DHS shifting to cloud, agile development to boost homeland security
Along with its transition to agile, the department is establishing cloud services, platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service
Computerworld - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has moved to agile development and is shifting to cloud platforms in an effort to improve its IT operations.
At a hearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security on Tuesday, a DHS IT official gave lawmakers an overview of agile development methodologies, one of the tools that the department is using to fix its IT project management.
Agile came up after U.S. Rep Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), a former staffer in Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's office who won that seat after Giffords resigned, asked what DHS was doing to ensure that its IT systems met user needs.
Margaret Graves, DHS deputy CIO, said the department is using agile methodologies to create user stories to help shape the systems. In agile development, user stories can be short and informal descriptions of some of the functions users would like to see.
"These users are developing along with the developers," said Graves. "They are sitting with the developer, they are talking through use cases, they are testing at appropriate times," she said.
What this is accomplishing is providing immediate feedback, "which is continuously incorporated into the development cycle," said Graves.
DHS transitioned to agile last year, according to Graves' testimony.
The intent of the hearing was to look at the progress of some of the department's IT projects. Approximately 15% of the department's budget, or about $6 billion, is spent on IT.
Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) cited reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO_ and DHS Inspector General that found fault with some of department's IT spending. Of the department's 68 major IT investments, about a third had not met their cost or target dates.
Duncan was "disappointed" that DHS CIO Richard Spires was unable to testify. "Mr. Spires has been outspoken on improving IT at DHS and ensuring transparency and meaningful oversight," he said.
Despite the criticism of Spires as a no-show, David Powner, director of IT technology management issues at the GAO, who also testified, said of Spires that "our government is fortunate to have his service" and he believed the agency was trending in the right direction.
That direction includes a shift to cloud platforms.
Graves said the DHS is consolidating 42 data centers into two, and has consolidated 18 data centers at this point. As part of this effort, it is establishing cloud services, platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service, including moving its email system to a cloud platform.
With cloud-based systems, the cost per email box will be about $7 for each user, which Graves said is a substantial savings. At the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is part of DHS, they spent about $24 per user, she said.
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Enterprises increasingly look to the private cloud
- Without the cloud, Microsoft may lose grasp on the enterprise
- How the cloud can make IT shops more innovative
- Business users bypass IT and go rogue to the cloud
- HP looks to ease enterprise IT cloud fears
- Afraid of the cloud? How to handle your fears
- 5 reasons why Google can catch Amazon in the cloud
- Public cloud market ready for 'hypergrowth' period
- Cloud security concerns are overblown, experts say
- Cloud computing 2014: Moving to a zero-trust security model
Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.
This pilot fish is a contractor at a military base, working on some very cool fire-control systems for tanks. But when he spots something obviously wrong during a live-fire test, he can't get the firing-range commander's attention.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Reduce federal infrastructure risk with compliance management and situational awareness
- IBM continuous monitoring and management solutions deliver real-time situational awareness to help federal agencies understand vulnerabilities, and protect the infrastructure.
- Comprehensive Advanced Threat Defense
- The hot topic in the information security industry these days is "Advanced Threat Defense" (ATD). This paper describes a comprehensive, network-based approach to...
- Advanced Threat Defense: A Comprehensive Approach
- In this interview, Peter George, president, General Dynamics Fidelis Cybersecurity Solutions, explains why we need more than anti-malware, and what constitutes a comprehensive...
- Market Overview: Digital Customer Experience Delivery Platforms
- Forrester states that businesses today struggle to understand and use the tools necessary to create and manage unified, multichannel digital customer experiences across...
- The Growing Demand for Rich Media
- This white paper discusses how IBM Customer Experience Suite Rich Media Edition can automate rich media workflows, from collaborating with creative agencies and... All Government IT White Papers
- On-demand webinar - 7 Keys to Service Catalog Implementation Success Watch this webinar to learn 7 crucial keys to make your service catalog a success!
- Transform Your IT Service Management Watch this webinar, to learn how EasyVista can increase IT productivity & efficiency and deliver streamlined & integrated IT Service & Asset Mgmt.
- IBM FlashSystem V840: Leveraging Software-Defined Flash to Drive Your Business With end-to-end, tightly integrated functionality and super-fast flash technology, products like IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution empower businesses to leverage the efficiency...
- Leveraging Flash Storage to Accelerate Oracle Real Application Clusters Join this webinar to understand the latest solid-state storage trends, the specific applications driving solid-state storage deployments and the benefits of deploying the...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- All Government IT Webcasts