Cloud industry needs to standardize, says fed CIO
HHS CIO wants a way to compare cloud providers
Computerworld - WASHINGTON -- Frank Baitman, the CIO of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was at the Amazon Web Services conference here praising the company's services. His talk was on the verge of becoming a long infomercial, when he stepped back and changed direction.
Baitman has reason to speak well of Amazon. As the big government system integrators slept, Amazon rushed in with its cloud model and began selling its services to federal agencies. The HHS and Amazon worked together in a real sense.
The agency helped Amazon get an all-important security certification best known by its acronym, FedRAMP, while Amazon moved the agency's health data to the cloud. Amazon was the first large cloud vendor to get the FedRAMP security certification.
"[Amazon] gives us the scalability that we need for health data," said Baitman.
But then he said that while it would "make things simpler and nicer" for the HHS to work solely with Amazon, since the agency did the groundwork to get Amazon federal authorizations, "we also believe that there are different reasons to go with different vendors."
Baitman said that the HHS will be working with other vendors as it has with Amazon.
"We recognize different solutions are needed for different problems," said Baitman. "Ultimately we would love to have a competitive environment that brings best value to the taxpayer and keeps vendors innovating."
To accomplish this, the agency plans to adopt a cloud broker model, an intermediary process that can help government entities identify the best cloud approach for a particular workload. That would give agencies the ability to compare different price points, terms of service and service-level agreements.
To make comparisons possible, Baitman said the vendors will have to "standardize in those areas that we evaluate cloud on."
About 2,500 people had registered to attend the Amazon Web Services Worldwide Public Sector Summit, and it certainly looked like that many people had showed up at the Washington Convention Center. It was a big leap in attendance for the event, which drew about 900 attendees last year, 300 in 2011 and just 50 in 2010, said Teresa Carlson, vice president of worldwide public sector operations at Amazon Web Services.
Amazon Web Services has about 200 federal government users, and they use Amazon's cloud to handle a variety of workloads, including websites, communication and collaboration tools, and SharePoint systems, as well as workloads related to the Mars mission and, increasingly, big data analytics projects, said Carlson. Amazon also hosts some intelligence agency workloads and is competing to get a CIA cloud contract.
Carlson said that, based on federal security requirements, theoretically as many as 80% of the government's workloads could run in an Amazon cloud environment.
For government users, Amazon runs what it calls a GovCloud Region, which includes a cluster of data centers forming an "availability zone." The only private-sector businesses that can be part of the GovCloud region are those that directly support the government workloads.
Carlson credits the Obama administration's first CIO, Vivek Kundra, who was appointed in 2009, with initiating the federal shift to the cloud.
The government market "is an important market," said Carlson. When Kundra came out with a "cloud-first strategy," she said, "we felt like that was an opportunity to work with this customer."
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 email address is email@example.com.
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.
- How Four Citrix Customers Solved the Enterprise Mobility Challenge
- Managing mobile devices, data and all types of apps-Windows, datacenter, web and native mobile- through a single solution.
- 8 Steps to Fill the Mobile Enterprise Application Gap
- Traveling executives and Millennials alike expect to communicate, collaborate and access their important work applications and data from anywhere on whatever device they...
- Seattle Children's Accelerates Citrix Login Times by 500% with Cross-Tier Insight
- Seattle Children's is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. With ExtraHop, the IT team at Seattle Children's...
- McKesson Makes Application Hosting for Hospitals Faster, More Efficient
- With ExtraHop, McKesson identified the root cause of slow Citrix XenApp application launches and adopted a more intelligent, proactive IT operations model that... All Government IT White Papers
- Keep Servers Up and Running and Attackers in the Dark An SSL/TLS handshake requires at least 10 times more processing power on a server than on the client. SSL renegotiation attacks can readily...
- On Demand: Mastering the Art of Mobile Content Management Mobile device usage in the enterprise has skyrocketed, and it continues to escalate. IT must answer to users who demand access to their...
- DevOps with PureApplication System: Reduce cost and speed delivery with an integrated IBM Cloud solution Join this webcast to hear what ING Netherlands has been able to achieve while deploying DevOps tools from IBM Rational. An ING executive...
- NSS Labs & Cisco Present: Evaluating Leading Breach Detection Systems Today's constantly evolving advanced malware and APTs can evade point-in-time defenses to penetrate networks. Security professionals must evolve their strategy in lockstep to...
- Will the Real Endpoint Threat Detection and Response Please Stand Up? This webinar explores new technologies & process for protecting endpoints from advanced attackers as well as the innovations that are pushing the envelope...
- All Government IT Webcasts