Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security selected a vendor for its DHS-Wide Public Cloud Web Content Management Services contract, paving the way for one of the most expansive and potentially important cloud security case studies to date.
The DHS is now the first recipient of funding from the General Services Administration's $76 million Infrastructure-as-a-Service initiative. The cloud provider secured a three-year, $1.8 million deal with DHS to move the agency's public websites onto the new platform.
"DHS's move to the cloud is being watched closely as it's one of the largest agencies to put the 'cloud-first' policy into practice," said vendor spokesman Eric Wolking. "[The] cloud environment contains all of the required enterprise-wide security, service delivery and hosting capabilities needed to reduce costs while delivering improved citizen services."
Throughout the project, the cloud migration project will focus on full-cycle service and support from testing and staging migrations to training end-users and providing troubleshooting advice. Once completed, the initiative will transition its citizen-facing website in addition to those of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and several others.
With their latest move, DHS officials may be taking a bold but necessary step ahead of their public sector colleagues. Several government agencies have been reluctant to make the transition to the cloud due to a variety of data security concerns. According to TechTarget, approximately 80 percent of government cloud migrations will take the form of a private cloud strategy.
"When you say private, a lot of time a private cloud could be sitting in a public facility, but it's on a dedicated system run by a government-approved contractor with very specific service-level agreements," IDC research director Shawn McCarthy told the news outlet.
With more agencies warming up to the idea of the cloud, the vision of former federal CIO Vivek Kundra may soon come to fruition. In his original plan for federal IT reform, Kundra cited the pay-as-you-go approach as a crucial component of cloud computing as it would allow agencies to commence much-needed transformation with relatively small initial investments. The speed and flexibility of the technology were also viewed as key enablers of efficiency in a sector troubled by sluggish processing.
But for the DHS and others to leverage these advantages, strong security fundamentals will be needed. Contractors that can showcase their cloud security expertise may be primed for success as a wave of public sector migrations may be in the pipeline.
Cloud Computing News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro