The US Department Of Energy Is Finally Embracing Cloud Technology

The US Department of Energy is Finally Embracing Cloud Technology

A new DOE paper explains how national labs can migrate to the cloud without compromising security.

I’m sure it won’t come as a shock to anyone in the tech industry (or outside it for that matter) that the US government can be slow to adopt new ideas, but the DOE recently released a paper pushing all of its national labs to embrace cloud technology whenever possible.

The white paper, titled Department of Energy National Laboratories and Plants: Leadership in Cloud Computing, actually puts national labs like Fermi Lab and Lawrence Livermore in the position of having to justify not using cloud computing instead of the other way around.

This is partially just getting DOE agencies in line with the federally mandated 25 Point Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management, which originally created the ‘cloud first’ policy. Taking a cue from private enterprise, the government realizes that they would be missing out on huge savings if they continued to do all of their IT work in-house. The report specifically says, “A public cloud provider may be the best way to quickly get services to the business without adding trained staff and infrastructure.”

But what might be a simple migration for some government agencies is quite a bit trickier for the DOE because of their highly sensitive responsibilities.

To give you just one example, the DOE is partially responsible for maintaining US nuclear missile silos. Security is more important for them than practically anyone else on the planet.

The DOE cites IT advisory firm Gartner’s list of seven key security issues that need to be taken into account before moving to the cloud:

1.privileged user access
2.regulatory compliance
3.data location
4.data segregation
5.recovery
6.investigative support
7.long-term viability

It’s a pretty thorough list, and asking each national lab and their already busy personnel to tackle security reviews from scratch would result in a lot of duplicated effort, and probably quite a few security oversights as well.

That’s why the DOE is creating E-RAMP, a common framework for evaluating security issues surrounding cloud computing that all DOE agencies can use. Even though national labs have different goals and responsibilities, they will all use E-RAMP guidelines with the assurance that they are staying in line with DOE and federal regulations and using cloud computing responsibly.

I think this is really exciting for three reasons.

First, it’s a huge boost to cloud advocates like myself who are trying to convince businesspeople that cloud computing is safe. If even national labs working with state secrets are starting to use it, surely corporations should feel confident to migrate to the cloud as well.

Second, one of the main reasons that government is slow to adapt is because bureaucrats can be more concerned with playing it safe than getting the best possible results. E-RAMP tells those bureaucrats that they had better get moving to the cloud, but it also lets them know that as long as they follow E-RAMP they aren’t putting their jobs on the line. That’s a powerful combination for getting things done.

Finally, national labs employ thousands of people working on some of the most difficult computational problems in the world. When these groups move, en masse, to cloud computing they are going to create new challenges for the cloud sector to meet.

My regular readers know that I’m mostly interested in how cloud technology impacts the business world, and that’s just as true with this paper. I’m glad that the DOE, and the rest of the federal government, is coming around to the amazing potential of cloud computing, but I’m even more excited about the business opportunities that are just around the corner.

While the white paper itself might not be the most entertaining read, this new policy is going to spur growth and innovation in our industry for years to come and it’s something we should all be happy about.

Further Reading

Department of Energy National Laboratories and Plants: Leadership in Cloud Computing

By Jan Brass

About Jan Brass

Jan is a tech industry veteran and self-described geek. An avid blogger, Jan covers cloud technology news and publishes opinion pieces on cloud computing on her blog, http://janbrass.org.

About CloudTweaks

Established in 2009, CloudTweaks is recognized as one of the leading authorities in connected technology information and services.

We embrace and instill thought leadership insights, relevant and timely news related stories, unbiased benchmark reporting as well as offer green/cleantech learning and consultive services around the world.

Our vision is to create awareness and to help find innovative ways to connect our planet in a positive eco-friendly manner.

In the meantime, you may connect with CloudTweaks by following and sharing our resources.

View All Articles

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

The Security Gap: What Is Your Core Strength?

The Security Gap: What Is Your Core Strength?

The Security Gap You’re out of your mind if you think blocking access to file sharing services is filling a security gap. You’re out of your mind if you think making people jump through hoops like Citrix and VPNs to get at content is secure. You’re out of your mind if you think putting your…

Choosing IaaS or a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider?

Choosing IaaS or a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider?

There is a Difference – So Stop Comparing We are all familiar with the old saying “That’s like comparing apples to oranges” and though we learned this lesson during our early years we somehow seem to discount this idiom when discussing the Cloud. Specifically, IT buyers often feel justified when comparing the cost of a…

How The CFAA Ruling Affects Individuals And Password-Sharing

How The CFAA Ruling Affects Individuals And Password-Sharing

Individuals and Password-Sharing With the 1980s came the explosion of computing. In 1980, the Commodore ushered in the advent of home computing. Time magazine declared 1982 was “The Year of the Computer.” By 1983, there were an estimated 10 million personal computers in the United States alone. As soon as computers became popular, the federal government…

Having Your Cybersecurity And Eating It Too

Having Your Cybersecurity And Eating It Too

The Catch 22 The very same year Marc Andreessen famously said that software was eating the world, the Chief Information Officer of the United States was announcing a major Cloud First goal. That was 2011. Five years later, as both the private and public sectors continue to adopt cloud-based software services, we’re interested in this…

The Future Of Cloud Storage And Sharing…

The Future Of Cloud Storage And Sharing…

Box.net, Amazon Cloud Drive The online (or cloud) storage business has always been a really interesting industry. When we started Box in 2005, it was a somewhat untouchable category of technology, perceived to be a commodity service with low margins and little consumer willingness to pay. All three of these factors remain today, but with…

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

Cancer Moonshot In his final State of the Union address in January 2016, President Obama announced a new American “moonshot” effort: finding a cure for cancer. The term “moonshot” comes from one of America’s greatest achievements, the moon landing. If the scientific community can achieve that kind of feat, then surely it can rally around…

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

The True Meaning of Availability What is real availability? In our line of work, cloud service providers approach availability from the inside out. And in many cases, some never make it past their own front door given how challenging it is to keep the lights on at home let alone factors that are out of…

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Security In The IoT The network security market is experiencing a pressing and transformative change, especially around access control and orchestration. Although it has been mature for decades, the network security market had to transform rapidly with the advent of the BYOD trend and emergence of the cloud, which swept enterprises a few years ago.…