Article by Karolina Kurzac

The move to Cloud Computing: from the White House to the public sector

Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Cloud Computing thought leader. Mr. Jackson’s professional career includes service in the US Navy Space Systems Command, Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and NJVC Vice President, Cloud Services. Recently he served on an Intelligence Agency Commercial Cloud Service (C2S) Onboarding Team and currently acts as Program Manager for an Intelligence Agency Cybersecurity Continuous Monitoring Deployment project.

We talked with Kevin about Cloud Computing top aspects. He is familiar with Cloud adoption in the White House as he worked as a Government Contractor and Computer Security Expert. Also, he was reviewed regarding the Federal government’s push for Cloud Computing before the incoming US president Barack Obama decided to adopt it.

– Kevin, what have been the biggest advantages and the biggest obstacles in Cloud adoption in the White House? 

The biggest advantage in White House cloud adoption was the incredible focus and determination Vivek Kundra exhibited when he served as the nation’s CIO. Although it was unfortunately short-lived, it made the government’s transition to cloud computing inevitable.

The biggest obstacle to cloud computing in the White House, the Federal Government and across the entire IT industry, is that it represents major change. For many years information technology professionals have been comfortable dealing with technology and basically leaving all the other aspects of an organization’s operations to others. As a cost center, the IT Team basically did what they were told to the best of their ability and the “business” paid the bill. Cloud computing is different in that successful deployments require an active collaboration between IT, the Business/Mission Owners and the Financial/Procurement Executive. This collaboration is crucial to managing the tree-way balance between the business/mission model, the economic model and the technology service consumption model. This is new and typically requires significant changes in the organization’s IT, acquisition and operational governance policies.

– Even if many people are not aware of it, one of the Cloud advantages is security. Why is the Cloud the safest option, and what are the other reasons why it is worth to move to the Cloud?

The cloud computing business model depends on quick and efficient infrastructure elasticity and scalability. This requires the brutal enforcement of both technical and operational standards which, in turn, enables a very high degree of automation. This automation makes it very easy to establish and monitor a baseline. Any baseline anomaly can be quickly and automatically detected, investigated, corrected or used to establish a new baseline. This also delivers a much more secure IT operating environment. Most enterprise IT platforms lack both enforceable standards and automation.

Another major advantage in using cloud is that business and operational economics can be tightly coupled to information technology cost. When done properly, every IT expenditure is directly and immediately covered by incoming revenue. These are the types of business models that power companies like Uber, Travelocity and Airbnb. These business models also minimize capital expenditures and can significantly reduce financial risk.

– Do you think Cloud Computing is for everyone or are there cases in which you would not advice applying Cloud Computing into an organisation or business?

Cloud computing is definitely not right for everything. Operations or applications that have very stable and predictable usage patterns are best deployed on custom designed and optimized IT infrastructures. Those that are variable, unpredictable or cyclic would benefit from a cloud based infrastructure. Workloads that can be run on standard or commodity infrastructure could also benefit from using public cloud service providers.

– Right now, in 2017, is Cloud Computing more popular in the public or private sector? Can you provide us with takeaways from governmental cloud computing that can be applied for non governmental organisations?

The private sector is now adopting cloud computing much faster than the public sector. Although they were slow to get started, private companies can typically move to implementation at a much faster rate than public sector bureaucracies. Private sector companies are, however, doing their transitions quietly in order to establish and build an advantage over their competitors.

The biggest takeaway from government that I can provide to the private sector is not to ignore the change management challenge that cloud computing presents. Advance in the government environment is painfully slow for many reasons but the worst of them may be an abhorrence to change. The private sector should embrace their financial incentives and accelerate even faster towards cloud adoption.

– Cybersecurity threats are continuously rising. Which actions needs to be taken by the Trump Administration to provide cybersecurity?

While the Cybersecurity frontline is a constantly morphing battlefield, failure to address the basics of cyber defense is the more significant threat. Focused, consistent and credible enforcement of IT industry known best practices across the US Federal Government is the best thing that the Trump Administration could do for all of us.


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