Of garden hoses, tennis bracelets and FedRAMP

Shutterstock image (by wk1003mike): cloud system fracture.

(Image: wk1003mike / Shutterstock)

With some federal agencies still lagging in their pursuit of the cloud, experienced users and gatekeepers say it’s important to remember that not every application is a candidate for migration.

"Not every application is meant for the cloud," Matthew Goodrich, director of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program at GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, said in remarks at an FCW IT Executive Insights presentation June 10 in Washington.

Goodrich said the FedRAMP initiative to standardize approaches to security assessment, authorization and continuous monitoring for cloud products now has 35 cloud service providers with a stamp of approval.

Sometimes, not moving to the cloud is simply a matter of inertia.

"It' a new mandate," he said, and some agencies drag their feet to see if initiatives survive past the administration that put them in place.

But for others, the decision comes down to deciphering which applications in their agencies are best suited for the cloud.

It's similar to thinking about home security, Goodrich said.

"Do you think about someone stealing that garden hose out in your front yard? Probably not," he said. The diamond tennis bracelet in the indoor safe, however, is another story.

Similar prioritization has to happen with migrating to cloud applications. Those applications that have data that make IT managers "paranoid" about its loss may not be the best candidates to transfer, according to Goodrich. "Simple or lower sensitivity applications are perfect for the cloud, while applications that contain more sensitive data may not be," he said.

Making the shift can also involve some professional finesse, according to Roopangi Kadakia, web services executive at NASA.

Kadakia said she has put more than 160 applications onto the agency's cloud in the last two years, no small task given her rocket scientist audience. "Everyone wants to think they're special," she said of the myriad applications developed by the agency's experts.

But some of them are redundant and can be handled with software-as-a-service or other cloud-based service platforms, she said. Getting upfront buy-in on the use of cloud services from important stakeholders like the agency inspector general and chief financial officer help soften up hardliners on the benefits of cloud services, according to Kadakia.

Even potential users skittish about the security of a cloud service provider can take some inspiration from the fact that none of the 35 FedRAMP-approved providers has had a security breach in their services, according to Goodrich. "That's huge," he said.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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