As the cloud providers who formed a line to undergo the intensive FedRAMP vetting process begin to receive authorization from the GSA Joint Authorization Board, the federal government’s commitment to cloud computing has never been more tangible.
The question for cloud providers and buyers alike is no longer “will the federal government embrace the cloud?” It has become “what next?”
A panel with ties to the private, public and academic sectors broached that question at the Federal Cloud Computing Summit held December 17 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.
Moderated by AMARC President and Executive Director Dan Mintz, the panel focused on the impending convergence of cloud computing and increasingly ubiquitous mobile technology.
Every mobile initiative (an organization takes on) is an opportunity to go and use cloud,” said panelist Chris Kemp, former NASA CTO, who founded the cloud computing company Nebula. “A good chance to design something (created) to run in a mobile environment. There is an entire generation that will only use mobile technology to interact with you, so it’s important to make that a good experience.”
The rise of mobile also has significant implication for data centers. According to Dr. David Rogers, a research associate at the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training, data centers which notoriously require vast amounts of power just to keep cool, will benefit from technology used in cell phones and other mobile devices.
The potential for a sea change thanks to cloud-enabled mobile technology extends to education. The potential exists for federal agencies to leverage these advancements to expand employee education opportunities.
“Providers of education will be able to exploit mobility and context awareness,” said Adam Porter, a Computer Science professor at the University of Maryland. “We are going to redefine who is a learner. Our bosses will be learners; clients will be learners, and the general public will be learners.”
For the employee education to succeed, Porter suggested that agencies focus on narrow, specific topics which are well-defined.
“You need to know what is being taught, and how to know (if it has been learned).”
As is always the case, however, security remains a primary concern when discussing what could soon be possible at the enterprise level.
Irena Bojanova, professor and program director of Information and Technology Systems at University of Maryland, University College, told the crowd to consider carefully their own organization’s requirements and the capabilities of service providers.
“Organizations should be well educated on where security concerns come from (and make their cloud decisions accordingly). It is also good homework to get to know cloud providers and what they have to offer.”
Complicating the matter of expanding cloud and mobile technologies and leveraging the data possibilities they offer have been the recent scandals focused on public sector overreach into personal data. Dr. Rogers, however, is hopeful that the right balance can be struck:
“There is a lack of trust in the public’s perception of big data and suspicion toward collection of information,” Rogers said. “But at the same time, information is like the currency of modern times; technology races ahead and our culture races to catch up.”
This entry was written by John Adams, CGI, summarizing the panel that I moderated at the December, 2013, Federal Cloud Computing Summit. It will be cross-posted also at the AMARC website, www.amarcedu.org.