Nov 04 2014

Federal IT: A Race That’s Never Over

Endurance is essential as agencies deal with the never-ending challenges of technology.

Imagine running a marathon: You've climbed hill after hill, dodged potholes and other hazards, tirelessly working to put one mile behind you, then another. After 26.2 arduous miles, you break the tape of the finish line, only to find that you have another race to run, starting immediately.

If that analogy sounds familiar, it might be because, as a federal IT leader, you face the daunting challenge of deploying new technologies and maintaining established IT resources, all while dealing with constant demands to improve services and defend against cyberattackers.

As Commerce Department CIO Steve Cooper puts it, commenting on the need for continuous monitoring: "This is a never-ending journey. The reality is the bad guys will figure out new and sophisticated ways to attack us, and we in turn will figure out more sophisticated ways to identify and to detect and mitigate threats."

Help Along the Way

In addition to tireless endurance, the federal IT journey requires creativity, innovation and attention to detail. Agencies face numerous hurdles, but they can get help. One option is to hand over various IT operations to a cloud provider.

But federal agencies have specific needs, which often can be challenging for the public cloud to meet. For example, when the Securities and Exchange Commission considers cloud providers, it demands that they deliver 99.99 percent uptime.

"If we can achieve that through a cloud provider, we're happy to move into the cloud," says Thomas Bayer, who recently stepped down as CIO of the SEC.

For more on how agencies are making cloud computing work, read "Agencies Explore the Cloud of Clouds." Additionally, Tom Soderstrom of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab offers best practices on effective cloud implementation.