DHS CIO describes 'aggressive stance' on cloud migrations

The Homeland Security Department is taking “an aggressive stance” regarding the use of private and public cloud computing services, Richard Spires, chief information officer, said on Oct. 6.

DHS is implementing nine private clouds and three public clouds, Spires told the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technology.

The department anticipates additional public cloud offerings to be developed in the next two years, as the FedRamp initiative is deployed to allow for joint authorizations of cloud providers.

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"Given DHS's mission, we believe a robust private cloud solution will always be needed for DHS's most sensitive applications and data,” Spires said. “Further leverage of public cloud services will enable the government to ensure there is robust competition for such services, driving down costs and improving overall service levels.”

Spires listed E-mail as a Service as one of the nine private clouds that are either deployed or in the process of being implemented. By the end of fiscal 2012, the department expects to have 100,000 DHS users for cloud email, he said.

Similarly, SharePoint as a Service is currently being adopted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and other agencies, with nearly 90,000 DHS users anticipated by the end of fiscal 2012, Spires added.

Also deployed is Authentication as a Service, which is being used by 70 DHS applications, Spires said. The service provides authentication for 250,000 federal and contractor employees.

Within the next 30 days, DHS expects to deploy Project Server as a Service offering a robust project management platform to publish project schedules that can more easily be shared across offices, divisions, and components.

DHS also is close to deploying Development and Test as a Service, which will establish on-demand testing and application management tools. “Moving and hosting development and test services to our enterprise data centers provides not only a simple path to transition from project creation to implementation, but also accelerated delivery,” Spires said.

He said new servers would be provisioned in a single day with the new capability, whereas the former model took up to six months. Initial capability is expected in 60 days.

By the end of calendar 2011, the department expects to be operating Infrastructure as a Service to provide virtualized production services, including operating systems, network, and storage. This will enable setup of new services in the cloud in less than a week vs. 12 months to 18 months in legacy systems, Spires said.

Other cloud projects include:

  • WorkPlace as a Service Development is underway to enable a robust virtual desktop, remote access, and other mobile services over the next 24 months.
  • Case and Relationship Management as a Service Over the next six months, DHS will roll out a litigation case management capability with a redress service, customer relationship capabilities and regulations tracking.
  • Business Intelligence as a Service: A pilot project is underway for a capability to enhance transparency into departmental programming and expenditure across the investment lifecycle, including IT, financial, human resources, asset management, and other information sources.
  • Identity Proofing as a Service A public cloud offering with the Social Security Administration was launched in March 2011 to allow individuals to self-check their employment eligibility status in the E-Verify system.
  • Enterprise Content Delivery as a Service Public cloud protection against denial of service attacks currently is being used by 70 percent of DHS websites.
  • Web Content Management as a Service DHS awarded a public cloud hosting contract to consolidate public-facing DHS websites within two years. In the next six months, DHS will conduct pilot testing of multiple websites in the cloud.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Fri, Oct 7, 2011

To be clear, DHS CEO Spires made also clear that DHS is only using public clouds for applications that have no sensitive data, specifically because the necessary standards to provide visibility into the cloud operators security situation and standards for data migration between cloud providers are not yet ready.

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