Agencies see cloud, mobile computing as a path to interoperability

Wednesday - 3/26/2014, 1:33pm EDT

Lauren Larson, coordinating producer, Federal News Radio

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"Forget about bring-your-own-device, it's bring your own cloud," said Pamela Wise- Martinez, senior strategic enterprise architect for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

That was the message Wise-Martinez offered to a group of federal and industry officials Tuesday as she kicked off the three-day event focused on cloud and mobility at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md.

"People want to bring everything with them," Wise-Martinez said.

The biggest challenge across the federal government is making legacy applications interoperable. She said mobility is driving that change.

Dawn Leaf, deputy chief information officer at the Labor Department, said the cloud model is very much driven by the end user. She said once the Labor Department moved email to the cloud there was an immediate demand to make it available on all devices.

Wise-Martinez said Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are king.

"Build them faster, build them interoperable, build them cheaper, build them portable — and portable is really just an instantiation of interoperability — build them open and build them secure," she said, adding those things should be "baked in" to an agencies' strategic plan.

The biggest concern with mobility is safety, said Bob Flores, founder and president of Applicology Inc.

Flores spent 31 years in the U.S. intelligence community. He said the Internet was created with security as an afterthought and the same has happened with mobility. Combine mobility with cloud and the issue is exacerbated, he said.

Laying the groundwork

Robert Bohn, NIST's cloud computing technical director, said the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) requirements only gives agencies about 80 percent of the controls they need. Then it becomes the agency's responsibility to make sure it secures the remaining controls and tailors them to the specific needs of the agency.

And that's where NIST can help.

The Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap identifies the high priority requirements that are needed for an agency to fully adopt the cloud.

Helping agencies move to the cloud successfully starts with the basics. The Metrics Project at NIST is defining the measurements and vocabulary for cloud computing so everyone is speaking the same language and service level agreements are precise.

Bohn said NIST will focus on interoperability and portability over the next year.

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