Duffner Interviews Kemp and Jackson on GovCloud

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Kevin L. Jackson


Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Mr. Robert Duffner, director of Product Management for Windows Azure, as part of his "Thought Leaders in the Cloud" series. 

In this interview, we discussed:

  • Actual government IT successes, especially using cloud computing
  • Deconstructing the hype around cloud computing and talking about its real characteristics and value
  • How clouds need a critical mass to function and provide elasticity, and how the size of the US places it in a strong position to develop these kinds of clouds
  • Industry transition from system integration to service integration
  • Use of clouds among defense departments and other organizations with other high security requirements
  • Synergy between cloud computing and geospatial data

"First of all, I think there is a lot of misunderstanding around cloud computing. Many people I talk to think cloud computing is just the next technology du jour. They see it as the next marketing push; first there was mobile, followed by SOA, and now it's cloud computing. They believe that it's really nothing new, important, or different..."

"One of the promises of cloud computing is that it allows you to leverage resources more efficiently. And the federal government is notorious in the inefficient use of technology, because each of the agencies and departments have built their own separate and independent approaches with respect to IT..."

I was honored to follow Mr. Chris Kemp, NASA CTO, in this series.  

During his interview with Robert, they discussed:

  • Mandate to consider cloud computing for every major government IT project
  • "Be a Martian" - NASA using Windows Azure to let students classify craters
  • Opportunity for government to use more open source rather than write as much in-house
  • Security concerns around government data
  • Inter-country collaboration on cloud computing initiatives
  • Gartner blog post titled, "Do Government Clouds Make Any Sense?"
  • Collaboration with Microsoft Research on public/private cloud hybrid
  • NASA is leading the charge towards cloud computing and modern IT for government

"Given the language around our 2011 budget requests, where we have to actually look at cloud computing in every one of our major IT projects and justify any cases where we're not using cloud. It would surprise me if that message only got through to a subset of federal agencies. I respect John, but it seems to me that there are probably a lot of people working on their stuff down in the trenches just to be consistent with the OMB mandate, if for no other reason..."

"I think that you need to start with the data, and you need to adjust the controls you put around security based on the sensitivity of the data. I think the greatest exposure exists where we have personally identifiable information or information that can compromise the security of people's personal information on federal systems. These are the areas where we need to demand a higher standard of security from cloud environments. We need to think about encrypting the data that is in the cloud..."

I urge you to take the time to read both of these thoughtful interviews.

Cross-posted from Cloud Musings

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