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Government Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Kevin Jackson, Pat Romanski, Bob Gourley

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Cloud Computing and DoD

There is an Enterprise Cloud Service Broker there to make things better for all

You don’t have to convince government IT leaders of the smart new business models, efficiencies and performance enhancements available with cloud computing. Like IT professionals everywhere, federal technologists get it.

But things are different in the federal community for many reasons. One is the way the nation governs IT, which flows directly from our Constitution (the executive branch has key roles and a central authority (the President), but the Legislative branch funds, and of course passes laws, while the Judicial branch interprets and rules on those laws). Combined those factors make the IT world in the federal space very different. Then on top of that, federal IT leaders serve some very unique missions. So when it comes to new approaches to IT, like Cloud Computing, it can take a while to get moving.

The good news is that federal IT leaders have been reasoning through this for quite a while. Thought has been put into ways to reduce risk in cloud computing, for example, and the OMB has issued guidance on a Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).  And the federal CIO has issued lots of implementation guidance.  NIST has provided security guidelines and reference architectures.

And for DoD, in the summer of 2012 the department designated a primary point of contact in the department with the responsibility to manage the use, performance and delivery of cloud services. This is the DoD Enterprise Cloud Service Broker. The ESCB is to connect internal department consumers of external cloud capabilities through a process that matches requirements to capabilities.

Just last week the ESCB issued a press release declaring they have reached their Initial Operating Capability (IOC), a key milestone for a DoD organization.

Here is the press release:

http://disa.mil/News/PressResources/2013/Cloud-Broker

DISA ACHIEVES INITIAL OPERATIONAL CAPABILITY AS DOD ENTERPRISE CLOUD SERVICE BROKER

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. — The Defense Information Systems Agency recently achieved initial operational capability in its mission as the cloud broker for the Department of Defense.

DOD CIO Teri Takai designated DISA as the DOD cloud broker in June 2012. In this role, DISA will enable the Department to obtain secure, dependable, resilient, multi-provider cloud computing capabilities that will enhance mission effectiveness, improve IT efficiencies, and meet Joint Information Environment objectives.

Reaching IOC means the Agency has the framework in place for executing this mission. To date, DISA has established a process for gathering and assessing mission partner requirements, evaluation criteria for service offerings to include recommended contract requirements, criteria for matching mission partner requirements to the appropriate offerings, an Enterprise Cloud Service Catalog, and a cloud security model.

Leveraging the cloud security model, DISA has performed cybersecurity assessments of the two commercial cloud services that have been granted Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) Joint Authorization Board Provisional Authorizations. Approval for use of these two commercial cloud services for information approved for public release is imminent. DISA continues to conduct security assessments to expand alternatives for future cloud service offering.

An important element of the cloud broker effort is to facilitate contracting and acquisition by developing model contract language that supports implementation of the cloud security model and appropriate use of commercial cloud services. This work is ongoing and will make it easier for mission partners to ensure they have considered all the appropriate areas when they contract for cloud services.

In the coming months, DISA will evolve and further automate the cloud service request process, incorporate new offerings into the service catalog, and enhance the security model in order to further accommodate mission partner requirements.

Mission partners can request cloud services at: http://disa.mil/Services/DoD-Cloud-Broker/Cloud-Service-Request. More information is available on the Cloud Broker web page at: http://disa.mil/Services/DoD-Cloud-Broker.

Posted April 16, 2013

Note: If our research is correct, the first two firms to be certified by FedRamp and now the ESCB are CGI Federal and Autonomic Resources LLC. The reason only two firms have reached this certification, as far as we can tell, is that this is avery hard achievement. Over 80 other companies have certification in process, and we know more will follow now that these two champions of firms have made it.

Hear are some thoughts on the above:

1) If you are in a tech firm that provides or integrates cloud computing capabilities, keep moving along the FedRamp process. This is an important path to being able to serve in the government. Also keep learning about the DoD ESCB, you will need to keep them informed of your capabilities if you want to do business with the government. The bad news is that with DISA canceling their major customer conferences it will be a little bit harder to do that. But keep your ears to the ground and don’t be afraid to send white papers into DISA for forwarding to the ESCB spelling out your cloud capabilities.

2) If you are an IT or business professional in DoD agencies or the Services you should track the ESCB for a different reason. They are there to help you. You are directed to go through them and should, and you should also hold them to their task of serving you as a broker. They can help find the best solution for your need and can give you advice on the best way to leverage public cloud capabilities.

Stay tuned for more!

More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.

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