The Office of Management and Budget, housed within the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. 

Jul 09 2018

OMB Hopes New ‘Cloud Smart’ Strategy Will Accelerate Migrations

The forthcoming strategy document will highlight areas of success in government cloud adoption and seek to leverage these best practices for all agencies.

It has often been said that one key hurdle federal agencies need to overcome to move applications to the cloud is cultural resistance. The Office of Management and Budget is trying a new, straightforward tack: focus on what’s working and try to replicate those strategies across the government.

Within the next few months, OMB is expected to release a new government cloud strategy, tentatively dubbed “Cloud Smart,” a successor to the government’s cloud-first policy, which was formalized in early 2011.

OMB has spent much of the past year studying what works in terms of cloud adoption and use across government, and that work with agencies will inform the new strategy.

“We’re trying to find new ways for people to get to cloud, and the problem is we’re using the same old approaches,” Bill Hunt, a digital services expert at OMB, said last month at ATARC’s Cloud & Data Center Summit, MeriTalk reports. “We have a lot of different individual policies, that are in these little tiny siloes, that address one thing over here, and another thing over there. We haven’t really been looking holistically across the government.

Hunt added, according to FCW: “We are tentatively calling the strategy Cloud Smart, and we are looking into areas where we have seen success and best practices.”

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New Strategy to Help Agencies Make Cloud Migrations Easier

The White House’s final report on IT modernization, released in December, requires OMB, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, General Services Administration and other federal partners, to update the cloud-first strategy. “This strategy will provide additional guidance to agencies on the most impactful use cases for cloud adoption and how best to conduct appropriate operational security in cloud environments,” the report states.

Despite the intense focus on cloud migration, federal cloud adoption is still not where it needs to be at this point, Hunt said. “Cloud is still not widely adopted across the government,” he said, according to MeriTalk. “A quarter of the spend has been moved over that way, but we still have a ways to go.”

The new strategy will highlight three key areas: security, procurement and workforce, according to Hunt.

Many concerns agencies have had in moving to the cloud have been policy concerns, Hunt said at the ATARC event, according to Federal News Radio. Those include “things that OMB has created that haven’t been updated or refreshed and make it a lot harder to move to the cloud,” he acknowledged.

“That is something we are looking at too,” Hunt said. “This administration really believes in removing those burdensome barriers of policy that aren’t helping people get to these marketplace solutions that we all know and love already.”

According to Federal Times, Hunt said that while many agencies are already pushing to take full advantage of cloud computing capabilities, those that have not will find the new strategy useful. The Cloud Smart strategy will be based on data OMB has collected as well as feedback it has received from agency CIOs on what has and has not worked in the cloud.

“We’ve really just tried to address why we haven’t moved, why the agencies are just not getting where we want them to go, where Congress thinks they should be going, where everybody agrees that they should be going,” Hunt said.

One of those IT leaders is Dave Nelson, CIO of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who said too often he hears that agencies are risk averse and don’t want to move to the cloud. “The role of the CIO in cloud migration has morphed considerably,” he said at the ATARC summit, according to Federal News Radio. “I think many in the cloud services organizations, the vendor community may have missed that shift in the way they continue to talk to CIOs.”

The NRC has overcome initial resistance to moving apps and servers to the cloud, according to Nelson. The agency put its email system in the cloud, recently completed the shift of its collaboration tools to the cloud and is testing high-performance computing activities to support mission decisions, Federal News Radio reports.

Lea Shanley/Wikimedia Commons

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