Technology, Cloud

‘Cloud First’ tips, tricks and tools that any CIO can use, courtesy of the U.S. Federal government

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Hat’s off to Vivek Kundra, U.S. Chief Information Officer.  He gets my vote as federal employee of the month, if not the year. He has set a high bar for cloud computing adoption—all with the aim to save taxpayer dollars, make government IT more efficient and better serve American citizens.  Is it possible that the federal government is taking the lead and implementing cloud more aggressively and sooner than its private enterprise counterparts? 

Whether you are in the public or the private sector, if you haven’t read the "Federal Cloud Computing Strategy" paper, I urge you to do so.  Kundra is ahead of most organizations with the creation and publication of a clear, concise cloud computing strategy for federal agencies to read and follow.  As I discussed in an earlier blog, according to recent TPI research only five percent of companies have a strategic program for cloud computing. 

In my opinion, the federal cloud strategy document could be used as a template for any organization wanting to create a cloud strategy.  And with a sound strategy, not only do you have a blueprint to follow, but you also have a visible document to garner the executive commitment needed.

Speaking of executive commitment, Kundra has the full backing of the Obama Administration.  The report, published on official White House stationery, clearly articulates the administration’s cloud commitment—‘Cloud First.’    All federal government agencies are required to consider the cloud first when expanding or upgrading IT capabilities. Specifically, Kundra mandates that all federal IT managers must identify three services that can move to the cloud and create a cloud migration plan for each.  One of the services has to be implemented fully in the cloud within 12 months and the other two within 18 months.

But Kundra doesn’t make a mandate and walk away.  He provides a wealth of tips, tricks and tools of value to any CIO.   In a section called Decision Framework for Cloud Migration he outlines a methodology you can use to determine what services are cloud-ready today and what can be considered for later migration. The framework shows IT executives how to choose, provision and then manage services in the cloud.  Finally the Fed’s CIO provides a number of case studies illustrating how these Federal agencies successfully migrated toward cloud services using the decision framework.   (By the way, one of the case studies features an IAAS solution deployed by the The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).)   There is also a great appendix listing resources helpful to any CIO.

But, what I found most compelling is the federal government’s philosophy regarding the changing role of the CIO. ‘Cloud First’s’ real lasting value might be in its greater objective to implement a massive mind shift in how the Federal government views IT.  It’s very similar to our philosophy that says today’s CIO’s must shift from being service providers to becoming service brokers.  (See Christian Verstrate’s post:  The CIO as the Strategic Service Broker.)

To quote from the report, “Organizations that previously thought of IT as an investment in locally owned and operated applications, servers, and networks will now need to think of IT in terms of services, com­moditized computing resources, agile capacity provisioning tools, and their enabling effect for American citizens. This new way of thinking will have a broad impact across the entire IT service lifecycle – from capability inception through delivery and operations.”

But the big takeaway here--start drafting your cloud strategy now.  If your competition has a strategy and you don’t, you’ve given them a competitive advantage.   According to new HP research, senior executives believe that 18 percent of their IT delivery will be via the public cloud and 28 percent by private cloud by 2015.  So, take a page from the federal government program and start thinking now about what services make sense to move to the cloud and begin to craft your own strategy, before circumstances or the competition force you to make a decision.

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Paul Calento 255 Points | Tue, 03/08/2011 - 15:44

While the cloud brings efficiency and flexibility, it also requires a change in thinking from the "need something, buy something" mindset that you (Julie) call "massive mindshift" that often defines IT.

Common excuses: As one example, I shake my head everytime someone mentions security as the reason to avoid the cloud. I'd argue that for some, its an excuse for status quo IT. Government advocacy of the cloud will mute this excuse.

Business transformation driven by tech: Much like Weber's concept of "Gemeinschaft to gesselschaft" (community to society), we're moving froman environment of devices, apps and networks to a services-focused environment. Techology enables this evolution (which is ongoing and well-documented), but company culture is needed to to embrace it. Kundra's validation of a cloud strategy helps push this forward more than probably any single technology or vendor could. --Paul Calento



John Dodge 1534 Points | Wed, 03/09/2011 - 14:08

Kundra's endorsement of the cloud is a start, but the feds setting an example is checkered at best. Healthcare reform passed, but lest we say not everyone is on board with it.

The cloud, obviously, is less controversial, but it has its detractors. I'd like to hear the counter arguments. Googling "reasons not to adopt the cloud" drew these links, among many others (Kundra's decision to adopt is the last one). There's plenty of anti cloudites in face of what appears to be a cloud tsunami. 

  1. 10 Reasons Enterprises Aren't Ready to Trust the Cloud: Tech News ...

    Jul 1, 2008 ... My belief and experience says that small businesses will adopt the cloud ......10 Reasons Not to Trust the Clouds – It's a trendy buzzword ... - Cached - Similar
  2. 40% of executives not planning to adopt the cloud

    Jan 19, 2011 ... 40% of executives not planning to adopt the cloud ... For companies that donot have plans to use cloud computing the main reasons are data ... - Cached
  3. Feds To Adopt 'Cloud First' IT Policy - Slashdot

    Dec 11, 2010 ... Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (Score:4, Funny) ..... the real world, decisions are usually for a number of reasonsnot just one. ... - Cached
  4.  - 




Charles Bess 93 Points | Mon, 03/07/2011 - 22:11

The first think your post made me think about is the relationship between a “cloud first” and a “mobile first” approach. What are the dependencies? Are they both dependent on each other??

I definitely think the cloud first approach enables the mobile first approach, but I'd be interested other perspectives. They're not 100% dependant today, but maybe in the future...

John Dodge 1534 Points | Mon, 03/07/2011 - 22:04

Hi Judy,

Welcome to the Enterprise CIO Forum.

I would agree Kundra's mandate and report are powerful. As I pored over it, I kept saying to myself "I wished he'd offer examples." And indeed, he does with the Army's CRM system and cloud efforts at the USDA and Defense Information Systems Agency, among others.

I may blog on this effort and the report's specifics. Required reading for CIOs, especially those on the fence about cloud computing. That said, I don't want missile launch codes in the cloud! 

John Dodge, community manager