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Federal Agencies Move to Cloud Applications

Published: April 07, 2014
Josh Jaquish is a technology and business consulting executive with nearly 20 years of experience. Read More

Despite security concerns and a few complications, United States federal agencies are transitioning to cloud computing in an effort to abide by the Obama administration's Cloud First directive. As opposed to building deployments on-premise, government authorities have hired private vendors to implement the systems

A Few Hurdles to Jump

Many national public organizations handle a massive amount of data on a daily basis, stored and processed in facilities specifically built for data centers. Despite the expanse of these machines, the amount of traffic they can handle is limited. Although a system upgrade is possible, the option remains financially obsolete in the face of a private cloud solution.

However, cheaper doesn't always mean easier. Richard Walker, a contributor to InformationWeek, stated that many federal agencies may encounter legal issues when transferring their electronic records into the cloud. Jason Baron, former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), stated that authorities need to prioritize e-recordkeeping with security to promote a comprehensive view of cloud migration.

Walker stated that an August 2012 memorandum issued by the Office of Management and Budget requires federal agencies to manage all email records in an electronic format by the end of 2016. By 2019, organizations must prepare all permanent records for transfer to NARA so that all documents can be preserved in e-format.

Military Leading the Way

One department jumping on the cloud applications bandwagon is the U.S. Army. In a separate article, InformationWeek writer Henry Kenyon stated that the organization is expanding its desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) capabilities in the Pentagon. When the transition is complete, the Defense Department claims that it will reduce operating costs, improve security and decrease the time it takes to patch and update software.

After a trial program tested 200 confidential and 200 unclassified stations, the success of the preliminary deployment convinced the Army's Information Technology Agency to aggrandize the solution. Tom Sasala, the organization's CTO, stated that Pentagon expansion has been approved, but whether or not Army headquarters will utilize the program has been undecided.

"The converged IT architecture greatly reduces operating costs and the need for administrative staff," Sasala told Kenyon. "The Army's DaaS program requires only six system administrators, compared to the 100 support personnel needed to run a large legacy datacenter."

As other agencies prepare their records for electronic storage, further military usage of cloud computing platforms will allow combative entities to access data faster, thus making life-saving decisions in half the time it previously took.

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