HHS Crafts Recipes for Cloud Computing

The Health and Human Services Department wants to take the guesswork out of moving to the cloud.

HHS officials are identifying common use cases that illustrate how the department’s operating divisions can use cloud services to meet their missions. Jennifer Gray, cloud enterprise architect at HHS, refers to the use cases as recipes for those who want to adopt cloud services.

Let’s say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants to move a web application to the cloud. The use cases would provide guidance on how to authenticate users or conduct security reviews, Gray told attendees at the AWS Government, Education, and Nonprofits Symposium in Washington, D.C., this week. The use cases will be included in a departmentwide security framework that Gray expects will be released by year’s end.

“There are a lot of things happening on the enterprise approach that, because we are federated, it makes it a little bit challenging,” Gray noted. The department’s Cloud Computing Advisory Committee includes members from across HHS “because we want to make sure that we are providing a [security] baseline that fits all of our operating division’s needs.”

The framework will help to define a common operating environment at HHS and necessary policies and best practices for adopting the cloud, Gray said, at least until HHS adopts a formal governance model.

Governance: An Enabler or Inhibitor of Innovation?

Governance can be a scary word for some people, said Karen Petraska, service executive for computing services in NASA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer. “We are establishing governance, but we’re really calling it guidance, which is a lot better if I give you a handbook that tells you how to solve this problem and how to solve that problem and how to solve some other problem, rather than saying, ‘Here’s your governance model.’”

Petraska, who spoke alongside Gray at the AWS conference, said NASA is taking a soft-pedal approach to governance. The goal is to ensure IT staff can track and manage what law and policies require but not be too restrictive when it comes to adopting new capabilities in the cloud.

“The landscape in the cloud is changing so fast that we don’t even know what the next things are going to be, what the next capabilities are going to push,” Petraska said. “So to some degree, if you plan to survive, you’ve got to know you’re going to have to be flexible to accommodate these other things.”

To learn more about how cloud computing solutions can help your organization get ahead, visit cdw.com/cloud.

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Jun 26 2014