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New Cloud Computing Offerings for Government: Yes, They Are Game-Changers

  Are recent announcements of product offerings from Google, Microsoft and others going to fundamentally change government technology service delivery?  Has the long ...

by / August 15, 2010

  Are recent announcements of product offerings from Google, Microsoft and others going to fundamentally change government technology service delivery?  Has the long foretold government paradigm shift now begun? Will we look back at 2010 as the pivotal year? Or, is this just another over-hyped tech story?

Lately, I am thinking that the answer may well be yes - we are witnessing a fundamental shift in technology service delivery for government. However, I think the full transformation could take up to a decade (or more) to complete.

In my opinion, the tech giants are starting in the email and office suite space and will succeed in making these commodity purchases for governments over the next few years. Meanwhile, more complex applications and mission-critical data will be moving into "government clouds" which are private and more secure. Bottom line, we have started down this new "yellow brick road" but certainly have a ways to go to arrive at the "Emerald City."    

   There are many people saying that recent announcements are game-changers. Here's a quick rundown on several interesting articles and related research on this cloud topic:

InfoWorld:  Google removes cloud security barrier for government

ZDNet: The federal cloud: Another Microsoft vs. Google battleground

eWeek:  Cloud Computing: Google Apps Leads Microsoft in Federal Cloud Race: 10 Reasons Why It Matters

Government Technology Magazine recently did this story on the Google certifications for government .   I have also written several blogs and other articles on Cloud Computing security issues and offered recommendations to government technology executives  on the cloud. A few months back, released the Federal CIO Council's report on the " State of Public Sector Cloud Computing ."

Last week, the Digital Daily pointed to recent implementation challenges in LA, in this article Cloud Computing: Good Enough for Government? Microsoft told us back in February that FISMA-compliant cloud offerings are coming this year. I expect to see those offerings over the next few months, which will mean that they will match Google's FISMA-compliant offerings - with a similar price. These offerings also ensure that data is stored in the USA to help us with potential legal issues.

(One side note of caution: true FISMA compliance requires much more that just secure hosting by Google or Microsoft or others. It requires end-to-end security which includes our databases, PCs as well as office environment policies, procedures and even training. I worry a bit that these "compliant answers" are somewhat over-hyped in that government officials who may not know any better will think that they "done" with security if they just use one of these FISMA compliant services.)    

For more technical details on this topic, you can also read this PC Magazine blog entitled: The Changing Cloud Platforms: Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and More

  Meanwhile IBM and smaller companies like Secure-24 are focusing on private cloud offerings. The International Business Times highlighted IBM's offerings , but almost every tech company I speak with now has one or more cloud offerings.  

So what can readers do to learn more? I like these six questions that Accenture recommends IT Executives ask regarding cloud computing. (Click on the recommendations and conclusions boxes when you get to this website.)

My view is that as we see even greater pressure to cut costs in 2011 and beyond, all of us will incorporate elements of these new cloud computing services into our offerings, if you don't already have them implemented. There's is no doubt that government technology execs will also need to improve their contract monitoring and vendor management skills in this new online world.

What are your thoughts on these new, improved "cloud offerings" in government?



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Dan Lohrmann Chief Security Officer & Chief Strategist at Security Mentor Inc.

Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker and author.

During his distinguished career, he has served global organizations in the public and private sectors in a variety of executive leadership capacities, receiving numerous national awards including: CSO of the Year, Public Official of the Year and Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader.
Lohrmann led Michigan government’s cybersecurity and technology infrastructure teams from May 2002 to August 2014, including enterprisewide Chief Security Officer (CSO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) roles in Michigan.

He currently serves as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Chief Strategist for Security Mentor Inc. He is leading the development and implementation of Security Mentor’s industry-leading cyber training, consulting and workshops for end users, managers and executives in the public and private sectors. He has advised senior leaders at the White House, National Governors Association (NGA), National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), federal, state and local government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and nonprofit institutions.

He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry, beginning his career with the National Security Agency. He worked for three years in England as a senior network engineer for Lockheed Martin (formerly Loral Aerospace) and for four years as a technical director for ManTech International in a US/UK military facility.

Lohrmann is the author of two books: Virtual Integrity: Faithfully Navigating the Brave New Web and BYOD for You: The Guide to Bring Your Own Device to Work. He has been a keynote speaker at global security and technology conferences from South Africa to Dubai and from Washington, D.C., to Moscow.

He holds a master's degree in computer science (CS) from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and a bachelor's degree in CS from Valparaiso University in Indiana.

Follow Lohrmann on Twitter at: @govcso

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