The Cloud First Mandate for Government Demands an Open Architecture for Cloud

From my post, Virtual Integrated System Blog – Government – The Cloud First Mandate for Government Demands an Open Architecture for Cloud, on the Virtual Integrated System Blog at Ziff Davis Enterprise:

The federal government is moving toward a “cloud first” policy for new applications. Jeffery Zients, the government’s first-ever Chief Performance Officer, announced in mid-November that the Office of Management and Budget will require that all agencies will be required to use cloud-based options for new system acquisitions “whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists.”

The Washington Post reported Zients’ announcement of the changes, first outlined at a Northern Virginia Technology Council meeting on November 19. According to the article, “The government’s been trying to do this for a long time,” he said, “but obstacles have always gotten in the way.” Now, he said, “we finally clear out those obstacles and allow agencies to successfully apply the agile, modular development approach.”

That policy will certainly boost the acceptance rate of cloud-based services within the federal government. But it will take more than simply requiring cloud-based solutions for new systems to meet the government’s goal of a 40 percent reduction in the number of Federal data centers by 2015. Existing systems will also need to be migrated to the cloud, and migrated toward an architecture that takes advantage of self-service IT and a shared cloud infrastructure. And there will also need to be substantial improvements in standards for data integration between applications residing in the cloud in different types of infrastructure–whether the clouds are outsourced or operated in federal data centers.

To make the move from the current mix of virtualized and non-virtualized systems to more of a cloud model for computing, and have the same sort of agility in infrastructure as they gain in cloud-based software solutions, agencies are going to need an open architecture that allows them to move their systems from whatever hypervisor or physical server operating system they currently reside on into a cloud-based virtual environment without having to worry about what hypervisor environment is being used to manage the cloud. They’ll need to be able to extract those virtual servers and redeploy them as well, to ensure that the cost of exit from a vendor’s cloud contract, for example, isn’t higher than the cost of the contract itself. And for agencies that decide to run their own private cloud, those capabilities will be even more important to ensure that they don’t get locked into specific hardware architectures going forward, and can more easily inject new technology into existing environments.