Adrian Gardner, chief information officer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, recently sat down with FedScoop Radio to discuss a number of major projects he’s working on, trends in federal government and outlined his priorities going forward.
Below is an edited transcript of the interview.
FedScoop: I know you are doing a ton of great things at NASA these days. Can you talk about some of the main projects you are currently working on?
Gardner: I have been here about two and half years and, my first year or so, what I did was work heavily on developing a strategic plan for IT for my center, and the way that the center then enables the mission of NASA in general.
We have embarked on this journey of actually linking IT directly, like direct line of sight, to the center’s mission and its capabilities and recognizing that IT could and can provide increased agility if presented an opportunity to modernize the physical assets of the center, and then we could also enhance productivity.
One of the major challenges we have here is the whole big data challenge that the center has, because we have a large number of NASA’s big data stores here on resident in Goddard Space Flight Center.
Working along with that and in general always keeping in mind the issues of security and risk management and incorporating that in a strategic direction for the center. We got that signed off on last October, and now what we have been doing is really embarking on the tactical implementation of the strategic plan.
What I mean by that is we have been working on a number of big data efforts to include moving some of our data, opening our data into a data storage cloud. We have been looking heavily at a virtual desktop infrastructure and how that will impact and enable mobility of our workforce, and then looking also at the number of efforts around security with advance persistent threats. Really taking on an effort to look at that and attack that problem in an aggressive manner.
The last thing is really strengthening our ability to provide collaborative capabilities to our scientist and engineers, because the number of things we do here at Goddard Space Flight Center are not just done here locally on the center, but also in other geographical areas, to include foreign countries.
The ability to provide our scientist and engineers the capability to collaborate real time with the development of our satellite capabilities, but also the sharing of earth science data and then working collaboratively to pull together products and services, is extremely important.
FedScoop: How about over the next couple of months? What are going to be your main priorities going forward?
Gardner: The main priority I have right now is we have virtual desktop infrastructure pilot underway. We plan to complete that in September. The other thing is we have a private cloud that we stood up initially in sort of a test kind of approach, but now we are moving forward with operationalizing that. My goal for operationalizing that is somewhere towards the end of October, and then looking at the whole data center consolidation effort that a number of agencies are facing.
We are looking at sort of a containerized compute capability here as a mechanism or an approach for dealing with data center consolidation. What I mean by that is we’re trying to basically consolidate down to about three major data centers here on the center, and the cloud and our containerized compute is part of that solution.
FedScoop: How about across the government? What are they doing?
Gardner: A couple of the other things I do is I play really heavily in the information sharing efforts that are underway in the federal government. I’m on the CIO Council under the strategic planning committee.
I actually am the sub-committee co-chair for the information sharing sub-committee. One of the the things that we’re doing is looking at this whole notion of information sharing across the federal government and engaging in a lot of the efforts of geospatial. Looking at making connections and collaborating with folks that are in the information sharing environment that have primarily focused on a number of the homeland security activities. And then also looking at data.gov and the POC groups there. Working with the data.gov PMO under GSA to continue to open up the data stores of the U.S. government with the hopes that’s going to provide more openness and transparency from the standpoint of the way the citizens view of government, but also as an opportunity for, in my opinion, priming the pump for industries to create new businesses and industry opportunities.
The other thing is we’ve really been working to collaborate again on the security front. Working with other agencies to look at how information, security information and vulnerability information can be more widely shared in a timely manner in order to help the overall government response.
FedScoop: Are there any projects or initiatives you would love to undertake in the next couple months, as you’re able to kind of find some time or any kind of pet projects that you would really like to get to?
Gardner: Cloud is on the front of everyone’s mind, and it’s on mine as well. One of the things that we’ve been working with GSA, DOE, Department of Homeland Security and a number of other agencies is looking at this whole notion of sort of cloud brokering. I am very much engaged in those discussions. I think that will yield great benefit not only for our agency but also for the government as a whole.
The other thing is really looking at different ways of delivering services. In the past, that open source is kind of not necessarily in the family as far as government agencies, but I think you find us now really looking at open source opportunities to kind of continue to push the envelope if, you will, from a standpoint of meeting the expectations or our customers.
So, very much we want to continue to have discussions with a number of the open source cloud providers to include OpenStack, and we’ve been working heavily with Eucalyptus and others, and also engaging private sector and looking at their cloud service practices. I really want to continue to be an informed consumer about what is really happening in the space of cloud.
The other piece is looking at how we can deal with the whole issue of trying to mobilize our workforce using the new tools and technologies that are hitting the marketplace. My greatest concern there is security and also managing the data, so I think this whole notion of data management is one of those things that we have to continue to keep our eye on, and I plan to definitely focus on over the next couple months.