CIO Council panel to take buzz out of cloud computing

Monday - 11/9/2009, 6:42pm EST

Peter Tseronis talking with WFED's Jason Miller

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
FederalNewsRadio

The Chief Information Officer's Council is trying to tap down the buzz around cloud computing.

The council is reviewing 15-to-20 pages of comments from a recent survey that its new Cloud Computing Advisory Panel sent out this summer, says Pete Tseronis, deputy associate CIO with the Energy Department and co-chairman of the panel.

"What is unique about this information is this is the voice of customers," Tseronis says after he moderated a discussion on cloud computing at a recent AFFIRM lunch in Washington. "We asked what are you hearing beyond the buzz or what do you want to hear about? What is cloud? How do you deploy a public-private hybrid cloud? Things like that."

Tseronis says the comments generally fell into five categories:

  • Security and data privacy
  • Standards
  • Deployment and migration strategies
  • Capital planning
  • Development of and monitoring of service level agreements

The advisory panel likely will break into working groups to address each of these issues, Tseronis says.

He adds the preliminary working groups include standards, communications and outreach and operational excellence, which will address acquisition and other longer-term maintenance issues.

"The key is those are the areas that require information flow," he says. "We need to share information with the customers and decide what are the best methods for transmitting that information such as Webinars or white papers or conferences."

The panel still is relatively new and figuring out how it will move forward. It is made up senior agency officials that understand both the architecture and business aspects of technology. Tseronis says he believes the panel will meet monthly initially.

"The panel's objectives are to provide federal agency feedback and input on cloud computing initiatives and directives, to support the cloud program management office and its subcommittees with federal subject matter expertise, to support cross functional collaboration and approve cloud computing deliverables to the executive steering committee," Tseronis says.

"We are sharing success stories and pilots so agencies get ideas on how use cloud computing and go back to their own organizations and implement it."

Tseronis says the panel will bring in guest speakers such as during the first meeting someone from the Defense Information Systems Agency spoke about the Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE).

Tseronis adds that vendors also are part of the discussion and some has signed non-disclosure agreements to participate in these meetings.

An initial best practice that already has come out of this panel is how to sell cloud computing to senior managers who may not understand the concept.

Tseronis says this technology is a good selling point as agencies need to refresh their hardware and infrastructure.

"You can gauge where you want to be in the cloud environment by looking at the age of your equipment and infrastructure and start thinking about what is the cost of doing the refresh, the cost of not doing it or the cost of just paying a utility bill monthly in regards to infrastructure," he says.

"Vendors are saying agencies shouldn't buy any more and lease from them, and they will take care of all the refresh and updates."

The council has yet to do any study in terms of potential savings from moving an agency's technical refresh to the cloud.

"Vendors usually tell you if you lease instead of buy there is a return on investment calculator and total cost of ownership that needs to be factored into it," he says.

"But what you can't quantify necessarily with just replacing equipment is the ability to off load some of the maintenance that keeps the lights on and moving from steady state and into this idea of innovation. You can free up resources and time spent on code, replacing equipment and outages and let the vendor take care of that maintenance angle."

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