Why you can’t decide (And what to do about it)
May 27, 2016
Commentary: The rapidly changing digital world can leave tech executives feeling overwhelmed when they're faced with charting the course of their company's cybersecurity strategy.
David Stegon was a staff reporter for FedScoop and StateScoop from 2011-2014.
James Bond, Chief Technologist, HP Enterprise Services, U.S. Public Sector – Security and Intelligence, and Scott Gaydos, Chief Technologist, HP Enterprise Services, U.S. Public Sector – Federal Healthcare, recently sat down with FedScoop Radio to discuss a viewpoint paper they recently authored discussing strategies that can be implemented to optimize the data center for cloud computing in the future.
FedScoop: HP recently featured a newsletter that was featured inside a Gartner report examining strategies that can be implemented today to optimize the data center for cloud computing in the future. Scott, to start with you, can you just talk a little bit about what was in the Gartner report and what was HP’s viewpoint paper that was contained within it.
Gaydos: The paper that Gartner and HP put together talked about a couple of different subjects. The first part talks a bit about trends that we selectively see affecting client cloud strategies over the next couple of years, and then we talk a little bit about various recommendations and viewpoints on what we see as the data center of the future and how cloud services play into that.
Finally, we get into some very specifics that James and I were a large part of, looking at real world issues that we see in ongoing adoption in federal cloud computing. Basically, taking a look at just some of the real items that you see, say behind the curtains of when we try to implement cloud and cloud services within the government space.
For instance, one of the things that we clearly see in the real world is that there really isn’t a single on-ramp or one really maturity path to cloud. So, different federal clients coming in at different aspects, some perhaps starting with infrastructure as a service others doing software as a service.
One is not necessarily better than the other. What it really ends up being is, it ends up being the return on investment for a particular federal agency. So, those are some of the kinds of things that we get into the details around looking at real world and behind the curtain issues with federal clients.
FedScoop: And James, what were your thoughts on what was contained in the viewpoint paper?
Bond: Well, we see a lot of government customers that are at different phases of their adoption. Many are just now putting out RFI’s or doing their research on cloud and asking the industry in general what they should be doing and how they should do things.
So, that’s a great start while other government agencies have actually some home grown cloud life. Not necessarily full cloud, but they have started some cloud-ish technologies and want to figure out how to adopt that a little bit.
What I have seen quite a bit variety here in different agencies, very few standards. We are probably going to talk about that a little later but FedRAMP is finally coming out with some standards. But prior to that the agencies were kind of on their own and using very little guidance. So now they are a little bit more structured this time, and we are mostly talking with them about hybrid clouds these days.
FedScoop: That leads right into my next question, James. When you mean hybrid cloud, what exactly do you mean by that, and why do you think it is a good option for government going forward?
Bond: Well, its kind of ironic, I like to say, every customer I have talked to so far particularly government, like all of the aspects of cloud such as pay as you go, dynamic expandability and lower cost points.
They like all of the characteristics of cloud and they always refer, quite often refer, to public cloud and or private clouds features, and about five minutes ten minutes into the conversation gathering detailed requirements the stance, the security stance that the government needs and the level of customization that they seem to want.
Suddenly, it takes you from a public cloud model straight into hybrid and private. So, they basically want a hybrid brokering type of model seems to be the trend that we end up with once you get down to the weeds of the requirements.
The hybrid cloud, being a combination of some internally hosted server farms and applications, some applications could be publicly hosted by different providers. But the key point in hybrid is that it does span multiple providers quite often. It also spans existing government data centers and assets.
There are millions and millions applications out there that the government already has rolled out so therefore it’s a matter of trying to bridge that gap. So therefore the hybrid cloud broker , is what we call it, is some key technology that are up and coming.
FedScoop: So, Scott, what do you see going forward in the government? Why is a hybrid cloud a good option in your opinion?
Gaydos: The point that James made there around the applications really starts to become where the rubber meets the road for the hybrid environment. What we really see as real value for federal clients that are implementing cloud solutions is this concept of not just hybrid cloud, but hybrid apps themselves.
Where, in this case, an example of that would be where a particular federal agency has some public cloud application that they use and, in this case, that application is storing data within a public cloud environment, but the application and the users need access to data that is behind the firewall of a particular federal agency's private data center environment or their private cloud environment.
This is some of the real needs that we’re seeing both in government, whether it's government employees or even more so when you’re talking citizen-centric facing applications. This is a real need in government. It’s one of the core drivers behind why hybrid so much becomes the primary answer when you’re looking at cloud and cloud services in federal.
FedScoop: Scott, to follow up on that, how do you see cloud computing kind of developing for the federal government over the next year or so, and what trends within cloud computing do you think are going to be at the forefront?
Gaydos: There are a couple of youth cases and scenarios that we really start to see that are coming out. Real world youth cases that are driving the government. One happens to be around dev tests. The idea of development and test platforms offered via cloud services. Be they on premise services within a government agency data center or externally as well. We see the idea of applications development and testing environments really being a driving factor over the next year plus for government agencies.
FedScoop: And, James, what kind of trends do you think we’ll be seeing?
Bond: Well, traditionally we’re seeing the customers quite often start in as Scott mentioned in the very first part of the interview. They start with whatever is their primary problem area, or where they are going to get their best return on their investment.
So, we’re seeing in two areas. One is infrastructure as a service, which is a very late dev test, but not more generic, we call these production servers, and they quite often implement infrastructure as a service as the starting point. Then, we’ll go on and add dev test, software or service or platforms later on.
We’re also seeing a lot of update on email. So, really email is software as a service. Quite a few agencies have gone first with that largely because it was easy, low-hanging fruit to tackle and, frankly, a lot of agencies were already consolidating email systems anyway. So, they simply wanted a more managed email service, put some automation in front of it and call it cloud. Technically, it would be called software as a service at that point.
Email was an easy one because they had already pretty much started that initiative in many of the different agencies. Last thing we’re seeing is workplace as a service or virtual desktops.
We’re seeing a lot of agencies that are planning to deploy that, quite a few projects in place right now that are going forward both in pilot mode and some in production where they’re expecting to get rid of some of the heavy thick desktops and put in thin client technology and mobile devices to allow their workers to log in to the cloud to get their full operating system desktop and applications.
This is going to help them save their budget. Again, they have twenty percent budget cuts this year in some agencies, so this is an immediate savings they’re trying to achieve a big burst in desktop interest this year.
[audio:http://fedscoop.com/radio/wp-content/uploads/FedSc... the New Era of Data Center and Cloud Services]