Archive for the ‘Governments’ use of the cloud’ Category

A new goldmine: making official data public could spur lots of innovation


Government data


18 May 2013 – After a Soviet missile shot down a South Korean airliner that strayed into Russian airspace in 1983, President Ronald Reagan made America’s military satellite-navigation system, GPS, available to the world. Entrepreneurs pounced. Car-navigation, precision farming and 3m American jobs now depend on GPS. Official weather data are also public and avidly used by everyone from insurers to ice-cream sellers.

But this is not enough. On May 9th Barack Obama ordered that all data created or collected by America’s federal government must be made available free to the public, unless this would violate privacy, confidentiality or security. “Open and machine-readable”, the president said, is “the new default for government information.”

This is a big bang for big data, and will spur a frenzy of activity. Pollution numbers will affect property prices. Restaurant reviews will mention official sanitation ratings. Data from tollbooths could be used to determine prices for nearby billboards. Combining data from multiple sources will yield fresh insights. For example, correlating school data with transport information and tax returns may show that academic performance

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How The Feds Drive Cloud Innovation

12 November 2012 – The coolest cloud computing application in the world — and in our solar system — comes from NASA. The space agency is using commercial cloud services to process the digital images being transmitted to Earth from the Curiosity rover as it searches for signs of life on Mars.

Those images, taken by 17 cameras mounted to the six-wheel, SUV-like rover, are an incredible scientific trove, stored and managed by Amazon Web Services. The most recent images show the rover’s robotic arm taking the first scoops of Martian soil for analysis. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is using a variety of Amazon services — EC2, S3, SimpleDB, Route 53, CloudFront, Relational Database Service, Simple Workflow, CloudFormation, Elastic Load Balancing–to make this happen. And the images are available not just to NASA scientists, but to you and me as well. “The public gets access as soon as we have access,” says Khawaja Shams, manager of data services at JPL.

For more from InformationWeek click here.

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A Big Data Road Map for Government

3 October 2012 – No entity produces, gathers and stores more data than the American government. So the challenges and opportunities of so-called Big Data loom large for the many agencies and departments of the United States government.

The Obama administration acknowledged that reality last spring when it announced a major research initiative in Big Data computing in government, with funding commitments that totaled $200 million.  Research is one step, but to really harness the Big Data opportunity there needs to be a proliferation of useful projects across government. The goal, of course, is to find insights and make better decisions using data from traditional databases as well as from the fast-growing new sources of digital data, including the Web, biological and industrial sensors, video, e-mail and social network communications.
A road map for rolling out Big Data projects in government is being released on Wednesday, “Demystifying Big Data: A Practical Guide to Transforming the Business of Government.” The report was produced by the TechAmerica Foundation, a nonprofit education organization, in consultation with technology experts in the White House, Internal … Read more

The Department of Defense Cloud Computing Strategy


25 July 2012 – The U.S. Department of Defense released its cloud computing strategy that will move the department’s current network applications from a duplicative, cumbersome, and costly set of application silos to an end state designed to create a more agile, secure, and cost effective service environment that can rapidly respond to changing mission needs. In addition, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has been named as the enterprise cloud service broker to help maintain mission assurance and information interoperability within this new strategy.

“We are moving to an enterprise cloud environment that provides tangible benefits across the department by supporting the delivery of the joint information environment, from the continental United States to the warfighter at the tactical edge. This strategy lays the groundwork, as part of the Joint Information Environment framework, for achieving cloud adoption within the department,” said Teri Takai, Defense Department chief information officer. “It focuses on the creation of department core data centers, enterprise cloud infrastructure and sustainment of cloud services.”

We have read it and it is quite a remarkable document.  For an … Read more

Why Poor Data Classification in Government Will Impact Bring Your Own Device

20 January 2012 – In recent discussions with IT leaders from both federal and Department of Defense sides of US government, representatives stated that they are having a heck of a time accommodating expansive growth in mobile computing. This is critical given that today, in most cases, agencies and departments still have control over which mobile devices can be used. In the future, these executives realize that the changing demographics of contractors and employees means they will not only need to support continually growing traffic, multiple presentations and increased asset management, but will also have to deal with a wide spectrum of mobile devices due to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

This idea that these executives will one day soon have to loosen their grip over endpoints is a major concern. Contrary to belief it is not about power and supremacy over their domain.  Most users have no concept of the level of complexity for managing access and availability of data and applications when there is no control over the endpoint; nor should they. While network security solutions have improved … Read more

How To Build A Government Cloud

7 October 2011 – The federal government’s cloud computing strategy reached a milestone recently when the Department of Homeland Security became the first federal agency to sign up for infrastructure as a service through the General Services Administration. But the path there wasn’t fast or easy, or anything like what was first envisioned.

Rewind to September 2009, when Vivek Kundra, the federal CIO at the time, announced the launch of, a GSA-operated site that would serve as an apps store where agencies could subscribe to a range of cloud services with point-and-click ease. Some apps–easy stuff like personal productivity tools–became available quickly. For example, government employees with the proper credentials can subscribe to Microsoft Exchange for $16.82 per month with USA.Net, a provider of hosted email services.

Infrastructure as a service has been a tougher nut to crack. It was a full two years from the time was announced until DHS last month signed up for IaaS services through a blanket purchase agreement managed by GSA.

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What’s at stake in the cloud?

4 October 2011 – The new federal strategy for implementing cloud-computing solutions is called “Cloud First”— and with good reason. We now systematically prefer cloud-computing solutions to those based on local servers and laptops. The allure of efficiencies, economies of scale, high-end services and — most importantly — reduced costs are almost irresistible.

But, as American governments at the federal, state and local levels rush headlong toward cloud computing, wouldn’t it be wise to pause and ask, “What’s at stake?”

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GSA Eases Cloud Computing Procurement for Federal Government


Cloud computing certification, contract negotiations, and pricing terms already in place for federal agencies

15 September 2011 —  Last week there was a cloud computing and virtualization event in Washington DC for federal IT professionals.  As part of former federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s plan, federal agencies have adopted a “cloud-first” policy toward all IT projects.

While most people understand the rationale for this, there are still a number of cloud computing hurdles to overcome to make this vision a reality.  Cloud security remains a big issue but there are others as well.  Since cloud computing is still relatively new, many agencies simply don’t know how to consume cloud services even if they want to.  To be more specific, there are lots of questions that need to be answered before jumping to the cloud.  How do you negotiate a contract that covers all of your technical and legal needs? How do you assess a cloud providers financial stability, technical integrity, and disaster recovery processes?  How do you know if you are getting a fair deal?

Enter the General Services Administration (GSA) … Read more

Cloud-Computing Contracts for U.S. Should Avoid ‘IT Cartel’

8 September 2011 – The U.S. government should write cloud-computing contracts so that agencies can easily move from one provider to another, increasing competition and keeping costs low, the former federal chief information officer said.

“We’ve got to make sure that as you construct these contracts, the way they’re written and the way the agencies manage these contracts, you have the flexibility to pull away and move to the next platform,” Vivek Kundra said in an interview in San Francisco last week. “So it’s not like you have a single player over any of these spaces.”

While serving as U.S. CIO from March 2009 until he resigned last month, Kundra pushed agencies to shift computer systems and functions such as financial management, e-mail and websites to the cloud. One of Kundra’s goals in the initiative was to replace contracts that have locked agencies into proprietary systems developed and operated by a few contractors, a situation that he said keeps the government’s technology costs high.

Kundra estimated that $20 billion the government spends on federal technology systems can be moved to … Read more

U.S. Department of Defense Seeks Balanced ‘Cloud’ Computing Solution

7 September 2011 – Defense Department officials are looking to balance efficiency, effectiveness and security while moving away from its decentralized network of computer servers and data centers and into “cloud” computing, DOD’s deputy chief information officer said today.

“We must balance all three,” said Robert J. Carey, who is also the deputy assistant secretary of defense for information management, integration and technology. “We have to serve the information needs of our warfighters, as well as the people back here in the ivory towers.”

A typical military installation may serve 50,000 users, Carey told the audience. “That makes our world complex,” he said, “and everything needs to be thought through well.”

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