|By Kevin Jackson||
|September 15, 2011 02:00 PM EDT||
(This is part 3 of the series entitled "Implementation of Cloud Computing Solutions in Federal Agencies". First published on Forbes.com, this series provides the content of a whitepaper I recently authored. A copy of the complete whitepaper will be available at NJVC.com starting September 7, 2011.)
While the benefits and value of the federal cloud computing policy can be debated, the world’s transition to cloud computing as an integral component of any IT infrastructure cannot be denied. The prudent government executive should, therefore, heed the lessons learned from the many private industry corporations that already have miles behind them on this journey.
When identifying a potential cloud computing project, one should always count on a multi-year transition. Organizations should always use a consistent cloud opportunity identification process to reduce the risk of project failure by leveraging data from successful cloud implementations. Clients need to determine set metrics (economic, operational and service) with direct linkage to specific mission requirement(s). Use of a gate-driven cloud adoption process designed to terminate failed projects early in the project lifecycle and deliver measurable capabilities within a quick timeframe (weeks—not years) is highly recommended.
A risk mitigation plan also must be formalized that addresses each of the following concerns:2
- Loss of Governance. When moving to a cloud environment, clients relinquish control to the CP on a number of security-related issues. A gap in security defenses may also exist as service level agreements may not adequately address CP-related security requirements.
- Portability. Issues related to provider lock in are outlined in the Challenges section of this white paper on page 5.
- Isolation Failure. Multi-tenancy and collaboration are at the core of cloud computing. Resource isolation failure addresses mechanisms separating storage, memory, routing and reputation among different clients on the same cloud (e.g., guest-hopping attacks). However, it must be noted that attacks on these mechanisms are not as pervasive and much more difficult to attempt versus attacks on traditional operating systems.
- Compliance Risks. Investments in certifications (e.g., industry standard or regulatory requirements) may be compromised or lost when moving to the cloud.
- Management Interface Compromise. Security is an issue with client management interfaces with the public cloud provider. The reason? These services are provided via the internet and permit access to a larger set of resources than traditional operating systems. Security risk can dramatically increase when this is combined with remote access and web browser vulnerabilities.
- Data Protection. It may be difficult for clients to effectively check the data-handling practices of their CPs to ensure critical and sensitive data is handled lawfully and ethically. This problem can be aggravated in cases of multiple transfers of data (e.g., between federated clouds). However, it must be noted that some CPs share information on their data-handling practices with clients and others offer certification summaries on their data processing and data security activities and their various security controls (e.g., Statement on Auditing Standards 70 Certification.
- Insecure or Incomplete Data Deletion. As with most operating systems, when a request to remove a cloud resource is made, a true erase of data may not happen. Adequate or timely data deletion also may not be feasible (or undesirable from a client perspective) because extra copies of data are stored but not readily available or the disk to be destroyed also houses other data from other clients. When multi-tenancies and the reuse of hardware resources are added to the mix, this risk can increase.
- Malicious Insider. Cloud architectures necessitate the creation of certain staff positions (e.g., CP system administrators and managed security service providers) that can be extremely high risk in terms of internal security threats.
Creating a Cloud Computing Roadmap for Federal Agencies First Steps
According to, GovCloud: Cloud Computing for the Business of Government, when a government agency is ready to undertake the implementation of a cloud-based solution, it must determine which IT services, business functions and processes to deploy in the cloud environment. A five-year roadmap should be created that includes the desired order to move each of the services to the cloud for each year during that time period.3 Requirements for each service to be deployed in the cloud should be developed and a cost/benefits analysis performed to establish the rationale why each targeted service should move to the cloud.
Implementation of a Low-Risk Test Case
A low-risk test case should be implemented prior to undertaking a wholesale transfer of services to the cloud.4 This is harder than it may sound as some IT services that may seem simple to deploy to the cloud are not so easy. Four questions should be asked (and answered) to decide which IT services are best suited to live in the cloud5:
- Can compliance requirements be balanced with other IT prioirities?
- Is this an IT function or service the agency has mastered?
- Can the agency use a standardized service?
- Is the test case easily implementable?
A misconception may exist that just because an application or service being deployed to the cloud isn’t mission critical, the process will be simple and straightforward. This is not always true. If the agency is new to the cloud and wishes to establish a private cloud it will take time to determine the appropriate split of responsibilities between the service provider and the agency’s IT team.6 Compliance and liability issues can also be tricky, as defining compliance conditions and establishing liability for intellectual property protection with cloud vendors reach well beyond the IT world—and, as such, with so many moving parts may take time to properly address and resolved.7 NIST has launched the U.S. Government Cloud Computing Business Case Working Group to assist agencies with the development of cloud-compatible user cases. Email, geospatial data exchange and services management are among the first user cases currently in development.
The authors of GovCloud: Cloud Computing for the Business of Government also offer seven recommendations that must be considered during the development and implementation of an agency’s cloud roadmap:
- Own the information, even if you own nothing else. An agency must claim its right to own the information even if it doesn’t own the infrastructure, application or service associated with that information. Any agency is liable for its information—regardless of where it lives—and some education will likely be needed about this fact among its IT team. While it may be unrealistic to prevent departments from provisioning their own cloud application, the agency must institute policies and procedures to ensure it can monitor how information deployed to the cloud is managed. As it is often hard to envision future uses of information, it also is recommended that agencies make sure cloud-dwelling data can be brought back into the enterprise if needed.
- Don’t take terminology for granted. It is vital to ensure that important terminology is defined in the same way by the agency and the cloud service provider—room for different interpretation always exists. A review of information governance policies must take place to identify the areas of highest risk so authoritative definitions for vocabulary in these areas can be developed and adopted.
- Hope for standards, but prepare to integrate. In short, the cloud is young and isn’t established enough to have developed standard specifications for platform interoperability and data exchange. Strategic groundwork for future data integration needs to be laid in the early stages of any movement to the cloud. Agencies must insist that their cloud service providers provide clear documentation on the data formats and schemas used for information storage in their systems.
- Control cloud platform proliferation. Agencies should minimize the number of different cloud platforms that require support to limit information fragmentation and decrease the chance of a future huge integration effort. To the greatest extent possible, an agency’s IT team should help departments look for shared requirements in standardized business functions. The team can identify cloud platforms that meet these needs and consolidate the agency’s services on them, when possible. Not only will the ability to share information increase, this will result in greater leverage when negotiating contract terms and pricing.
- Make the information “cloud ready.” Agencies that organize their data sets well enough for use across multiple platforms will be best positioned to take advantage of cloud services, and will be better able to deploy enterprise information to the cloud more easily.IT teams need to get into the habit of encrypting data into one common format (probably XML)—a process even more important if data moves through externally operated resources to the cloud.
- Master solution integration. The shift to the cloud requires IT professionals to change their focus from owning and operating enterprise systems to becoming master information service integrators. In addition to linking legacy databases to SaaS, IT teams need to connect their private and public clouds to create a seamless technology environment that works like a single cloud custom-made for their specific enterprises.
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 746
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 5, 2016 03:00 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Feb. 5, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 690
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 5, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 328
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 5, 2016 01:15 PM EST Reads: 319
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 5, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 515
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 5, 2016 12:00 PM EST
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 5, 2016 10:15 AM EST
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 5, 2016 10:00 AM EST
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:30 AM EST Reads: 302
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 5, 2016 12:00 AM EST Reads: 306
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 2, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 391
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Feb. 2, 2016 04:30 AM EST Reads: 821
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
Feb. 1, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 903
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
Jan. 31, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 700
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
Jan. 31, 2016 07:15 PM EST Reads: 1,122
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,181
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 775
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
Jan. 30, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 741
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
Jan. 30, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 1,245