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Making a Successful Journey to the Cloud | @CloudExpo #Cloud

The hardest part isn’t deciding that you want to utilize cloud capabilities, but actually knowing where to start

What do Government Executives Need to be Thinking about to Make a Successful Journey to the Cloud?
By Matt Southmayd

In 2011 the US Federal Government issued a Cloud First policy mandating that agencies take full advantage of cloud computing benefits to maximize capacity utilization, improve IT flexibility and responsiveness, and minimize cost. Cloud computing is a design style that allows for efficient use of compute, storage, and memory in order to decrease cycle time for mission delivery and promises to change the way that agencies deliver services to citizens for the next twenty years.

Roger Hockenberry, CEO of Cognitio and former CTO for the National Clandestine Services of the Central Intelligence Agency, helped create and realize the potential of cloud capabilities for the Intelligence Community. Getting the Intelligence Community to accept Cloud computing as a viable platform was a difficult road to travel. This interview with Roger offers some thoughts and suggestions for a successful Cloud journey:

Question 1: Why Cloud Computing?

Answer: Cloud offers many advantages to an enterprise. First, as a design style, Cloud Computing allows for fine-grained engineering to maximize utilization of compute, memory and storage. This engineering creates the opportunities to realize economies of scale and efficiencies in how much raw compute is purchased. In fact, the use of cloud eases the highest cost for most programs- CAPEX, or the amount of money needed to build the necessary infrastructure to support mission delivery. The secondary benefit is easing the O&M (operation and maintenance) tail as management can be eased through automation and light-touch process.

Question 2: What does Cloud really do for an agency?

Answer: Beyond any financial benefit, the most important thing the cloud does for an agency is reduce cycle time and provide ‘speed to mission.’ When infrastructure and platform is readily available, with high automation and low-cost, the ability to quickly deliver on a variety of mission needs is realized. For most agencies, cloud allows for re-allocation of the most precious resource- people- to higher value work. Cloud is about shedding commodity process and cost and focusing on driving mission value and services to Citizens.

Question 3: What is the hardest part of the journey?

Answer: The hardest part isn’t deciding that you want to utilize cloud capabilities, but actually knowing where to start, and how hard to push for cloud adoption. In many cases, it isn’t a question of technology, although the technology adoption of cloud is not trivial, but of security and accreditation, as both Government procurement and security haven't caught up with this huge paradigm shift. On the security side, it is a question of how to accredit a shared system on shared infrastructure and where to start that process. On the procurement side, it’s figuring out how to procure services that are charged as they are used, or have a variable charge model.

Question 4: Where does an agency start?

Answer: Every agency needs to have a clear strategy and plan that runs in phases. I’ve seen a
number of agencies open the floodgates and allow everyone to simply ‘run’ to the cloud. This doesn’t work. If you’re not careful, utilizing cloud computing can actually cost you more money than buying your own infrastructure. So every agency should have a plan that includes building the necessary competency needed to run and manage private, hybrid and public cloud domains. Along with this, the agency needs to re-evaluate and update the security process for deploying capabilities into a cloud environment. Finally, every agency needs to work closely with their acquisition team to help understand and adapt to a variable cost model, and the implications that has within FAR or DFAR regulations.

Conclusion
For many agencies, the question is not whether to move to a cloud environment, but how to move to a cloud environment in an efficient, cost-effective manner with little disruption to services and capabilities. When moving to a cloud environment, agencies must answer the following questions:

  • Which cloud environment is appropriate?
  • Is my program, platform, or capability ready or able to move to the cloud?
  • What level of effort is needed to move my capabilities to the cloud?
  • What technical changes will need to be made to my systems?
  • How do I construct an appropriate transition plan to move systems?

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Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder and partner at Cognitio Corp and publsher of CTOvision.com