the primary Enterprise Infrastructure Services Provider with robust measures of effectiveness, performance accountability, and service transparency. New mission and business applications will emerge through innovations in Cloud Computing and federation with the IC Cloud will be achieved moving the NRO into a hybrid environment.

In summary, the time for Cloud Computing is now. All of the indicators are in place to suggest a rapid and successful migration to this newest generation of IT architecture. It is not a one-size-fits-all migration. CIOs will need to spend time exploring Cloud Computing solutions to find the combination that best responds to specific mission and business needs. Maintaining awareness of the concerns and mistakes is absolutely necessary and security remains the top concern. Security is a huge focus for IT vendors and creative, robust solutions will be constantly emerging to reduce concerns. Large organizations will increasingly turn to Enterprise Cloud Computing strategies to achieve efficiencies of Cloud Computing while reducing risks of exposure for intellectual property, customer privacy, and competitive strategies.

More Stories By Jill Tummler Singer

Jill Tummler Singer is CIO for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)- which as part of the 16-member Intelligence Community plays a primary role in achieving information superiority for the U.S. Government and Armed Forces. A DoD agency, the NRO is staffed by DoD and CIA personnel. It is funded through the National Reconnaissance Program, part of the National Foreign Intelligence Program.

Prior to joining the NRO, Singer was Deputy CIO at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where she was responsible for ensuring CIA had the information, technology, and infrastructure necessary to effectively execute its missions. Prior to her appointment as Deputy CIO, she served as the Director of the Diplomatic Telecommunications Service (DTS), United States Department of State, and was responsible for global network services to US foreign missions.

Singer has served in several senior leadership positions within the Federal Government. She was the head of Systems Engineering, Architecture, and Planning for CIA's global infrastructure organization. She served as the Director of Architecture and Implementation for the Intelligence Community CIO and pioneered the technology and management concepts that are the basis for multi-agency secure collaboration. She also served within CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
Elad Israeli 06/20/11 08:48:00 AM EDT

I can relate to many points you list here. I come from the business intelligence space, where the Cloud and SaaS are way overly hyped - mainly due to some startups in the space.

@ThingsExpo Stories
“The Internet of Things transforms the way organizations leverage machine data and gain insights from it,” noted Splunk’s CTO Snehal Antani, as Splunk announced accelerated momentum in Industrial Data and the IoT. The trend is driven by Splunk’s continued investment in its products and partner ecosystem as well as the creativity of customers and the flexibility to deploy Splunk IoT solutions as software, cloud services or in a hybrid environment. Customers are using Splunk® solutions to collect and correlate data from control systems, sensors, mobile devices and IT systems for a variety of Ind...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
As enterprises capture more and more data of all types – structured, semi-structured, and unstructured – data discovery requirements for business intelligence (BI), Big Data, and predictive analytics initiatives grow more complex. A company’s ability to become data-driven and compete on analytics depends on the speed with which it can provision their analytics applications with all relevant information. The task of finding data has traditionally resided with IT, but now organizations increasingly turn towards data source discovery tools to find the right data, in context, for business users, d...
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless Thingies, will discuss and demonstrate how devices and humans can be integrated from a simple clust...
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 150 developers, designers, quality assurance engineers, project manage...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, will discuss the impact of technology on identity. Should we federate, or not? How should identity be secured? Who owns the identity? How is identity ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgeniakhela will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgeniakhela is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dramatically improve productivity, reduce collaboration costs, and increase the overall enterprise value by bringing ...
Sensors and effectors of IoT are solving problems in new ways, but small businesses have been slow to join the quantified world. They’ll need information from IoT using applications as varied as the businesses themselves. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Meike, Distinguished Engineer, Director of Technology Innovation at Intuit, will show how IoT manufacturers can use open standards, public APIs and custom apps to enable the Quantified Small Business. He will use a Raspberry Pi to connect sensors to web services, and cloud integration to connect accounting and data, providing a Bluetooth...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.