On Feb. 16, I spent the day at the SIIA Cloud/Gov conference in Washington, D.C. The event had a strong turnout (150-200 attendees), with some good buzz in the halls.

I was fascinated by the range of Cloud deployment that is occurring across the government, with the panels and keynotes painting a picture of accelerating adoption up and down the Cloud Ecosystem stack. This included a wide range of SaaS deployments, public and private cloud infrastructure (moving existing workloads, as well as deploying new workloads), growing use of PaaS (such as by the DOD) … as well as a variety of business process management capabilities.

As the keynote David McClure (from GSA) emphasized, the Federal government is facing a perfect storm of tight budgets, new technology and a new generation of CIOs that are poised to take advantage of the Cloud. This clearly mirrors what is happening in the private sector (see Lens 360 blog post, “CIO Insight: Importance of Cloud in IT Strategies/Plans Growing”). McClure emphasized that some of the key challenges associated with the Cloud still need to be resolved (security/privacy, and release of data), but likewise shared that the recently released GSA framework for contracting in the Cloud via FedRAMP is steadily evolving, including the recent addition of 45 controls to FISMA Moderate. This will clearly help further accelerate adoption across the Federal government, and overcome some of the procurement challenges that have existed in support of the Cloud-First policy published in early 2011.

I especially enjoyed the Federal case study panel moderated by Greg Gianforte, CEO of RightNow (with panelists representing the Department of Agriculture, Forge/DISA, and the Department of Education). Wes Lloyd of the Department of Agriculture explained how his agency has transformed a legacy modeling/simulation application via the use of a private cloud – with dramatic improvements in response time.

In a State and Local government panel that I moderated, Garrison Gladfelter, from the PA Department of Health shared how its’ core (legacy) Drug and Alcohol tracking application provided by Kit Solutions has been transformed by Cloud-enabling it, and ultimately turning what was once a proprietary on-prem solution into a shared service that other states can leverage. Our other panelist, Mike Goodrich, from the Arlington Economic Development agency, shared his successful use of the Salesforce CRM offering, across a range of business development and visitor management needs. Goodrich emphasized how the Salesforce engine has become the core master database for the agency, with high productivity and significant cost savings.

Other contributors to the conference included Dawn Leaf from NIST, who was recognized by CloudNow as one of the Top Women in Cloud Computing in America. I especially enjoyed Jason Bloomberg’s presentation on “The Enterprise Context for Cloud Computing” – where he provided some sound (and practical) advice around the need to re-architect your applications to take advantage of the Cloud’s many benefit (especially in regards to elasticity and fault tolerance), as well as the need to build a solid business case as agencies embark on their Cloud journey. I’ve enjoyed reading the Zapthink blog over the years, and didn’t realize the firm had been acquired by Dovèl Technologies.

The day closed with a fantastic Fed CIO panel, with panelists representing NASA, USPS, NOAA, Department of Veteran Affairs, and Homeland Security. Adrian Gardner from NASA said it best, that the “Cloud fits across the full spectrum from desktop to supercomputer.”  

This blog originally appeared at Saugatuck Lens360.

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