March 10, 2014
Volume XLVII, Issue 5
Who Will Win the Battle for gCLOUD Domination?
The US public sector is projected to pay $10 billion per year by 2018 for cloud computing services in military and government agencies.
In fact, right now the federal cloud computing market is growing at 16% CAGR.
The question is — who will take home the lion's share of this enormous spend?
CLOUD COMPUTING EAST 2014 (CCE:2014) delegates will make up their own minds after hearing opening plenary keynotes and networking with the leaders in this space.
Will a background in logistics and delivery win out? Or will expertise in search-and-share functionality prove to be more important?
Amazon Web Services' (AWS) Global Public Sector GM Steven Spano and Google's US Government Solutions Leader David Mihalchik have their own views of what the outcome will be.
As do these two additional opening keynote speakers, IBM's Senior Technical Staff and Solutions Architect Jim Amsden and Verizon's Distinguished Member of Technical Staff Igor Kantor, who are joining AWS and Google to kick-off CCE:2014.
The CCA & DCIA will present CCE:2014 on May 15th and 16th at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC.
Please click here to register; here to learn about exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities, and here to apply to speak at this must-attend strategic business summit.
Brigadier General Steven Spano USAF, Retired, is the General Manager, Defense and National Security, for Amazon Web Service's Global Public Sector. General Spano retired from the USAF in September 2011. He was formally the Director of Communications, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, VA, responsible for IT vision, policy guidance, and resource allocation supporting the command's warfighting mission.
Prior to that, General Spano served as the CJ6 for Multi-National Forces Iraq where he was responsible for all IT policy, interoperability and network operations supporting all joint and coalition forces. He also served as the principle advisor to the government of Iraq for Information and Communications Technology reconstruction.
David Mihalchik leads US Government Solutions for Google. Since joining Google in 2007, he has helped establish and rapidly expand Google's cloud computing footprint in the public sector. David led the effort within Google to certify and accredit Google Apps under FISMA, and he was part of the team that launched Google Apps for Government in 2010. In 2011, Federal Computer Week named David to a list of the top 100 leaders who have played pivotal roles in the Federal government IT community.
Prior to joining Google, David was a Senior Manager in Accenture's Federal Strategy practice. He holds a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor's degree in Government from Georgetown University.
Is Cloud Computing Set to Take Over the World?
Excerpted from ZDNet Report by Dan Kusnetzky
Datacenter Dynamics has invited me to present at its upcoming Converged Conference at the Marriott Marquis in New York, NY on March 11th. The conference will focus on data center initiatives using the latest research data and trend analysis to achieve optimal results.
More than 1,000 data center professionals are expected to attend. The attendees typically are data center vice presidents, directors, and managers of data center operations.
Sessions will focus on topics such as: is your infrastructure ready for mobile money; when the software-defined data center meets the reality-defined facility; transition to the hyper data center: information anytime, anyplace, and on any device; and real world data center case studies.
My topic is "Cloud Computing - Is it Going to Take Over the World?" I'm planning on examining the history of cloud computing, where it fits, and where it isn't the best choice.
If you are attending the event, please stop by to say hello. I'll report on it soon.
Report from CEO Marty Lafferty
The DCIA salutes charter sponsors and exhibitors for signing up early to support CLOUD COMPUTING EAST (CCE:2014),
CCE:2014 is the must-attend strategic summit for business leaders and software developers in our nation's capital, and initial backers include Apptix, Aspiryon, Axios Systems, Clear Government Solutions, CSC Leasing Company, CyrusOne, IBM, Oracle, SoftServe, and VeriStor Systems.
Apptix is the premier provider of hosted business communication, collaboration, and information (IT) solutions to businesses of all sizes — from SOHO to Fortune 500 — with particular expertise supporting legal, financial, healthcare, and telecom firms.
A pioneer in the hosted services space, Apptix has been in operation for over a decade and currently has over 500,000 users under contract around the world. Apptix is a profitable, publicly traded business headquartered in Herndon, VA.
Aspiryon is a provider of IT, financial, and healthcare consulting and staffing services, that sets a standard of excellence for the clients that it serves. Aspiryon is driven to develop strategies and solutions that ensure effectiveness, efficiency, and provide value to its clients.
When you are looking to turn a negative into a positive, do more with less, or maximize the efficiency of your resources, you need a partner that understands it, does it, and proves it: Aspiryon.
Axios Systems delivers on-premise and SaaS Service Desk and IT Service Management (ITSM) software to customers across the globe. Axios combines software, consulting, and training to implement ITSM strategies tailored to meet the needs of its customers.
IT services are critical to an organization's ability to deliver value to customers. By implementing an ITSM strategy with Axios, you can improve equality, agility, and efficiency of IT services.
Clear Government Solutions (CGS) is a leader in cloud computing and infrastructure services to federal, state, and local government clients. Founded in 2006, CGS is a privately held small business, incorporated in the state of Delaware and headquartered in Prince George's County MD.
CGS, via its Clear Gov business unit, is one of a very select group of companies that has been awarded all three Functional Areas of the GSA Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA).
CSC Leasing Company was founded in 1986 as an independent lessor of technology equipment. It provides custom lease solutions to meet the ever-changing business and competitive needs of growing organizations — from startups to Fortune 500 companies.
CSC Leasing's clients include companies across a wide array of industries, municipalities, and non-profits located throughout the Unites States. CSC's corporate offices are located in Richmond, VA and it has branch offices in Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and the Metro DC area.
CyrusOne's core competency is operating state-of-the-art enterprise data centers for the largest companies in the world. For nearly two decades, global firms seeking enterprise colocation solutions have confidently selected CyrusOne.
You too can take advantage of the latest data center architecture and realize exceptional operational efficiencies and availability with solutions from CyrusOne. Unless building and running data center operations is a core competency of your company, it doesn't make sense to focus your energy and resources on data center operations.
IBM Cloud is the new home for business innovation in three major categories: Biz - with enterprise-grade business apps to accelerate innovation (SaaS) including mobile messaging for marketing, business process collaboration, data warehousing and analytics, social business collaboration, and supply chain visibility; Dev - with powerful services and APIs via an integrated cloud platform (PaaS) including Liberty for Java, Node.js, Ruby, MongoDB, and Twilio; and Ops - with self-service IT infrastructure configurable to your needs (IaaS) including application and infrastructure performance management, dedicated bare metal servers, managed cloud environment, security services, and virtual servers.
Oracle delivers the broadest selection of enterprise-grade cloud solutions, including software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Now you can offload IT management and focus on growing your business.
To thrive in today's customer empowered environment, brands need to deliver the best customer experiences when, where, and how customers want it. Oracle Cloud Customer Experience Services combine web, social, and contact center experiences for a unified, cross-channel service solution - increasing sales, adoption and customer trust.
SoftServe is a leading global outsourcing product and application development company dedicated to empowering businesses worldwide by providing end-to-end capabilities from product concept to completion. SoftServe is motivated and inspired to leverage advanced software technologies to accelerate your growth, strengthen your market position, and exceed your customer's expectations.
SoftServe has created an internal ecosystem that combines its experience, intelligence, and best practices with your needs and insights, building strong partnerships, delivering quality products and services, and giving you a competitive edge in your marketplace.
VeriStor provides customized, performance-enhancing virtual infrastructure and enterprise storage solutions and services to enterprise and mid-market companies. It is dedicated to leveraging the latest virtualization technologies and techniques to meet its customers' requirements in the most functional and cost-effective ways possible.
VeriStor recognizes that a successful data center strategy requires a holistic approach to the entire infrastructure to ensure that key dependencies are designed and implemented based on virtualization best practices. It specializes in a variety of services focused on the latest virtualization technologies and solutions.
Please contact Don Buford, CEO, or Hank Woji, VP Business Development, at the CCA to learn more about attractive conference exhibition and sponsorship opportunities.
CCE:2014 will focus on the gCLOUD (The Government Cloud) and the hCLOUD (The Healthcare Cloud).
This important gathering of thought leaders and first movers will thoroughly examine the current state of adoption and the outstanding challenges affecting two major and increasingly related sectors of the economy, whose principals are currently engaged in migrating to the cloud.
Jointly presented by the DCIA & CCA, CCE:2014 will take place on Thursday and Friday, May 15th-16th, at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC.
To review conference topics and apply to join the speaking faculty for this event, please click here. If you'd like to speak at this major industry event, please contact me now. Share wisely, and take care.
Amazon vs. Google vs. Azure: Cloud Computing Speed Showdown
Excerpted from ComputerWorld Report
The cloud computing sales pitch is seductive because the cloud offers many advantages. There are no utility bills to pay, no server room staff who want the night off, and no crazy tax issues for amortizing the cost of the machines over N years. You give them your credit card, and you get root on a machine, often within minutes.
To test out the options available to anyone looking for a server, I rented some machines on Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, and Microsoft Windows Azure and took them out for a spin. The good news is that many of the promises have been fulfilled. If you click the right buttons and fill out the right web forms, you can have root on a machine in a few minutes, sometimes even faster. All of them make it dead simple to get the basic goods: a Linux distro running what you need.
At first glance, the options seem close to identical. You can choose from many of the same distributions, and from a wide range of machine configuration options. But if you start poking around, you'll find differences - including differences in performance and cost. The machines may seem like commodities, but they're not. This became more and more evident once the machines started churning through my benchmarks.
I tested small, medium, and large machine instances on Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, and Microsoft Windows Azure using the open source DaCapo benchmarks, a collection of 14 common Java programs bundled into one easy-to-start JAR. It's a diverse set of real-world applications that will exercise a machine in a variety different ways. Some of the tests will stress CPU, others will stress RAM, and still others will stress both. Some of the tests will take advantage of multiple threads. No machine configuration will be ideal for all of them.
Some of the benchmarks in the collection will be very familiar to server users. The Tomcat test, for instance, starts up the popular web server and asks it to assemble some web pages. The Luindex and Lusearch tests will put Lucene, the common indexing and search tool, through its paces. Another test, Avrora, will simulate some microcontrollers. Although this task may be useful only for chip designers, it still tests the raw CPU capacity of the machine.
I ran the 14 DaCapo tests on three different Linux machine configurations on each cloud, using the default JVM. The instances aren't perfect "apples to apples" matches, but they are roughly comparable in terms of size and price. Please click here for the full report.
Google and Verizon Take Big Steps in the Cloud
Excerpted from Network World Report by Brandon Butler
Google and Verizon each made announcements this week that are significant in their race to catch the company many consider to still be the market leader in the IaaS public cloud: Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Google announced a robust partner program this week, including three tiers of third-party vendors who provide technical and consulting services for the company's cloud product.
Verizon, meanwhile, further committed itself to embracing application development in its cloud with an extension of its previously announced partnerships with CloudBees and CloudFoundry. Through its venture arm, Verizon committed a monetary investment to PaaS provider CloudBees. The moves show how some of AWS's competitors hope to compete in this market, and highlight the different approaches IaaS vendors are taking.
Google's partnership news is particularly significant because so many enterprise customers use a consultant or a partner to execute a cloud strategy. Technology Business Research recently reported that almost three-quarters of cloud users of large businesses worked with a consultant to strategize or provide technical support in a cloud deployment. Google this week released a website listing more than 100 service and technical partners that are certified to provide services on Google's cloud. AWS already has a robust partner network, and Google is looking to build up the same.
Verizon Ventures, which is the investment arm of its parent company, this week made an announcement of an $11 million infusion of cash into CloudBees, which specializes in a platform for users to create Java apps in the cloud. The move further cements Verizon and CloudBees as partners, beyond the announcement from last month that CloudBees' PaaS would be available in Verizon's cloud. The move is particularly interesting because Verizon already had plans to offer the open source PaaS in its cloud from Cloud Foundry.
"PaaS is a great value for developers," says Executive Director of Verizon Ventures Daniel Keoppel. "They don't have to worry about maintaining a system, the underlying infrastructure or the health of the operations - they just code."
By having CF and CloudBees in its IaaS portfolio, Verizon now has application development environments for a variety of different customers. "It's really up to the customer to decide what they need, and from Verizon's point of view, we want to be able to offer them options," he says.
The moves follow up on other partnerships Verizon has announced for its new IaaS cloud - which is still in beta at this point. Earlier this year the company announced partnerships with both SAP and Oracle to offer those companies' services through its cloud.
Verizon's Enterprise Growth Will be Driven by Cloud
Excerpted from Fierce Telecom Report by Sean Buckley
Verizon Communications' enterprise business continues to weather a challenging economic time, but according to CEO Lowell McAdam, cloud, machine-to-machine (M2M), and security represent large opportunities for the telco.
Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, McAdam said the service provider has taken a number of steps to improve its processes and systems to serve its business clients over the past two years. He said that the economy is "beginning to show life, but I would say the overall business economy needs to improve a little bit." Perhaps the biggest issue that Verizon and its large ILEC brother AT&T faces is how and when next-gen services will completely displace losses from legacy technologies like frame relay and ATM.
"The cloud, security and machine to machine are expanding nicely, but the question is, when will they get big enough to offset the decline in normal core wireline services?" McAdam said. "I think we're still a year away."
During Q4 2013, strategic enterprise service revenue grew 2.3 percent year-over-year to $2.14 billion due to strong sales of data center, cloud and security services. Strategic services now make up 59 percent of Verizon's global enterprise revenue.
However, overall business service revenues declined 5.2 percent to $3.6 billion due to slower enterprise and public sector spending.
Interestingly, the recent spate of credit card breaches at Target and the banking market have ignited new activity in Verizon's Cybertrust division.
"Because of all of the attacks of that are going on to the retailers and the banking system we have a tremendous amount of business in our Cybertrust asset," McAdam said. "We frankly can't meet the demand out there at this point, so depending on how that takes off that could accelerate the goal."
IBM to Partners: Hurry Up and Get to the Cloud
Excerpted from The Var Guy Report by Michael Cusanelli
All the cool kids are moving their businesses into the cloud - are you?
More and more IT organizations are integrating cloud-based services into their businesses each month, but it's still not fast enough for IBM, one of the largest and most influential distributors in the channel. During a recent vendor event in London, IBM Europe's VP of Business Partners David Kay bemoaned the slow nature of many of IBM's channel partners to dedicating their efforts to cloud computing.
Kay said IBM's partners played a large role in the company's Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social and Security (CAMSS) strategy, which increasingly will focus on rallying IBM's resources around improving its virtualization services. The company outlined its latest strategy during last month's PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, NV, where IBM exec Tom Rosamilia stressed that its partners need to embrace the cloud for business. Kay reiterated the importance of the cloud this week, asserting that partners who have made the transition to the cloud with IBM are seeing increased revenue growth of 2.5 times the average, leading to an estimated 7.6 revenue streams for early adopters, according to an article in Channelnomics.
"Some of our existing partners can lead IBM to the CAMSS & Commerce goals quickly," said Kay. "For example, many of our MSPs are doing that already."
Kay told attendees that IBM increasingly will focus on wearable technology such as smart watches in addition to mobile solutions and devices. Kay also mentioned the importance of what he calls "cognitive" computing, referring to the launch of IBM's Watson Content Store in January. European partners will get left behind, he said, if they don't start their transition to the cloud sooner.
Not enough of them are making enough progress quickly and I do worry about their survival into the next era of computing," said Kay. "The move toward cloud is inexorable now, IBM is a cloud solutions player in our own capability, but we want to leverage our partners' capability as well."
Kay did not sound off on the effects virtualization would have for North American partners; however, it wouldn't be a stretch to extend this philosophy all companies who still work primarily with legacy storage and security products. And while one can't say that definitively virtualization is the best course of action for all IT companies, it would be hard to argue that the advent of cloud services hasn't made business safer and easier for a majority of organizations willing to take the plunge.
Microsoft Lets Agencies Test Government-Only Cloud
Excerpted from InformationWeek Report by William Jackson
Microsoft has begun giving a select group of federal customers the chance to put Microsoft's new government-only cloud service through a series of private tests. "The processes, people, technology, and infrastructure are all in place. We want real-world test loads," for a shakedown cruise, said Greg Myers, VP of Federal Sales, in announcing the news Tuesday at Microsoft's US Public Sector Federal Executive Forum in Washington., DC.
Although Microsoft's commercial Azure cloud offering has received authority to operate under the FedRAMP program for cloud services, the new government platform — announced last fall and called Azure for Government — has not yet been certified.
The government-only offering is housed in two specially constructed data centers located in the United States and isolated physically and logically from the public cloud. All personnel will be US citizens screened for moderate public trust clearance and the servers will house only data from federal, state, and local government customers. The new platform, although operational, is not finished and will keep evolving to provide enhanced security, said Myers.
"We see this as a dynamic environment," he said. "It is very labor intensive, very capital intensive. It's not an environment for the weak."
A dynamic system is necessary to provide adequate security, because defense in modern, complex systems requires the ability to respond and adapt, said David Aucsmith, Senior Director of Microsoft's Institute for Advanced Technology for Governments.
Aucsmith, an author of the Defense Department's 1985 Orange Book, Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria, said at the federal forum that after 30 years of trying, "I do not believe you can create a secure computer system."
The complexity of IT systems makes it impossible to understand them fully, and this complexity makes it impossible to specify conditions and requirements with enough granularity to ensure security, he said. Testing and built-in processes are necessary but not sufficient to ensure security.
Because "we don't know what we don't know," any static system will become vulnerable to an adversary, Aucsmith added. The only effective defense requires the ability to recognize and respond to threats, which includes keeping systems fully patched and up-to-date.
Because patching and updating IT systems in a large enterprise is complex and time consuming, cloud platforms can provide enhanced security because dedicated staff can handle these jobs for multiple customers, and usually deploy them more quickly, he said. Patches represent a healthy way to combat adversaries. But if enterprises don't apply the patches quickly - within about five days of release - hackers can get the upper hand by exploiting the vulnerabilities revealed by patches.
"Hackers today are better organized, certainly better financed, and outcome driven," said forum guest speaker Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor who helped lead the creation of the Homeland Security Department. "There are still some people in the private sector that see cyber threats as an IT problem instead of a business risk."
Azure for Government initially will host workloads with higher security clearances than usual and will not take the place of the commercial Azure offering, which still will be available to government customers. But Myers said that eventually the new platform would become the default for all government customers.
There is no timeline for general availability of the new offering, but the next step in the rollout, a public preview, is expected in late spring.
VMware Pursues Federal Cloud Contracts
Excerpted from InformationWeek Report by Charles Babcock
VMware is trying to convert its large presence as the virtualization supplier for federal agencies and become a supplier of public cloud services to the US government. The company on Tuesday is launching vCloud Government Service. Well, almost. Stopping just short of that, it's announced a bid to secure FedRAMP Authority to operate a hybrid cloud service for the government.
The Federal Risk and Authorization Program (FedRAMP) is a set of security and operations requirements drawn up by National Institute of Standards and Technology that must be verified as being in place at a service provider by a third-party audit. Getting FedRAMP approval "requires a lot of time and can hinder innovation and drive up costs," wrote Sean Applegate, Director of Federal Technology strategy at Riverbed Technology, in a recent posting on InformationWeek..
Once FedRAMP Authority is approved, its service will be known as VMware vCloud Government Service. But it won't be running in VMware's four US vCloud data centers. To meet the FedRAMP requirements, the service will be hosted in service provider Carpathia's data centers. That means it will be known by the full name of VMware vCloud Government Service Provided by Carpathia, said Angelos Kottas, Director of Product Marketing, Public Sector for vCloud Hybrid Service.
"Carpathia has been a long term VMware partner with experience in running secure facilities in Virginia and Phoenix, AZ.," Kottas said in an interview. Carpathia is both a hosted managed service provider and a cloud service provider. It operates data centers in Dulles and Ashburn, VA, and Los Angeles, CA, as well as Phoenix. It was founded in 2003, has experience in providing secured services to federal agencies, and knows its way around the federal government. That was evident in a February 26th announcement that it was forming a federal advisory council composed of a former federal agency CIO, a deputy CIO, and the former operations director for Homeland Security.
Kottas said VMware will not be able to offer hybrid cloud services until the second half of 2014, but was announcing its pursuit of FedRAMP approval now because "we can then start bidding on federal business" that will be awarded in the second half of 2014.
The service "will be branded and sold by VMware. It will be managed and supported by Carpathia," he said. Among other contracts, VMware expects to bid on a deal with the General Services Administration, where ESX Server and vSphere are already deeply entrenched. "Many government agencies standardize on vSphere. If anything, it's higher than the commercial market," he said.
By getting a compatible vCloud service FedRAMP authorized, VMware will kick start its public hybrid cloud service with an additional class of customers, ones that may offer a powerful example to enterprises worried about maintaining security in the cloud. VMware customers used to vMotioning virtual machines around the data center may find it second nature to live migrate them out into a compatible cloud location, provided they have assurance on security. VMware's goal is to move customers into its cloud services by allowing them to use the tools and management console with which they are already familiar.
VMware customers in federal agencies "won't need to learn new tools or new workflows," said Kottas. They'll be able to master cloud operations quickly and gain the benefits of cloud-bursting rather than adding to federal data centers, he said.
Government agencies can count on hybrid cloud built on best-of-breed technologies with which government agencies are familiar," said Peter Weber, CEO of Carpathia, in the announcement.
Kottas couldn't specify when in the second half FedRAMP approval might materialize. VMware will rely on one of Carpathia's Virginia datacenters with the Phoenix data center serving as a second source.
The emergence of VMware as a federal government supplier means another competitor for IBM's Federal Services Division, which in November lost a bidding process for a $600 million CIA cloud contract to Amazon Web Services.
Government as a Platform: Lessons from Federal Cloud Deployment
Excerpted from Midsize Insider Report by Doug Bonderud
While lowered spending and decreased technological redundancy are key aims of the federal government's Cloud First policy, the use of agile, flexible systems comes with a substantial side benefit: The development of "government as a platform." Rick Holgate, President of the American Council for Technology (ACT), believes the cloud is reshaping how the Beltway does business and may lead to improved private partnerships. While the scope of deployment is certainly broader than that of the average midsize company, federal deployment offers actionable lessons in cloud efficacy and cloud pitfalls.
Holgate, interviewed for a February 23rd article at Forbes, says that cloud computing is "bringing about more modern and more flexible, agile ways of delivering services and technology to our customers." By opening up access to such data as GPS and weather information, the government has encouraged innovation in the private sector. Without the cloud and a Cloud First mandate, a large amount of this data would still be secreted away on federal servers.
It is worth noting, however, that the development of government as a platform for private industry and collaboration will not happen overnight. Forbes notes that a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that only 10 percent of agencies have migrated critical assets to the cloud, and only 5 percent of cloud migration plans submitted to the GAO are complete. Almost one-third of government departments and agencies have developed a cloud strategy, but implementation is uneven. Even so, the end goal is sound for both the government and midsize business: Create a platform that encourages collaboration through the cloud and provides easy access to noncritical data.
The evolution of government as a platform shines light on some of the most pervasive myths about cloud computing — namely, those concerning speed and security. As a recent article from The Next Web notes, security is often the primary factor cited by C-suite executives or IT professionals to explain their reluctance to move their computing cloudward. In many cases, however, the security of a cloud provider is superior to in-house options because the provider is not using legacy systems and has a vested interest in keeping client data secure. Forbes notes that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is meeting with private cloud vendors to fulfill the agency's massive need for infrastructure on demand. Ultimately, the public Internet — not public clouds — represents the real security risk. The right vendor can alleviate most of these concerns.
Government cloud deployments also call out the myth of speed. Many providers want to sell deployment speed as a unique property of the cloud but often neglect to mention the human side of this equation. As noted above, most federal agencies have cloud strategies but have incomplete or missing clouds. Although installation and upgrade times are almost negligible, changing the habits and thought processes of users takes more time. On paper, the Cloud First initiative looks great and makes fiscal sense. Practically, however, there is a disconnect between idea and implementation because retraining users takes far more time than altering machines. The take-away for midsize IT is that cloud deployments must be two-pronged; technology and education must happen together.
The federal government is creating a universal platform powered by the cloud. Its successes and failures offer lessons for midsize companies that hope to do the same.
Platform-as-a-Service Promotes Innovation across All Sectors
Excerpted from Midsize Insider Report by Marissa Tejada
Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is doing wonders for government agencies that use the cloud for mission-critical activities and projects. A recent article in FedTech Magazine cited positive statistics about the service, including the fact that 70 percent of agencies are transitioning to it. Meanwhile, 95 percent of federal IT professionals agree that the transition results in improved security and a reduction in costs.
The article points out that PaaS has offered increased scalability for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and its Chief Technology Officer for IT. Thanks to PaaS, the laboratory did not have to bother with purchasing hardware and software for a cloud computing-optimized project. The agency was also able to scale up and down on demand when deploying its new Be A Martian website. In the end, IT professionals were satisfied with how the cloud enabled them to deploy their missions instead of forcing them to focus on infrastructure details.
In the future, the agency wants to look into a hybrid cloud, noting that hybrid models would improve its cloud-computing deployments. A private cloud would be used for projects that are high-level security concerns. For other projects, they aim to procure services from various public cloud providers for optimum availability and scalability.
Midsize firms have the same goals as federal agencies when it comes to deploying new technologies. IT professionals from both are looking for innovative technologies that make a difference with a quick return on investment. This is often due to the fact that IT budgets are tight and resources are low. However, the work is demanding, and projects rely on the innovation that IT provides. This is where the cloud has come into the picture for both growing firms and public agencies. Various cloud services have proved that they can meet the scalability that projects demand while at the same time lowering expenditures and costs.
Finding the right cloud service is key. Midsize firms, like government bodies, can work with vendors to understand their information infrastructure and to align cloud services with their business goals. A private, public, or hybrid model can be used. Like software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), PaaS is providing midsize firms with the services they need to get projects done with the least possible amount of complexity. For example, through PaaS architectures, IT professionals will not be required to code from scratch, and this benefit saves time and headaches.
PaaS has helped government agencies innovate and has even prompted IT managers to look into other forms of cloud computing to optimize their IT infrastructures. IT professionals seek the same kind of scalability and efficient management. As a result, PaaS will remain a top consideration for midsize firms as well.
FedRAMP OnRAMP Eases Cloud Compliance
Excerpted from Federal Times Report by Michael Hardy
The General Services Administration (GSA) and MeriTalk are teaming to create the FedRAMP OnRAMP, an online portal intended to speed the government's move to cloud computing. According to Meritalk, the portal gives government agencies "360-degree visibility" into their current cloud offerings and information about new cloud services that will be certified in the near future.
"There has been a lot of talk about the value of cloud in the government," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-VA, who serves as ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Government Operations. "FedRAMP OnRAMP provides tangible metrics and critical insight on a program that is critical to accelerating the modernization of government through the adoption of cloud computing. I commend GSA on the progress it has made so far in implementing FedRAMP and look forward to seeing the resulting savings grow over time."
FedRAMP, which stands for Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, is a program GSA launched to ensure that cloud solutions the government uses meet certain minimum levels of security. By June, agencies are expected to ensure that all of their cloud solutions are FedRAMP certified.
Access FedRAMP OnRAMp at www.meritalk.com.
FedRAMP Cloud Security Approval: Look Who Applied
Excerpted from InformationWeek Report by Wyatt Kash
The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), the program that helps agencies migrate to the cloud securely, is making public the names of cloud service providers that are in the process of obtaining the government's security certification.
The information appears in a new FedRAMP resource section on the Federal CIO Council's cloud.cio.gov site. FedRAMP.gov visitors were redirected to the site beginning last week. The new site provides a range of materials that agencies and cloud providers need to meet FedRAMP requirements.
The new FedRAMP site identifies among other information, 10 previously undisclosed ''cloud systems in process'' seeking FedRAMP certification for new or additional cloud infrastructure, platform, and software services. The site provides details on the services under review from CenturyLink Technology Solutions, Clear Government Solutions (CGS), Economic Systems, Fiberlink (a unit of IBM), Hewlett-Packard, Layered Tech Government Solutions, Microsoft, Oracle, SecureKey Technologies, and Virtustream. CA Technologies also is reportedly seeking FedRAMP certification.
FedRAMP has already certified 14 cloud services from 12 providers, including an Oracle PaaS offering approved on February 24th.
The CIO Council cloud portal pulls together reference documents for agencies, cloud service providers, and third-party assessment organizations from FedRAMP's existing website. That site is run by the General Services Administration (GSA), which manages the FedRAMP program. The information is also integrated across the Cloud.cio.gov site, which focuses on users' need to ''learn about, use, acquire, manage and secure'' cloud services.
The new site has more forums and FAQs, according to Maria Roat, FedRAMP Director at GSA. The GSA will continue to keep its version of the FedRAMP site active, she explained, because many documents out there reference the GSA website.
Agencies are under White House pressure to adopt cloud computing services and have them FedRAMP-certified by June 5, 2014. The program's security standards have attracted interest from cloud providers, but as FedRAMP officials acknowledge, they're trying to expand the offering of approved services.
FedRAMP officials have also announced plans to partner with the public-private group MeriTalk in an effort to widen FedRAMP's visibility within the federal IT market with the launch of the FedRAMP OnRAMP.
The promotional site, due to go live March 13th, promises to provide additional details about where companies are in the application process. It also plans to report on what agencies can save using FedRAMP-certified cloud services instead of building and certifying their own systems.
Based on preliminary reports from six FedRAMP-certified cloud providers and data on 210 cloud installations, MeriTalk estimates that FedRAMP has saved the government $52.5 million since the program began operating in 2012. It also found the government spent an average of $250,000 to bring each cloud service into full FedRAMP compliance.
Feds Look To Big Data On Security Questions
Excerpted from InformationWeek Report by Elena Malykhina
Government IT leaders believe continuous monitoring and advanced analytics can help agencies better understand their networks and security.
Government IT leaders believe the growth of big data analytics may provide new tools in combating cyber security threats, according to a new report.
The new report - based on conversations with18 federal government IT leaders with expertise in big data, cybersecurity, and operations - found that agencies are exploring the opportunities and threats emerging at the intersection of their big data and cybersecurity initiatives.
Experts from agencies including the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), General Services Administration (GSA), and NASA, discussed the emerging interplay between these two disciplines and other trends in a study conducted by MeriTalk, underwritten by Northrop Grumman.
Federal agencies report a continuing shift to virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) for greater data centralization and deploying "cloud hubs"-- a private-cloud infrastructure. Agencies are also expanding their cloud offerings, including the availability of analytics-as-a-service (AaaS). The surveyed executives said they are deploying this information architecture in part to support big data implementations.
According to the report, continuous monitoring and advanced analytics can help agencies gain "unprecedented understanding of their networks and security posture." As big data and security infrastructures evolve, agencies will require dashboards that can aggregate input from different analytical tools.
"The technology that enables large-scale data analytics is rapidly evolving and still relatively expensive. Successive waves of hardware and software innovation in this space will drive out complexity and cost over time," Joseph Hungate, Principal Deputy Inspector General of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, said in the report.
Down the road, "intelligent analytics" - an engine that can ask and answer inquiries and issue alerts without requiring human input - could act in lieu of highly trained data scientists, some government executives predicted. Most agencies today report that they don't have analytics engines that can interact with data and alert of impending danger at the same level as human scientists.
The report made several recommendations to agencies based on feedback from federal IT experts, such as: develop a comprehensive enterprise information architecture strategy that incorporates both big data and cybersecurity; ensure that the agency adequately classifies the risk level of its data analytics and takes steps to mitigate risks; invest in tools to apply analytics to continuously monitor data; and test dashboards that offer new insights and help track the return on investment for big data and cyber efforts.
The report reflects mounting interest in understanding the rise of big data and its impact on federal agencies. The White House in January launched a review of the growing use of big data analytics and its impact on privacy. The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology is conducting an in-depth study, which will be used to create a comprehensive report that encompasses future technological trends and key questions surrounding the collection, availability, and handling of big data.
Cloud, Big Data Firms Causing Big-Time Disruption in IT
Excerpted from Investor's Business Daily Report by Patrick Seitz
The tectonic shift in the information technology industry caused by cloud computing is paving the way for a few years of "big-time disruption" among systems and infrastructure software companies, says Canaccord Genuity analyst Richard Davis.
That disruption will create long-term investment opportunities and likely will see the emergence of another company or two the size of Salesforce.com (CRM) and Workday (WDAY), he said in a 31-page report Monday. The report profiled 16 private companies that have implications for investors, including online data storage companies Box and Dropbox and Big Data firms Cloudera and Actian. These companies are potential IPO candidates or acquisition targets, he said.
Public market valuations for tech companies recently have begun to resemble a "big upfront/hope for execution later" paradigm, Davis wrote. That's created some "Are you kidding me?" valuations like the $19 billion Facebook (FB) is paying for WhatsApp, he said.
"We're in a market in which investors are willing to 'pre-pay' in terms of current valuations for the opportunity to be involved in a potentially big story," Davis wrote. "When the future is bright, as it is today, vague assessments of addressable market size and the pace of revenue growth propels stocks prices. Finally, when you have the Fed repressing interest rates for years on end, the value of future growth is higher (because the discount rate is low). Voila, the result is high valuations and investor willingness to 'prepay' for growth."
Companies in the cloud space have been able to demonstrate real cash savings as opposed to fanciful figures about employee time savings or productivity improvements translating into hard dollar savings.
Chief information officers have been under pressure for that past decade to cut headcount to save money. "People cost more every year, especially when you consider higher healthcare costs. Servers don't, so outsourcing to cloud providers is a logical step," Davis said.
Switching from on-premises software to Internet cloud-based applications has become easier because legacy software providers got too greedy, he said.
"Jacking up maintenance fees from an average of 18% of list to 23-25% was awesome for SAP (SAP), CA Technologies (CA), Oracle (ORCL), HP (HPQ), etc. because the boost was a roughly 99% operating margin windfall," Davis wrote. "That pricing model wasn't so much fun for the customers. Now that they have a choice, they're increasingly looking elsewhere."
On quarterly earnings calls recently, executives from Ultimate Software Group (ULTI) and Workday noted that potential customers are "softening up" in terms of willingness to consider a big switch from their current software vendors, he said. "It's a matter of when, not if, we will see an accelerated market share shift," Davis said.
The shift to cloud-based applications also is eating into the hardware business as companies use shared IT resources, he said.
"This transition is powerfully deflationary to the hardware ecosystem," he said. "The analogy to think about is what would happen to the auto industry if everyone dumped their personally owned cars in favor of public transportation. Demand for bus manufacturers would increase, but car demand and pricing would plummet."
Cloud Computing Stats that CIOs Should Know
Excerpted from Fierce CIO Report by David Weldon
With the increased focus on cloud computing this year, CIOs are charged with making strategic decisions on what should go to the cloud, and whether a public, private, or hybrid cloud environment is best.
To help CIOs better understand the implications of their cloud computing decisions, Silicon Angle recently put together a list of 20 cloud statistics that every CIO should know. They range from predictions on the growth of the cloud market, to what happens to the IT department when an organization embraces cloud computing.
Source links for each statistic can be found at the Silicon Angle blog. Cloud stats that CIOs should take note of include the following:
By 2015, end-user spending on cloud services could be more than $180 billion.
By 2014, businesses in the United States will spend more than $13 billion on cloud computing and managed hosting services.
It is predicted the global market for cloud equipment will reach $79.1 billion by 2018.
59 percent of all new spending on cloud computing services originates from North American enterprises, a trend projected to accelerate through 2016.
Throughout the next five years, a 44 percent annual growth in workloads for the public cloud versus an 8.9 percent growth for 'on premise' computing workloads is expected.
More than 60 percent of businesses utilize cloud for performing IT-related operations.
545 cloud services are in use by an organization on average.
More than half of survey respondents say their organization currently transfers sensitive or confidential data to the cloud.
There's an estimated 1 Exabyte of data stored in the cloud.
82 percent of companies reportedly saved money by moving to the cloud.
80 percent of cloud adopters saw improvements within 6 months of moving to the cloud.
14 percent of companies downsized their IT after cloud adoption.
Coming Events of Interest
Interop Las Vegas — March 31st to April 4th in Las Vegas, NV. The leading independent technology conference and expo series designed to inspire and inform the world's IT community. New in 2014: Cloud Connect Summit and the InformationWeek Conference.
CLOSER 2014 — April 3rd-5th in Barcelona, Spain. The Fourth International Conference on Cloud Computing and Services Science (CLOSER 2014) sets out to explore the emerging area of cloud computing, inspired by recent advances in network technologies.
NAB Show — April 5th-10th in Las Vegas, NV. From broadcasting to broader-casting, NAB Show has evolved over the last eight decades to continually lead this ever-changing industry. From creation to consumption, NAB Show has proudly served as the incubator for excellence — helping to breathe life into content everywhere.
Media Management in the Cloud — April 8th-9th in Las Vegas, NV. This two-day conference provides a senior management overview of how cloud-based solutions positively impact each stage of the content distribution chain, including production, delivery, and storage.
CLOUD COMPUTING EAST 2014 — May 13th-14th in Washington, DC. Three major conference tracks will zero in on the latest advances in the application of cloud-based solutions in three key economic sectors: government, healthcare, and financial services.
International Conference on Internet and Distributed Computing Systems — September 22nd in Calabria, Italy. IDCS 2014 conference is the sixth in its series to promote research in diverse fields related to Internet and distributed computing systems. The emergence of web as a ubiquitous platform for innovations has laid the foundation for the rapid growth of the Internet.