Big Blue Gets Huge Federal Cloud Endorsement

By Doug Barney

If you think it’s hard to sell to businesses, just try making it through the federal bureaucracy and get to an actual signed contract. On the cloud front, the U.S. federal government, while pushing for its use, has put up myriad barriers. That’s because having confidential government information floating around in the cloud and not 100 percent under federal control is a frightening prospect. Vendors that want to sell cloud services therefore have to prove themselves safe and worthy.

 IBM (News - Alert) is one such worthy vendor as its SmartCloud for Government is now approved by a U.S.  Government IT board as meeting network standards. This means federal agencies can more easily avail themselves of this infrastructure as-a-service cloud platform.

 Of course the government never states things so simply. Instead, “IBM received the Provisional Authorization to Operate (P-ATO) from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and its Joint Authorization Board.” Yikes. This IT board has representatives from some of the most demanding areas of government, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. General Services Administration.

This doesn’t mean that the IBM tool has never been sold to federal groups. Instead, this approval makes it easier for agencies to buy. In fact, the government version of SmartCloud has been around for about 3 years.

 “FedRAMP certification by the JAB provides an overarching validation of the robust security IBM's cloud offerings provide,” said Anne Altman, general manager of IBM U.S. Federal. “IBM's efforts to make the cloud secure extend beyond the current requirements. Our research teams are exploring the next generation of cloud security and are committed to bringing further innovation to the government in this area.”

 IBM isn’t alone in having this authorization as Akamai, Amazon, AT&T, Autonomic Resources, HP Enterprise Cloud Services and Microsoft are already approved.

 Federal Networks Need to Catch up with New Technology

 The U.S. federal government wants to be as leading edge as anyone, and has plans to adopt what some call the big five of technology – big data, the cloud, data center consolidation, mobility and security. But there is one big problem – federal networks are not up these tasks. This is according to MeriTalk, which is a partnership between private and public organizations aimed at promoting good IT and a sense of community.

 The result of deficient networks? Bottlenecks. Potentially huge bottlenecks. This isn’t just an issue for the feds. Anyone moving substantial chunks of computing to the cloud has to look the network, and look at it on and end-to-end basis. First is the internal corporate network, then the egress/ingress points, the speed of the service provider’s network (for big cloud apps dedicated connections are usually a must) and finally the speed of the service providers’ internal network.

MeriTalk’s report, “The Net of Federal Networks: Will You Survive the Big Five?” dives into these issues.

 Just like putting the cart before the horse, federal agencies may be putting the apps before the network. Fortunately federal IT managers at least understand the issue. “On average, network managers expect agency’s total network load to increase by 79 percent as a result of the Big Five. However, Federal network managers do not believe today’s networks are ready – 59 percent say that if the Big Five were fully deployed today they would be at or over their network’s capacity limits. In addition, four out of five – 84 percent – of network managers say if deployed today, the Big Five would put them at risk for a network bottleneck,” the report found.

It is not just the network, but the rest of the infrastructure that also needs tending to, apparently.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

MSPToday Editor at Large

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