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A FedRAMP OK for Huddle, a server relocation dispute and national lab leadership changes

Shutterstock image (by Maksim Kabakou): cloud computing concept, security.

Huddle gets FedRAMP approval for content collaboration platform

The cloud-based collaboration platform Huddle received Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program approval on March 26, in the form of a U.S. Agency for International Development authority to operate.

GCN reported that Huddle is the first content collaboration service to receive a FedRAMP ATO, and quoted Vanessa Thompson, research director for enterprise social networks and collaborative technologies at IDC, predicting that "rapid adoption of 'consumer' apps for personal productivity will continue."

Huddle co-founder, President and Chief Marketing Officer Alastair Mitchell told FCW that the FedRAMP approval was 18 months in the works, and that the service is deployed to 13,000 USAID users, with plans to scale to "two or three times that."

Huddle also has engagements with the departments of Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security "and a bunch of others," Mitchell said. Those projects, combined with the fact that several other similar services are "stacked up behind us" in the FedRAMP approval process, "shows how much this sort of enterprise software is in demand in the government space."

FCC's planned server move sparks interest from House Republicans

The Federal Communications Commission plans to move 200 servers from its Washington, D.C., headquarters to an offsite location in West Virginia, as part of a long-planned IT upgrade that includes the eventual migration from legacy computing infrastructure to a managed IT service provider. This might seem like a routine move, but amid the current controversy over the FCC's recently approved open Internet rules, nothing that passes between Congress and the FCC is routine.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has testified in front of Congress five times since the Open Internet rules were approved, and Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are pushing for both process-reform bills to govern the FCC and possibly new authorizing legislation to re-scope the agency's charter. As part of the fiscal 2016 appropriations process, Wheeler is seeking $5.8 million to fund new IT infrastructure, and $9.6 million to "rewrite the FCC's legacy applications as part of a modular 'shift' to a modern, resilient, cloud-based platform," according to his testimony before the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the agency.

But in the current climate, even moving a batch of servers offsite can't be done without a political tussle.

Three senior Republicans on the Energy and Commerce have written a letter to Wheeler asking for details on the pending move. Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.); Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who chairs the Communications and Technology Subcommittee; and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), who chairs the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, want assurances that the data and documents contained on the servers will not be lost in the move, and that the data will be backed up prior to relocation.

The letter also seeks details on the age, capacity and usage history of the servers, as well as details on the qualifications of the contractors who were tapped to carry out the move. The three members also want details on the cost savings the FCC has pledged will result from moving the servers offsite, as well as projected improvements to cybersecurity and resiliency.

National lab leadership in flux

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's director said he plans to step down from his position after six years, while Lawrence Livermore National Lab said it will get a new senior tech official from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos said he intended to leave his position once a successor could be recruited to lead the facility. Alivisatos said he would return to his research and teaching activities as a senior scientist in the Materials Sciences Division and as a faculty member on the Berkeley campus of the University of California.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said Patricia Falcone, associate director for national security and international affairs at OSTP was selected as the lab's deputy director for science and technology.

She starts her new job April 7.

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