NARA looks to multi-cloud

cloud migration (deepadesigns/ 

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is in the process of moving to a multi-cloud acquisition strategy to store the increasing deluge of digital records it receives from other federal agencies.

"We're moving from off-premises storage solutions and into the cloud," said Sheena Burrell, deputy CIO at NARA. The move, she said during a Sept. 24 AFCEA Bethesda webcast, will facilitate acceptance of records from other federal agencies that have moved to the cloud, but may not be using the same cloud vendor as NARA.

The move is in line with the record-keeping agency's sharpening of its overall digital modernization plans for the last few years. It plans to stop taking in federal agencies' paper records by the end of 2022.

This summer it released its Digital Preservation Framework that incorporates comments from agencies, experts and stakeholders in the records management field, identifies 16 electronic record category types and offers a set of best practices for managing risk to prevent the loss or diminution of government's digital work.

IT modernization by other agencies, including their migration to the cloud, said Burrell, makes the new multi-cloud strategy imperative. The increase in the volume of digital records coming from those digital systems and cloud applications will only get steeper in the coming years, she said.

NARA, said Burrell, is currently in the acquisition planning process to for a multi-cloud storage contract. The agency is consulting with NASA, which currently has a multi-cloud strategy, for tips on how to proceed, according to Burrell.

"We're looking into multi-cloud contracts, so that we're able to take records from other federal agencies the way that they store them in their cloud systems and not have to transfer them to our cloud system," she said.

NARA uses a couple of cloud providers now, according to Burrell. The agency's current cloud storage provider for its electronic records archiving system is Amazon Web Services (AWS), she said, while the agency stores its own employee records in Google's cloud.

"It's vital for NARA, for the federal IT infrastructure, to modernize and accommodate that increase. As agencies adopt Cloud Smart initiatives, it's also imperative that we're able to accommodate whatever cloud strategy that they have when they're storing their records," she said. The connection between NARA's cloud and other agencies' clouds will make the records more accessible without delays

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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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