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Feds To Adopt 'Cloud First' IT Policy

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the what-happens-when-the-cloud-wants-to-move-to-the-cloud dept.

Businesses 142

theodp writes "The White House Thursday announced plans to restructure IT by consolidating federal government data centers and applications, and adopting a so-called 'cloud first' policy. Unveiled by federal CIO Vivek Kundra, the 25-Point Plan (PDF) calls for cutting 800+ data centers by 2015, as well as shifting work to cloud computing systems. The new 'Cloud First' policy cites the ability of Animoto.com to scale vs. the government's short-lived Cars.gov (Cash for Clunkers), although Google Trends suggests this may be somewhat of an apple-to-oranges comparison for justifying a national IT strategy. As long as we're talking clouds, a tag cloud of the 25-Point Plan underscores that the Feds are counting more on IT Program and Contract Management rather than Computer Science wizardry to deliver 'the productivity improvements that private industry has realized from IT.' Not to be a buzzkill, but those of you celebrating CS Education Week might be advised to consider an MBA if you want a Federal IT career."

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So sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34525532)

it's too bad that the cloud doesn't even exist.

Oh, you meant servers, gotcha. Buzzwords get in the way from time to time, every time.

Re:So sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34525550)

...The Cloud...

I'd like to see a Beowulf cluster of those!

Re:So sad (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526570)

But does it run Linux?

In Cloud We Trust (2)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527338)

E Cumulonimbus Unum

Re:So sad (5, Interesting)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525592)

It means third party, Internet connected, managed services.

For example, a company that offers network connected scalable processing and bandwidth services is offering "cloud" services.

Like Amazon.com, for example. Amazon.com offers this as one of their services. They used to sell this service to some-one called "Wikileaks".

Interesting fact: Amazon stopped selling those services to Wikileaks, and lied about why. Amazon claimed they were suspending the hosting because Wikileaks had published 250,000 embassy cables without vetting them first. But this was untrue [livejournal.com] . Questions have been asked as to why Amazon.com did this, and Amazon.com claimed this false smear in order to deflect the allegation that they had done so under government pressure, something they denied in the same press release.

Now the Feds are announcing a massive move over to cloud computing, a move that will result in hundreds of millions of dollars to those companies who get the contracts.

I wonder why Amazon.com dropped Wikileaks as a customer. And why they felt the need to lie about why. And why they did this just before hundreds of millions of dollars became available for services like the ones they offer, from an organization that really doesn't like Wikileaks.

Re:So sad (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34525644)

[citations needed]

Re:So sad (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525668)

It means third party, Internet connected, managed services.

I would hope that the government used their own "cloud" datacenters, either managed by GS employees or a contractor, rather than a completely commercial facility...

Re:So sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526254)

It means third party, Internet connected, managed services.

I would hope that the government used their own "cloud" datacenters, either managed by GS employees or a contractor, rather than a completely commercial facility...

No fear. I am certain Dear Leader Obama will outsource cloud infrastructure services to India via one of the major IT contract firms.

Re:So sad (2)

Rasvar (35511) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527442)

The US Government version of the cloud will have a direct line to Wikileaks to save time.

Re:So sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34525698)

Interesting fact: Amazon stopped selling those services to Wikileaks, and lied about why. Amazon claimed they were suspending the hosting because Wikileaks had published 250,000 embassy cables without vetting them first. But this was untrue.

What was untrue? I don't see any lies there. In the absolute worst case, Amazon believed a lie that someone else was telling. More likely, nobody has lied at all, and someone simply made an incorrect assumption that was spread around so much that lots of people started basing their decisions on it.

But I guess it's too much to hope for rational debate and logical arguments, when it's so much easier for you to just sling insults and wild accusations at everyone who dares do something you don't like.

Re:So sad (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525862)

What was untrue?

The statement I quoted. Which is still on their website several days later.

If it had been withdrawn at the time, you might have a case for claiming they believed someone else's lie, but it's still up there, long after everyone at Amazon have been made aware that the statement is factually false.

Re:So sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526854)

Wikileaks has not published 250,000 embassy cables. At this time they have published probably less than 1,000 and only a couple hundred at the time Amazon cut their service. Every single one of the cables has been vetted, many with sensitive information redacted. This is something Amazon could easily verify for themselves. For goodness sake, there was a link right on the front page of Wikileaks' website, which Amazon was hosting.

Re:So sad (2)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525724)

Simple minded people tend to think all decisions are simple. Sorry, but in the real world, decisions are usually for a number of reasons, not just one. Sometimes there is one issue that is the final one that spurred action, but that doesn't mean there wasn't an avalanche of reasons in addition to it that was the basis of even considering it.

Re:So sad (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525978)

And why they did this just before hundreds of millions of dollars became available for services like the ones they offer, from an organization that really doesn't like Wikileaks.

You do understand that a strategic decision like this takes months, if not years to make, right ? That someone didn't just wake up a week ago and decide "we're going cloud" ?

Re:So sad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526628)

You do understand that a strategic decision like this takes months, if not years to make, right ? That someone didn't just wake up a week ago and decide "we're going cloud" ?

Nonsense. That's exactly how it happens. Decision makers come up with half baked shit all the time at a moments notice. Then they turn it over to the rest of the minions to salvage what they can. It's just that (in government especially) screwing around for years to study the problem is status quo.
Case in point. If the government had their shit together, they would have went straight to wikilweaks to begin with, and exercised a little editorial control. If you ask me bureaucracies spend half their time with the head in the cloud and the other half up their a$$.

Re:So sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527112)

no if the government had their shit together, wikileaks wouldn't have anything noteworthy to report, leaks or not. why? because our esteemed leaders would have no dirty laundry in the first place.

Re:So sad (4, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526380)

First of all, there is no cloud. A "cloud computing system" is a server and/or group of servers. All they're doing is closing down data centers and moving the data to either someone else's or other government centers. Second, if it "is" managed services who's managing it? If I have a data center in Houston run by say the IRS and I'm an employee in Bridgport and my files are on servers in Houston then I'm "cloud" computing. This is an over-hyped bunch of crap. While everyone is drooling over the new marketing term think about the big elephant in the room. Yeah, we call him Tim. Know what he's doing? Firing all those people in those data centers that are closing down. The nice thing about "moving to the cloud" or more correctly "outsourcing" is that eventually, they come back. Why? Because putting your stuff in someone else's hands just to free yours eventually makes you wonder about what you had in your hands. It's like sending your friend shopping with your girlfriend. You start to wonder what they're doing when they've been gone too long.

Re:So sad (3, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526754)

It's like sending your friend shopping with your girlfriend. You start to wonder what they're doing when they've been gone too long.

Your points are all perfectly salient, but this makes me think you need better friends and/or a better girlfriend.

Re:So sad (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526912)

Good point. :p

Re:So sad (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527594)

It's like sending your friend shopping with your girlfriend. You start to wonder what they're doing when they've been gone too long.

No problem, I only send her out with slashdot readers ;-)
   

Re:So sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527266)

I see what you did there.

2nd post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34525540)

2nd post, yay!

How typical (0)

z-j-y (1056250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525558)

If I'm a racist, I would say he's a perfect stereotype of Indian IT man specializing in hype and buzz.

Re:How typical (1, Funny)

z-j-y (1056250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525574)

and If Obama is a racist, he would hire an Indian to take care of IT, a Jew to take care of money, and himself to take care of basketball.

Re:How typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527968)

and If Obama is a racist, he would hire an Indian to take care of IT, a Jew to take care of money, and himself to take care of basketball.

No, he wouldn't make a jew take care of money - they'd steal it all for themselves.

Posting anon so the Zionist Council of World Domination can't steal my brain waves with their orbital telescopes.

not a terrible idea (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525576)

We're moving this way in academia as well: it used to be that every research group doing anything of note with computers had to have its own servers, but the vast majority just sit idle all the time, and the maintenance overhead and potential for maintenance disruptions is very large (if your one main server has a hard drive failure, everything is on hold until you scramble to fix it). The trend has been to virtualize those, unless you're a research group with particularly high or specific computational needs, like doing cluster-computing or systems research.

The main open question is whether the virtualization will go mainly internally or externally. Should we just buy some EC2 instances from Amazon? Or should the department (or school, or university) maintain some compute resources that individual research groups can request virtual-machines on?

Altn Haberleri (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34525748)

We're moving this way in academia as well: it used to be that every research group doing anything of note with computers had to have its own servers, but the vast majority just sit idle all the time, and the maintenance overhead and potential for maintenance disruptions is very large (Altn fiyatlar [slashdot.org] ).

We had that setup in the 1960s and the 1970s. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34525898)

We had just that setup in the 1960s and the 1970s at the universities I worked at. We called them "mainframes".

Then we spent most of the 1980s and 1990s trying to get rid of them, because highly centralized systems are often extremely expensive to build and maintain, and usually don't actually provide what each of the many users actually requires.

In terms of reliability, it's better for a single department or lab to be unable to get their work done due to software or hardware failure of some sort, rather than the entire campus being shit out of luck when the mainframe, err, "cloud", has issues.

You fools will spend the next decade getting this "cloud" bullshit put in place. Then around 2020 or so, you'll have had 10 years worth of problems. You'll then spend until 2030 trying to undo the mess. Sometime around 2040 you'll succeed, but by that time the current IT staff will have forgotten the problems that "cloud computing" caused between 2010 and 2020, and then by 2050 they'll be in the process of centralizing again...

Re:We had that setup in the 1960s and the 1970s. (2)

internewt (640704) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526100)

You fools will spend the next decade getting this "cloud" bullshit put in place. Then around 2020 or so, you'll have had 10 years worth of problems. You'll then spend until 2030 trying to undo the mess. Sometime around 2040 you'll succeed, but by that time the current IT staff will have forgotten the problems that "cloud computing" caused between 2010 and 2020, and then by 2050 they'll be in the process of centralizing again...

Solving one problem whilst making another is the basis of capitalism!

Industry knows the situation you have illustrated, and hence why this US government policy has come up: it has been lobbied for by the very companies that stand to benefit from the modern mainframe.

Re:We had that setup in the 1960s and the 1970s. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526388)

Does this mean Cobols coming back ?

Re:We had that setup in the 1960s and the 1970s. (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526488)

There's some truth to that, I agree. I think one major reason for the changeover, though, was a period in which there was no great centralized solution. By the late 1990s, and especially early 2000s, the centralized big-iron stuff that many universities ran was just not that impressive compared to commodity x86: we could buy a relatively cheap x86 server for $2000 that ran circles around the UltraSPARC behemoth that the department was still maintaining. But virtualization and clustering on commodity hardware circa 2001 was not that great, so it wasn't particularly easy for central IT to switch. I mean, their UltraSPARC was slow, but it had 64 gigs of RAM and could support dozens of simultaneous users, something that was hard to replicate on a 2001-era x86 machine. So there was a period when everyone just bought a Dell machine and stuck it under their office desk, as the easiest upgrade path.

It's not clear to me that's still the optimal solution, though. If I just want some server that's always on and has decent hardware, we're back again at the point where central IT can fairly easily provide it to me, by giving me a VM. Or I can buy that VM myself from Amazon or some VPS provider if I want. I'm sympathetic to the argument that everything old is new again, but for my needs, the Dell-under-the-desk approach to server provisioning just doesn't seem optimal currently, though there were a few years where it was.

Re:We had that setup in the 1960s and the 1970s. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526800)

you will care when those in charge of your data don't care about it as much as you do.. you will care when your line is cut and you realize you can't get any work done..

Re:We had that setup in the 1960s and the 1970s. (3, Informative)

dachshund (300733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526992)

All very good points. I would add that there's a big difference between the old days where you had one local mainframe, and a situation where you have a dozen cloud providers. Even within a single cloud provider (say, Amazon), the service is run across several geographically-distributed datacenters. The failure of one shouldn't take everything down. In an ideal world you could move your server images from place to place, provider to provider, and even to local hardware if that proved necessary. This is a benefit of modern virtualization.

Of course this isn't exactly how things work yet --- you can't easily migrate between services and local hardware. But it's early days and some clients will probably demand that kind of flexibility.

Re:We had that setup in the 1960s and the 1970s. (2)

Daishiman (698845) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526542)

In the 1960s and 70s there were no minicomputers that could do scientific computing effectively. Centralized systems today are far cheaper than having your own setup. Times change.

Re:We had that setup in the 1960s and the 1970s. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527204)

One of the big differences now is that the base unit of 'computer' is not the mainframe itself, it's now a virtual machine on the high-powered hardware.

That gives us redundancy, multiple OSes, flexible 'hardware' at the base computing level.

That allows us to improve efficiency and usage of resources, as they don't sit idle. It's also possible to give each user EXACTLY what they want through the ability to have multiple virtual machines. Reliability is fantastic as it's possible to move virtual machines from one server to another. This makes hardware failure cause minimal downtime, if any at all. For software failure, the sandboxing that multiple VMs provides allows other systems to stay running even if one virtual machine goes haywire from some memory leak or crash.

I realize it's a push back towards a 'mainframe' mindset, but many of the downsides aren't there anymore.

Re:We had that setup in the 1960s and the 1970s. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527376)

Cloud computing luckily does have nothing to do with mainframes. Just because oyu have one central adressing space in your filesystem, does not mean that you have one BIG location where its stored. Usually you get all the redundancy and any size you want. That's the tiny improvement htat has been made since 1980s

Re:not a terrible idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526462)

Well, to be fair, there is SAN which is also bootable in some cases. That eliminates disk failures.. but yes, the idea of silo'ed server hardware is a big problem.
The problem I have is when anyone relies upon an existing external company as their data center, it creates dependency on external companies and their policies/procedures.

Once that happens, your at the mercy of whatever the wind blows.

Re:not a terrible idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526472)

Way to keep propagating bullshit. GO FUYOURSELF! It's called RAID and you are a sellout to the human race.

Re:not a terrible idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527854)

I've just spent two months at school setuping Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud and trying it out as a project, and hopefully I won't have to do this anymore ever.

I recommend you get the EC2 instances from Amazon, unless you're a masochist.

Sounds like a plan (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525614)

I heard some place called 'Wikileaks' was offering the government a good deal for cheap cloud hosting.

Re:Sounds like a plan (1)

linest (157204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525642)

Sure. It's just data, right?

Re:Sounds like a plan (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525708)

Free, in fact. How can you pass that up?

Re:Sounds like a plan (1)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526648)

Yeah, but their security polocies aren't very good and getting C&A'd has proven to be nearly impossible...

As a fan of WikiLeaks... (4, Insightful)

MasterOfMagic (151058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525628)

I welcome this move. Sure hope you have enough of an infrastructure to keep, say, taxpayer SSNs, DOBs, mother's maiden names out of the cloud, not to mention the inevitable access to this cloud resource by the SIPRnet.

It's a good time for government transparency, whether intentional or not.

Re:As a fan of WikiLeaks... (2)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525730)

It's a good time for government transparency, whether intentional or not.

Except in all the countries that would really benefit from more transparency, like China.

Oh well, I guess all those oppressed people don't really matter -- let's keep on showing the dictatorships of the world exactly why they don't want to give their people free speech and a free press!

Re:As a fan of WikiLeaks... (1)

ZaphDingbat (451843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526322)

Wait-- are you honestly saying "let's not actually use free speech and free press because that will stop other countries from giving their citizens these vitally... important rights... that we don't use?"

Re:As a fan of WikiLeaks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527180)

the cables I especially like are the ones where the US support for dictators is displayed. It really shows why the US versus Dictators or US versus Oppression discussion is irrelevant.

Re:As a fan of WikiLeaks... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34525744)

agreed. congress is going to step into siprnet too.
http://whatsbrewin.nextgov.com/2010/05/hill_wants_access_to_secret_siprnet.php
its time for more transparency with more people having access to siprnet and cloud based infrastructure supporting public information access to government stored data.

Re:As a fan of WikiLeaks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526278)

I welcome this move. Sure hope you have enough of an infrastructure to keep, say, taxpayer SSNs, DOBs, mother's maiden names out of the cloud, not to mention the inevitable access to this cloud resource by the SIPRnet.

Don't be silly. We'll also outsource everything to China giving them the ability to turn our government off with one big red switch.

Re:As a fan of WikiLeaks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526492)

Sure hope you have enough of an infrastructure to keep, say, taxpayer SSNs, DOBs, mother's maiden names out of the cloud, not to mention the inevitable access to this cloud resource by the SIPRnet.

I see some dark and heavy clouds on the horizon, as if before a storm..

Clouds don't leak right? (4, Insightful)

Peverbian (243571) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525632)

Clouds don't leak right? I mean, there's no way any sensitive information could make its way out of there on some Root Access Inter-Node something.

Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34525808)

Wait a minute. I'm a manager, and I've been reading a lot of case studies and watching a lot of webcasts about The Cloud. Based on all of this glorious marketing literature, I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

The case studies all use words like "secure", "MD5", "RSS feeds" and "encryption" to describe the security of The Cloud. I don't know about you, but that sounds damn secure to me! Some Clouds even use SSL and HTTP. That's rock solid in my book.

And don't forget that you have to use Web Services to access The Cloud. Nothing is more secure than SOA and Web Services, with the exception of perhaps SaaS. But I think that Cloud Services 2.0 will combine the tiers into an MVC-compliant stack that uses SaaS to increase the security and partitioning of the data.

My main concern isn't with the security of The Cloud, but rather with getting my Indian team to learn all about it so we can deploy some first-generation The Cloud applications and Web Services to provide the ultimate platform upon which we can layer our business intelligence and reporting, because there are still a few verticals that we need to leverage before we can move to The Cloud 2.0.

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34525892)

...I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

Is this guy serious? Ugh, there's little more I hate than some ignorant business person touting the awesomeness of something they don't even understand.

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526134)

clicka clacka clicka cllacka CLICKA CLIACKA OWW WOOSH..

The sound of a the duh train wooshing past you after it ran over your foot.

Re:Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526376)

...I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

Is this guy serious? Ugh, there's little more I hate than some ignorant business person touting the awesomeness of something they don't even understand.

Nope, it's a repost [google.com]

Re:Clouds don't leak right? (3, Interesting)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526162)

There is less surface area to cover, and the architecture has potential to be more standardized. I'd say it will probably be easier to maintain security with a few big clouds than with 800 random smaller datacenters. (Note, nothing says they need to use Amazon or Microsoft's cloud -- they can make their own.)

Re:Clouds don't leak right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526308)

Clouds don't leak right?

No. But cloud content has a history of dropping like rain from the heavens upon the place beneath twice blessed.

Re:Clouds don't leak right? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526652)

the sig... read the sig !

Big buzzkill, over-dramatized (5, Interesting)

adosch (1397357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525648)

I work as a federal contractor at a Department of Interior funded datacenter that is actually suppose to be taking on the 'work' from some of the downsized datacenters. Comical bit is, we've known about this for well over a year prior to TFA, and it's a total bean-counter move. The goal is "use less servers, and less operating systems". We still have zero idea what we are getting in, who we're getting it from, what it'll be, ect. To me, we're preparing more for straight P2V virtualization than we at all worried about some desk jockey's 'cloud' buzzword he put in his report.

Re:Big buzzkill, over-dramatized (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34525894)

Being a consult in other agencies, "Consolation" has been a total failure - the divisions which manage the integrated infrastructure are terrible understaffed and underskilled. I can't imagine how bad it will be once they start setting up a Department only to handle "Cloud Infrastructure" - Good luck getting departments to play nice when diviisisons within the same department can't.

Re:Big buzzkill, over-dramatized (2)

Xeger (20906) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526258)

No doubt, cloud is a huge buzzword at the moment. No reason you can't use that to your advantage, however.

"Cloud computing" in common parlance means at least three things at the moment:

* A marginal-cost pricing model for compute resources (pay for only what you use)
* Making use of virtualization in one's app architecture
* Pervasive use of automation in the architecture and throughout the software lifecycle (dev/test/deploy)

#1 is a bit of a fad; some workloads can be shoved out into a public cloud with no risk to security or availability, but many workloads will never be suited for that.

However, #2 and #3 are here to stay for the next decade -- and even if computer architecture makes another massive swing (e.g. massive parallelism or quantum computing or some hooey) and virtualization is no longer as sexy as it is right now, automation always has been, and will always continue to be, a key component of successful IT operations. Automation = productivity!

Even a large part of what we call the "virtualization benefit" is actually due to automation-related productivity. The fact that I can take my pre-built OS + app stack and deploy it on whichever hardware I wish -- and in some cases even migrate it between two differently-capable host systems WHILE my guest is running! -- is all a flavor of automation. We've always been able to migrate servers, but it used to require a screwdriver and lots of patience.

So -- my advice is, don't look down your nose at the sudden cloudiness! Take advantage of this buzzword-laden atmosphere to justify your sound technical decisions to the businessfolk, in terms that their feeble minds can understand. ;-)

slashdot.com vs. cars.gov vs. animoto.com (2)

theodp (442580) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525654)

Daily unique visitors: slashdot.com vs. cars.gov vs. animoto.com [google.com]

Re:slashdot.com vs. cars.gov vs. animoto.com (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525850)

Yeah but what's the server demands of each of those visitors?

Animoto downloads, processes and encodes video and audio. Cars.gov and Slashdot are ASCII jockies.

Re:slashdot.com vs. cars.gov vs. animoto.com (1)

Coolhand2120 (1001761) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526088)

Fixed that for ya:

Daily unique visitors: slashdot.com vs. cars.gov vs. animoto.com [google.com]

Averages are a bitch. cars.gov had plenty more traffic, but only for a short period of time.

Remote sites don't have a lot of bandwidth to (5, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525694)

Remote sites don't have a lot of bandwidth to do mass cloud and with only a few data centers all it takes is one back hoe to lead to a shut down while the cable is being fixed.

Management productivity improvements are a lot of BS that leads to alot paper work and people waiting a long just to get the tools to they need to do there job. Just what we need more MBA PHB's.

Some remote sites are on Satellite Internet that with FAP and high lag will suck when the on side data sever goes away.

Have to look at it from their perspective (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525706)

Having a background in government, I can say, from their perspective, cloud services are a big win. It's not perfect, but it's a better deal than they get from any of their contract IT services.

Cloud services would have sunk NMCI before EDS sank the Navy. The billions the Navy spent on managed networks to get a desktop PC, email and productivity software was one of the biggest wastes of taxpayer money ever.

Re:Have to look at it from their perspective (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525946)

Better I suppose because it becomes someone else's problem. I'm not necessarily saying it's a bad thing, but no matter what way you spin it, it's a weaker solution from an infrastructure point of view. I've considered it on occasion, and if I get my next big contract in 2012, I may even consider going to Google's apps for email and collaboration services.

What cloud? (3, Informative)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525786)

"Cloud" is just a way of saying you have a standardized, generic way of scaling your systems. The new buzzword adds an excuse to outsource the whole thing to a "reputable" supplier and avoid taking any responsibility. If your needs are small this is a great concept. You get to use the same iron as the big boys, without the up front investments.

For someone the size of the government however, I think it's rather strange they are not using clouds already. They may never have called them clouds, but surely they have some reasonable in-house systems architects, no?

Re:What cloud? (5, Informative)

Natales (182136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526066)

No. The term "cloud" may have started as a buzz word but it has taken some serious shape in less than a year. For a serious, comprehensive definition, check a short document [nist.gov] posted by NIST.

In short, "Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction".

It doesn't have to be necessarily hosted on external providers. It may very well be an internal, Private Cloud. And if it's built on top of open standards such as the vCloud API [vmware.com] , you may end up with vApps that can be moved from internal to external clouds and back, as well as hybrids.

Re:What cloud? (2)

cetialphav (246516) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526202)

For someone the size of the government however, I think it's rather strange they are not using clouds already.

Clouds work well when several departments can consolidate computing resources on a single data center. That kind of thing does not happen well between government agencies. Part of that may be due to inept bureaucracies, but much of that is due to the way that money is allocated and tracked around the government. The law will often designate funds for very specific purposes so that means you can't have the money dedicated for the Department of Interior paying for the electricity used by a computer for the Department of Homeland Security. This kind of thing requires everybody to have their own servers and data centers. Outsourcing this actually makes things easier because a third party can charge a fixed rate for computer usage and worry about how to best aggregate services without having to tied up with government red tape.

Re:What cloud? (3, Interesting)

EaglesNest (524150) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526552)

I am a reasonable, in-house system architect for a major federal agency. Yes, we use virtual servers for most of our applications. This doesn't reduce the number of operating systems that we have, but it certain reduces the number of physical servers and disk arrays that we have to maintain. It's a scalable environment and allows for redundancy between data centers. Most of our users who access our systems are scattered nationwide, so network outages either affect only them, or must be so severe that they take down mutiple data centers each with multiple ISP connections, power sources and HVAC. I supposed that you could call this operating our own "cloud." I don't really care what you call it. I believe it's the among the most efficient and effective solutions for our needs, but doesn't hold us hostage to any one service provider. During out last phase of the migration to our current architecture, our P2V process was straightforward and comfortable. The tools are robust and mature.

If you are thinking of replacing physical servers with virtual or a "cloud," please either build the cloud yourself, or encrypt at the LUN or virtual disk level. For God's sake don't allow any data at rest or in transit to reside or cross over networks owned by third-parties, contractors, etc.

BTW, yes, an MBA or MPP or even PMP probably would go father to get to up to the higher grades in federal public service than a computer science degree. Then again, a CCIE wouldn't hurt either.

Perhaps someone can explain to me (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525798)

as someone who's allergic to buzzwords - WTF is the difference between "cloud computer services" and "a VMWare instance on a suitably redundant infrastructure with a reputable hosting firm"?

This makes some sense if you're a relatively small company which could neither afford nor justify that sort of infrastructure for themselves. But the government?

Re:Perhaps someone can explain to me (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525856)

WTF is the difference between "cloud computer services" and "a VMWare instance on a suitably redundant infrastructure with a reputable hosting firm"?

9 words

Re:Perhaps someone can explain to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526054)

When looked at from the MBA perspective, 'cloud' also means "putting all our shit on the shoulders of a third party, so that way when they have some sort of failure/crash/breach we can immediately throw all of our pointer fingers right at them and take absolutely no blame ourselves."

Re:Perhaps someone can explain to me (1)

Natales (182136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526150)

VMs are great abstractions, but they are still tied to the 'plumbing' underneath.

If you pack one or more VMs with an XML wrapper that defines ALL your service levels, from Security and Compliance to DR, to expected I/O performance, you get something called a vApp (standarized with the OVF 1.0 format specification [vmware.com] ).

Now you defined exactly what does your application need. The next step is to make sure the underlying infrastructure is capable of properly fulfilling that SLA. That is achieved by abstracting the concept of datacenter (virtual datacenter in this case). VMware coded that into their vCloud Director [vmware.com] product which will make sure that if you land a vApp, the infrastructure can fulfill the SLA.

All this is not as simple as landing a VM on a hosting provider. You need automation, end-to-end security and above all, you need to "trust" that your infrastructure will take care of your SLA automatically. Otherwise trigger-happy lawyers can get involved.

Disclaimer: I work for VMware.

Re:Perhaps someone can explain to me (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526336)

Don't apologise, it's useful to hear. I was sort-of hoping someone who really knew what they were talking about would reply.

If I'm being perfectly honest, though, it doesn't sound much different to what I described - albeit rather more sophisticated. I've seen videos where there are two datacenters mirrored and they simulate destroying one, and the other picks up the load within one or two minutes pretty seamlessly, but I've never set up such a system before.

A company looking to cloud providers can save on the capital costs - they don't have to buy a physical bit of tin - and in theory (assuming their provider actually sprung for the whole kit & caboodle, which is a pretty big assumption, seeing as most won't reveal even the smallest detail of their infrastructure) they get something that is for all practical purposes immune to hardware failure. Something they couldn't possibly afford were they to price things up themselves, but the cloud provider can because the same bit of tin will be providing virtual servers to a number of other clients.

Assuming the company is not buying a full SaaS solution, AFAICT they've still got to set up an OS, still got to configure their applications, still got to ensure that their OS remains secure and still got to deal with the fall out if it transpires that even if the hardware's bulletproof by virtue of being virtualised, the software may not be. Hang on a minute - didn't there used to be companies that rented out mainframes in a similar fashion way back when, before such things became unnecessary because we all had perfectly adequate PCs on our desktops?

Re:Perhaps someone can explain to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526246)

Okay, here goes...

"The Cloud" typically refers to public-internet based services marketed to end users and smaller companies who require bandwidth, storage, computational power, or specialized software that they cannot afford to maintain locally. In this, the most common current use of the term, you're basically right.

However, the author does something quite unusual when he begins by lauding "The Cloud" in the conventional sense, then abruptly begins using the term in the context of the client/server model generally. He is not talking about taking advantage of third party services when necessary, but rather of "using commercial cloud technologies where feasible, launching private government clouds, and utilizing regional clouds with state and local governments where appropriate," and "standing up secure government-wide cloud computing platforms." I get the impression that you could put this guy in a room full of serial terminals or show him a map of the Internet, and in either case he'd call it the cloud.

This type of imprecision continued at least as far as I read (didn't finish). If you're really allergic to buzzwords, DO NOT READ THE PDF. You will die. For instance, they will not post information on the datacenter consolidation on the web. No sir! They're going to "launch a publicly available dashboard to serve as a window into progress." Now that's impressive!

The real reason Jamie & Adam were invited by P (1)

brianc (11901) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525804)

So now we learn the real reason Jamie & Adam visited [discovery.com] the White House recently...

>> 24 Launch “myth-busters” education campaign

Is this the new security policy? (4, Funny)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34525860)

"We can leak ourselves way better than any upstart Wikileaks wannabe, ha!"

If you give your data to another party ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526002)

that party owns your data.

Wait until Cheney puts the Energy Task Force papers on the cloud. Only then will you know it is secure.

Vivek Kundra is a fraud (4, Interesting)

Coolhand2120 (1001761) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526030)

...calls for cutting 800+ data centers by 2015, as well as shifting work to cloud computing systems.

Correction:
...call for cutting 800+ data centers by 2015 as well as shifting work to privately owned data centers.

If I hear someone talk about cloud computing again I think I’ll lose my lunch.

That said, Vivek Kundra is a fraud. Anything coming from his mouth is tainted. At the very least the guy lied on his resume about having a degree in biology, then all of a sudden his bio changed and he LOST the degree! Good thing there’s an internet archive!

Others agree:

But his degree in biology has yet to appear as his record shows a degree from College Park Campus for Psychology and nothing more.

http://www.dvorak.org/blog/2009/08/12/special-report-is-us-chief-information-officer-cio-vivek-kundra-a-phony/ [dvorak.org]
http://www.businessinsider.com/americas-cio-vivek-kundra-must-go-2009-3 [businessinsider.com]
http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/obamas-cio-vivek-kundra-previous-close-employees-arrested-fraud-bribery [economicpopulist.org]
http://tech.rightpundits.com/?p=36 [rightpundits.com]

Re:Vivek Kundra is a fraud (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526154)

the 25-Point Plan calls for cutting 800+ data centers by 2015

You mean eliminating 800 of the 1000 data centers they didn't know they had?

Re:Vivek Kundra is a fraud (4, Informative)

Coolhand2120 (1001761) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526244)

Anyone who has taken any sort of networking class knows the internet is the cloud. In any network diagram the internet is represented as the cloud, hence the name cloud computing, using the internet instead of your local servers. The government invented the internet, not Al Gore as some may think. The DOD need a way to run a network in a decentralized way in case of nuclear attack. They didn't want their computers to stop working if the central hub went down. That's why every packet says DOD in it. The internet was a DARPA project. [slashdot.org] Now I'm just summing this up for those who haven't heard about it, yes I know they didn't invent everything, but they got it going. Now the people (government) who invented the cloud, and have been using it since its inception, are now going to stop using the cloud and move to the cloud? It's uneducated drivel, and speaks volumes of Vivek Kundra's knowledge of the cloud. Even if he’s not a fraud, and I believe he is, he shouldn’t be our nations CIO.

Re:Vivek Kundra is a fraud (3, Insightful)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527518)

And anyone who's done the least bit of research on outsourcing knows that it may actually _increase_ costs in the long-term, because the security of the data and the proper management of the data is worth far more than the savings found by giving your nuts to some other squirrel to fuck around with.

Cloud First! (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526122)

Aerith second.

Re:Cloud First! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526170)

<spoiler>Aerith dies</spoiler>

Another thing for the gov to screw up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526248)

Cloud computing is a great idea for many situations - companies that want to focus on core capabilities and outsource support function, large companies that want to centralize services and control and I'm sure there are many others. For the government it is a much different story. First I want to say that this will most likely be an unmitigated success on paper - we will save billions of taxpayer dollars, increase security and bring peace to the known universe.

In reality it will be much like the centralization of other support services in the government, which has really cost us much more money and established small kingdoms that control the services that are squandered on unneeded efforts that help the support organization more than the actual internal customers. The people that really do the work and need to store their data will wait months and years to get the resources that they need and will actually be told what they need by PHBs in the central management kingdom. You have to realize, the US Federal government is a huge beast. This is not a tiny little country with a streamlined central government. Closely related entities such as the Army and Air Force have much different ways of doing things and many many meetings and working groups are needed just to get them to coordinate and standardize simple efforts. What works for the VA will not work for HUD will not work for the State Dept. will not work for the Navy as it stands. Whoever has the most influence in this cloud computing effort will force their way, this is how it always works.

Even if you do cloud computing within a given branch of the government such as the Army, the core competency units in the Army will be what drives the design of the data centers. The problem with this is the core competency in the Army is infantry and other fighting units. They are really limited users of data relative to other organizations within the Army such as the research and development community. The government generally focuses its big efforts on the 80% of the users, which is just common sense, and most of the other 20% realize this and just do for themselves. However, when you have this big directive from on high to migrate to "Cloud Computing" (a buzzword that will be implemented badly) these "other" units will not be able to do for themselves, they will have to listen to nonsense people talking about nonsense solutions to problems that they have never had to deal with - it happens all the fucking time. Most likely this migration will cost much more than expected as nearly 98% of all of these type of large migration projects do and money will be tight by the time that they get to the 20% of the users that aren't core, but have higher and more stringent data needs that the grunts at Ft. Hood. At that point, waivers will be signed and people will get back to work after a few years of fighting about nonsense, but in many places two or three systems will exist - the systems in the cloud that don't meet our needs, but we "have to use", the systems we actually use and were able to keep or stand up by finding a loophole in the system and the worst of the lot - the system that were stood up in secret because we can't live without them, but couldn't legally get them. This last class of systems are the ones that get compromised most often and actually are a big security risk and done improperly cost more to manage and power.

I do actually think that the "cloud computing" idea is great for the federal gov't. The problem is that the government is so mired in bureaucracy and rules for rules' sake that something so fluid and dynamic could never work it will be policied and regulated to death. The final nail in the coffin for this effort will be the fact that the best gov't employees are not the ones who understand new technologies and how they should be used, but the ones that can navigate the corridors of paperwork and nonsense regulations (bitter much? - I know I know) combined with the fact that the gov't generally want solutions that any ol' dumb-ass can use instead of hiring skilled and educated workers.

Animoto Investor Amazon Got Recovery.gov Contract (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526288)

As the Federal CIO sang the praises [brookings.edu] of Amazon.com-backed [xconomy.com] Animoto's use of the Amazon Cloud, the Chairman of the Recovery Board decided giving Amazon the contract to host Recovery.gov [recovery.gov] was the right thing to do, and called on the public to 'imagine if other, much larger federal agencies were to follow our lead.'

Credit for deciding to tap Amazon was given to government contractor Smartronix [oreilly.com] , who reportedly used AWS in the development and testing of recovery.gov [keynote.com] , but did not go live with it in the initial roll-out.

The government planned to find another home for the more than $1 million in computer hardware and software that were previously purchased to host the (apparently) relatively low-traffic Recovery.gov site [google.com] , but were no longer needed after hosting was switched to Amazon.

Sensitive classified data on cloud (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526324)

This doesn't sound a like a good idea if you ask me.

They did it in VA. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526378)

Virginia consolidated all of its services into a single networked system [slashdot.org] and it's worked great for us! [slashdot.org]

So I'm sure the feds will have no problem deploying this to provide public services to its constituents. Of course, by "constituents" I mean "corporate donors" and "services" means "no-bid contracts". Regular citizens are just going to get screwed because it's not like they have any influence in the government.

Is THIS the reaction to Wikileaks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526410)

Pointy haired Fed manager "Shift blame to the cloud as fast as possible as in cut our risk by 2015!"
Cloud epic phial.

Privatization of government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526584)

Privatization of government, its resources, and its critical dependencies.

So rather than fix the issues of poor training (particularly of management within the ranks) and lazy HR approaches of least effort hiring that have plague federal IT staffing and self-management, they are going to out source it to privately owned and controlled cloud data centres.

If these data centres happen to be in China or India (or wherever), where the low cost of IT system and network administration labour makes their US based "front" company successful at placing a winning lowest bid, do you think the country and its economy are really going to benefit from unemployment of additional tens of thousands of middle class IT workers who currently work for the US government? To think nothing of the international economic espionage risks.

At face value it appears to be another example of no root cause analysis, being lazy in doing critical research on understanding the risks / rewards - and just believing the corporate white papers, and vendor-funded "independent" analyst reports.

Rather than go in and try to fix the problems in the existing data centres, which have been already paid for, they are going to scrape it and shift to third-party model on an optimistic schedule, self-congratulate themselves (federal CIOs) while finishing their final year before they retire to explore new career opportunities, which may or may not happen to include the vendors of those cloud services.

Same old story of government procurement being abused, just different industry buzzwords.

Predicted from a movie and song.... (1)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526746)

Once more, they (Microsoft) will replenish themselves. Cheat death again! The power of their source? The Crystal. Smart business move even if I hate em. Once again they will be completely irreplaceable.

Wishful Thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527124)

I wish they would just adopt an "apply common sense policy first" policy

Politics-driven IT (2)

PaulMeigh (1277544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527340)

My dad spent most of his career as a developer for a federal agency. He always lamented that the direction of the organization would change according to electoral results. Not so much because R's and D's disagree on how to run IT, but because a new regime means new appointees at the top. The tendency is for them to advocate for the latest and greatest (buzzword) so that they can show cool bullet-points for their bosses. In reality, the IT planning/testing/implementation cycle in a federal bureaucracy turns out to usually be longer than the election cycle so the impact is minimal. By the time it's conclusively proven that the .NET/Java/Oracle/Cloud solution does not work, there's a new boss in place and a new hype-cycle to chase.

Sounds like greedy vendors pushing wares (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527576)

Many custom applications are finicky about their environment, such as database, web server, and library version. You can't just slap them on a different generic box and have them work as-is. If the tuner is far away and detached, then they won't have any feel for a given application. You get a generic server monkey who has no knowledge or feel for YOUR shop's particulate application.

Sure, one could "fix" the problem by having more programmers and testers to make the apps more transferable, but that also has a cost associated with it; likely more than the savings of going with a generic cloud.

Clouds sound great on paper, but not always in practice. Maybe for file-only servers, it could work, but not applications.
   

Cheaper, for sure... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527610)

Far cheaper to pwn the government in toto, as you'll be able to attack at points of intersection and consolidation rather than across thousands of servers spread throughout hundreds of buildings. And way cheaper to offshore the whole kit and kaboodle once the work of migrating to "the cloud" is done.

Yup...government is being run like a business: Zilch in the way of advantages to the American people or the nation other than cost.

They didn't learn squat from WikiLeaks.

Stupid is as stupid does... (1)

dogzdik (1700552) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527648)

Something tells me that DESPITE all of the entire USA etc., being fucking hackable.... (more or less) that rather than having a bunch of isolated services, all interconnected by dedicated phone lines or hard wiring; the idiots have them all connected by the net, and now they all want to operate NOT as hardware driven driven computers in separate locations, but as dumb terminals all hooked up on the internet.

.

Ummm excuse me? But since when has outright lazyness and a little extra cost for manual transport and connectivity and security overtaken "unstaffing" and remote control of everything.

.

Sure it's great when the infrastructure of an entire nation is controlled from some remote location, but "don't these idiots get it?", "Oh we are so worried about being hacked and having all the power stations shut down, the transport system and everything etc....

.

And now - "Fuck the people in charge ARE stupid.

.

Maximum profit, minimum staff, then no staff, then all long distance remote control.....

.

Now they are not even having PC's on the NET, and connectivity via the net, they are just going for dumb terminals and distant data centers....

.

Fuck me. Some people ARE just so fucking stupid.

Clouds - because they are so substantial... (1)

Auldclootie (1131129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527796)

The characteristics of a cloud are not ideally suited to reliable data storage. Clouds are well known to be ephemeral and to change their size, shape and density according to the dictates of the local climate. Furthermore, clouds are much less substantial than they appear and can be blown away by the winds which spring up apparently at random - a whiff of senator's breath/wind can blow away a cloud. Clouds can evaporate and leave one defenseless in the glare of whatever it was that just zapped your cloud... Clouds are out of your control... Clouds do not have long life spans... Clouds become distorted and sometimes appear as fog.... We all know the fates of those with their heads in the clouds... So, don't say you were not warned!
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