Is Cloud the Be-All-End-All Technology? Plus Your Weekend Reads – Fiscal Cliff Edition

Welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

Headlines of the Week:

Our Issue of the Week: Looks at Cloud computing in 2012

2012 might very well go down as the year of major tech trends, we saw the emergence of big data and data analytics, mobile, agile and shared services. But one major tech trend really came into its own in 2012 and was cloud computing.

More agencies than ever signed on for cloud. We heard from Linda Cureton at NASA about how her agency has moved email to the cloud.

But maybe no agency has taken on cloud computing quite like the Recovery Board. Shawn Kingsbury is the CIO at the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board. Kingsbury has penned a white paper looking at the biggest challenge and practical tips for cloud adoption. He interviewed 30 federal and industry experts on the issue.

Chris Dorobek caught up with Mr. Kingsbury at a GITEC event earlier this month. Shawn told Chris that right now agencies have signed on the cloud computing train and now they are trying to figure out how to use it.

“With cloud you can offload a lot of your workload constraints,” said Kingsbury.

Biggest Challenges:

  1. Procurement, “For federal agencies considering moving to the Cloud, the big change is in procurement, not technology. The key is to remove the technology from the business equation.To do so, they need to overhaul long-held procurement practices,which is a major culture shift. Only now is the federal government using acquisition methods for information technology (IT) that have been commonplace for decades. How we budget for and purchase utilities is how we should be paying for IT services. Pay for what you use as you use it,” said Kingsbury.
  2. Culture, “Within any federal agency you have a bureaucracy, a pace that the agency moves, there is sometimes a culture where they don’t pull the trigger fast enough. When things are out of their comfort zone they aren’t brought to the top of the priorities list,” said Kingsbury, “we have to change that.”

Practical Tips

  1. Gather your leaders and champions
    1. Find a leader who will get things done, and this means someone who isn’t afraid to stick their neck out.
    2. Gather other champions needed for a successful Cloud experience, including those from the CIO, CFO, security, general counsel, contracting, and law enforcement offices.
  2. Don’t go it alone or try to reinvent the wheel
    1. Talk to other organizations and learn from them, and don’t limit yourself to federal agencies; reach out to states, local governments, and private industry about their experiences.
    2. Recognize that you need an integrator or partner in the journey.
  3. Select an approach that matches your culture
    1. You need either a talented IT technical team that is well versed in Cloud technology, contracts, policy, and security or a contractor to take the risks and be accountable to you.
    2. Identify your barriers to entry and address them upfront, typically culture, contracts, and security/privacy.
    3. Don’t move something to a Cloud just because everyone else is doing it; make sure it makes sense for your enterprise.
  4. Educate, educate, educate

Your Weekend Reads: Fiscal Cliff Edition

  • The National Journal asks do the Democrats have a fiscal cliff checkmat? “Democrats look at the political landscape and see a win whether a deal gets cut now or after the country goes over the cliff. Worst-case scenario, they say, the House will approve legislation the Senate passed in July extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone but the rich, an idea that Republican House Speaker John Boehner has flatly rejected.”
  • Federal News Radio columnist Mike Causey speculates about the true risks and bonuses of the fiscal cliff. “Going over the cliff and then crashing into mandatory sequestration cuts would be bad. How bad? So bad it would make the Mayan calendar’s predicted end of the world seem like a slap-down among drunks at your town’s seediest bar. At least according to dire predictions from some economists, unions, lobbyists and politicians including those — in the White House and Congress — who created the ticking political time-bomb they are now trying to defuse. The stated purpose of the exercise was to force the nation to make some tough fiscal choices. The unstated reason, many believe, was to make the opposition party look like the real villains, setting the stage for the 2014 congressional elections.”

  • The National Journal has also put together a comedy reel of fiscal cliff confusion.

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