Application modernization is a top federal priority

Grazed from Tech Page One. Author: Ann Braley Smith.

Over the past five years, legacy modernization has been a hot topic in federal government IT discussions. Modernization makes application environments more efficient and responsive, and puts them in a stronger position to address new requirements and technology. And federal agencies are especially poised to reap benefits and cost savings, which is why it was included in the 2010 25-point plan for IT reform (PDF).

Truth in numbers

The need for agencies to transform old, cumbersome systems, eliminate data silos, reduce redundancy and usher in new technology is an urgent one. The numbers are compelling. In June 2013, MeriTalk and VMware surveyed 152 federal IT leaders to determine what steps agencies are taking in that direction and what kind of benefits they have seen. Agencies are spending 79 percent of their IT budget, or an average of $62 billion annually, just to maintain legacy IT systems...

U.S. intelligence agencies embrace OpenStack

Grazed from ITWorld. Author: Nancy Gohring.

The U.S. National Security Agency has been “transformed” since implementing OpenStack, and now the agency plans to open its experiences to all 16 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community. “Over the next few months we’ll work with the larger intelligence community to roll out systems across the community,” said Nathanael Burton, a computer scientist with NSA, during a keynote at the OpenStack Summit in Portland, Oregon. “Hopefully we’ll be giving access to our OpenStack system to the rest of the [intelligence community] so they can leverage the same efficiencies.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if other agencies have committed to building their own OpenStack clouds or if they plan to use the NSA’s. But government organizations are notoriously difficult to crack so the NSA’s successful implementation could open the door to broad usage of the cloud technology in the U.S. federal government. It’s also good news for OpenStack users. Since the NSA has very strong security requirements, it developed a number of systems for securing APIs and guest OSes and putting SSL “everywhere,” Burton said. “I hope in the future to take what we learned from securing OpenStack and release that back to the community,” he said...

DHS shifting to cloud, agile development to boost homeland security

Grazed from ComputerWorld. Author: Patrick Thibodeau.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has moved to agile development and is shifting to cloud platforms in an effort to improve its IT operations. At a hearing before the House Committee on Homeland Security on Tuesday, a DHS IT official gave lawmakers an overview of agile development methodologies, one of the tools that the department is using to fix its IT project management.

Agile came up after U.S. Rep Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), a former staffer in Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's office who won that seat after Giffords resigned, asked what DHS was doing to ensure that its IT systems met user needs. Margaret Graves, DHS deputy CIO, said the department is using agile methodologies to create user stories to help shape the systems. In agile development, user stories can be short and informal descriptions of some of the functions users would like to see...

Accenture Moving NSF Accounting To Cloud Computing

Grazed from GovConWire. Author: Ross Wilkers.

Accenture Federal Services has won a five-year, $24.4 million contract to transition the U.S. National Science Foundation’s financial accounting system to a cloud computing environment. The company plans to host the agency’s 25-year old system in a shared service environment and use commercial-off-the-shelf software for the project, Accenture said Thursday.

NSF managed and dispersed $5.72 billion in funding for research and related activities last year for fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences.
Formed in 1950, NSF contributes funding for nearly 20 percent of federally-supported research at colleges and universities...

U.S. Labor Department inks $50 million cloud email deal with Microsoft

Grazed from NextGov. Author: Editorial Staff

The Labor Department will pay a vendor up to $50 million to move its employees and contractors to a cloud-based Microsoft email system, according to an award notice. The contract also appears to include systems for Web-based e-discovery, records management and software-as-a-service tools, according to recent solicitation documents.

The Department first sought a vendor for cloud email services in August. The plan at that point was to combine legacy systems from the department’s nine major divisions into a unified email system with three separate domains, one for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, another for the Office of Inspector General and a third for the remainder of the agency, according to the request for proposal...

Amazon's Share Of Government Cloud Computing 'Accelerating'

Grazed from InformationWeek. Author: J. Nicholas Hoover.

As government agencies continue to adopt cloud computing, Amazon is among those reaping the rewards: the company announced Wednesday that more than 300 government agencies and 1,500 educational institutions now use Amazon Web Services. According to Amazon, the 1,800-plus customers represent its "rapid growth in the public sector."

"Government agencies and education institutions are rapidly accelerating their adoption of the AWS Cloud," Teresa Carlson, VP of Amazon Web Services' public sector business, said in a statement. Amazon's growth isn't surprising. State and local governments have been moving quickly to cloud services as a way to save money. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel and his predecessor Vivek Kundra have been championing the adoption of cloud computing at the federal level to cut costs and improve government IT services with a Cloud First mandate, which requires federal agencies to consider cloud computing as part of most new information technology acquisitions...

CIA venture arm targets a secure cloud platform

Grazed from Government Computer News. Author: Editorial Staff.

In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture fund company, has made its second investment in cloud computing in as many months, having recently entered into an agreement with Huddle to develop a secure version of its content collaboration platform for U.S. intelligence agencies, Information Week reports.

Last month, In-Q-Tel signed an agreement with Adaptive Computing to develop a cloud operating system. The agency company is also working with cloud storage specialist Cleversafe. Huddle, which promotes itself as an alternative to Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration technology, is developing a version of its cloud-based platform that complies with the Federal Information Security Management Act. The Homeland Security Department and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency are preparing to implement the technology, according to the tech publication...

Government Cloud: Layered Technologies Buys New World Apps

Grazed from TalkinCloud. Author: Chris Talbot.

A new acquisition puts compliant and secure cloud and hosting services provider Layered Technologies directly into the federal, state and local government market. The company announced it has acquired New World Apps, a secure private cloud and community cloud computing provider focused on the government markets.

With experience and expertise in serving the U.S. intelligence community, law enforcement, the Department of Defense and most civilian federal agencies, New World Apps brings a new level of secure cloud and a new market to Layered Technologies...

GSA considering a broker approach for the cloud

Grazed from FederalNewsRadio. Author: Esther Carey.

The General Services Administration is seeking input from industry about the potential of developing cloud-computing brokers which could mediate between cloud providers and consumers. The agency released a request for information Tuesday to assist other agencies in moving toward the cloud.

The end goal is to "develop new and innovative ways for the government to procure cloud services in less time with higher value delivered, and allow government to take advantage of the inherent benefits of cloud computing," GSA said. The RFI identified several possible benefits of cloud computing, including pay-as-you-go pricing and the ability to easily take advantage of innovation...

The real obstacle to federal cloud computing

Grazed from FierceGovernmentIT. Author: David Perera.

The State Department, it turns out, has a cloud that's not really a cloud.

When auditors from the office of inspector general took a look at the thing the department calls a cloud computing service, they decided it can't be so, since it violates just about all of the five essential characteristics of a cloud, as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Those five characteristics are on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and measured service...