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FCW : January 2013
30 January 2013 FCW.COM istration, for example, launched a cloud services broker- age called YOURcloud. Anil Karmel, NNSA s deputy chief technology of cer, said YOURcloud is built on Los Alamos National Laboratory s Infrastructure on Demand (IOD), a hybrid cloud broker created through a collaborative effort with industry. IOD "acts as a single control plane across both on-premise private clouds and commercial cloud service providers, giving users of the service a single point to manage and provision both servers and services," Karmel said. As a result, YOURcloud "shortens the server provisioning process from months to minutes," said Travis Howerton, NNSA s CTO. It also simpli es data center consolidation and hosts SaaS applications across the agen- cy s distributed environment, he added. In another in-house move, the Defense Department designated DISA as its cloud broker in June 2012, asking DISA to make it easier to "navigate, integrate, consume, extend and maintain cloud services," according to a DOD memo. At the other end of the spectrum, agencies could opt to fully outsource the broker function. Companies such as Appirio, Cloud Sherpas and Infosys are among the vendors offering such services. Or an agency could opt for a middle ground of maintaining responsibility for the broker function but outsourcing speci c tasks to contractors. For example, DISA s RFI asks for industry help in shaping a broker busi- ness model and says contractors might perform activities such as managing and monitoring the performance of cloud services. GSA also plans to maintain a degree of control over the broker function even as it solicits industry input. Kaczmarczyk said brokers could help drive down costs while providing federally approved offerings and common technical services across multiple cloud services. However, "this doesn t mean that we would give up any of our inherently governmental functions, including governance, technical requirements, information security and contract- ing," he added. The hurdles Government of cials face a couple of key questions as they consider the cloud broker model. The most obvious: Does an agency need such a service? Glenn Weinstein, CIO at Appirio, said government agencies lag behind the commercial sector in the adoption of multiple cloud solutions and, therefore, have less of a need for brokers. "We are still not at the point...where we are seeing wide- spread adoption of individual point cloud solutions" at federal agencies, he said. However, if an agency decides its cloud holdings require a broker, a three-pronged question arises: Is it best to go it alone, seek contractor support or fully outsource the broker function? Arguments for the self-service approach include the abil- ity to house all the agency s data in an internal cloud and maintain close oversight of security, Crawford said. Vic Berger, principal technologist at reseller Af gent, said the choice hinges on the level of expertise in a given orga- nization. In that regard, service pro- vider agencies such as DISA "would be much better prepared to be their own brokers versus another organiza- tion," he said. The key disadvantage of the fully in-sourced brokerage is the time and effort it takes to accumulate the tech- nical expertise required to run a bro- kerage. "There is a learning curve in becoming a cloud broker," Crawford said. "If you want to get this up and running quickly, this is going to be a challenge." "In every kind of cutting-edge marketplace, your time to market is extremely long when you try to do it yourself," said Joe Brown, president of Accelera Solutions, a virtualization solutions provider. Moreover, professionals with skills that are in high demand tend to move on to other jobs, which puts agencies in the position of continually replacing knowledge developed inter- nally, Brown said. Total outsourcing --- that is, turning to a public cloud bro- ker --- speeds up the process but results in reduced oversight. "The issue is you have less direct control over the security policies associated with how that public cloud brokerage is operating," Crawford said. Agencies can try to split the difference. A contractor- supported government broker offers a potential way to bal- ance control and time-to-market considerations. Agencies will have to make a choice at some point. Right now, they work directly with cloud service providers or resell- ers to acquire individual cloud services such as email, Kacz- marczyk said. But though that approach has worked for rst adopters, it won t prove viable in the long run. "This is not a sustainable method for government to pro- cure cloud because it treats each engagement as a silo," Kacz- marczyk said. "A cloud brokerage provides a method to eliminate duplication of cloud acquisition, standardize cloud services, recognize commodity pricing and keep pace with technology." ■ ExecTe c h "A cloud brokerage provides a method to eliminate duplication of cloud acquisition, standardize cloud services, recognize commodity pricing and keep pace with technology." Stanley Kaczmarczyk, GSA