Are there answers to cloud questions?

Thursday - 9/2/2010, 11:41am EDT

The FedCloudBlog was having breakfast with a federal friend the other morning and we got talking about...well what else, cloud computing.

My friend, a long-time fed close to retirement, asked a few interesting questions about cloud so FCB figured we would ask our experts (psst...you all).

Are there any actual studies on the savings from moving e-mail or data or storage to the cloud? And if so, what are the real savings?

FCB agrees with his federal friend, there is a lot of talk about the potential savings and benefits but the information out there isn't strong on actual savings. Now, this is not to say actual savings don't exist but FCB wants some hard numbers.

We've seen ideas similar to cloud computing remember alternative service provider, SEAT management, managed services - come and go over the years and if there was real savings agencies would have jumped on those bandwagons more quickly.

FCB remembers the days when the General Services Administration had a SEAT management contract. Charlie Self, former FTS big wig, was the face behind the movement. But it took off only at a few agencies, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to name one. And eventually, the SEAT management contract went quietly away.

And ASPs never really took off either at the federal level. If FCB's memory serves us well, state governments had more success.

So are there any actual studies or analyses on the savings from cloud computing?

The second question FCB's federal friend asked...he was quite the chatty chap the other day...was about security and cloud. This is probably the most common stumbling block for agencies to jump into the cloud, especially with public clouds.

But FCB's FF asked something more specific, How does the cloud and the Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) initiative come together?

This was part of the recent discussion by the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB) meeting in August. FCB heard from its sources that there was some confusion or concern where the TIC sits outside the cloud or inside the cloud? The answer is it depends whether it's a private or public cloud.

FCB also is hearing that the Homeland Security Department is working with GSA on this exact issue. Any updates?

Finally, all of these questions and issues could come together in an upcoming Federal Cloud Computing strategy that should be out later this year, according to Sonny Bhagowalia, deputy associate administrator in GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

Bhagowalia said at the recent FedScoop conference there are a lot of case studies out there, a common definition for cloud computing from National Institute of Standards and Technology and consensus around controls and criteria. But there is not a specific roadmap for the government.

FCB hears from technology officials in and out of government that this is a common problem across this administration - a lot of ideas, but no specific direction.

FCB understands details remain thin about the strategy in terms of what it will address and how comprehensive it will be. FCB can guess it will include data center consolidation, e-mail-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service.

What do you think it should include?

FCB always is interested in ideas, comments and thoughts on where cloud is heading. Send us a note at: fcb@federalnewsradio.com.