Energy not ready for public cloud

The Energy Department isn’t ready to migrate to a public cloud, mainly due to policy challenges and security concerns, according to a senior official.

Robert Brese, deputy CIO at Energy, spoke at Federal Computer Week’s Federal Executive Briefing, a half-day event held March 15, focused on discussions around the transformation of federal IT environments. He said Energy has partnered with the National Nuclear Security Administration to begin the process of moving some of Energy’s information and systems to a cloud environment.

However, because a large portion of Energy’s information is unclassified but sensitive, “we’re not ready to put that out there in the public cloud,” Brese said, adding that he anticipates the use of a hybrid cloud.

Cyber attacks on government IT systems have increased exponentially in recent years, an alarming trend Brese said should serve as warning as the department advances further toward a cloud environment.

“That’s preventing us from moving as quickly as we would like to, but we’re getting there,” he said. “There are some challenges in the policy world where we the government need to make sure to tighten up that relationship so we can help move all of us into a secure future.”

Energy has been working with the Commerce and State departments on how to protect export control information and arms control information. Although that information is unclassified, it’s subject to various regulations including criminal penalties if let loose. 

“That also restricts our ability to move to the cloud a little bit because I don’t want to move just my productivity solutions to the cloud; I want to move all of it to the cloud or I’m going to end up running two systems,” Brese said.

The department’s most recent stride toward the cloud includes the forthcoming email migration of its lead nuclear research and development facility in Idaho, a move Brese called “a huge win.”

“But this set of negotiations around a relatively narrow policy segment took us almost seven months,” he added.

 

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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