Sep 09 2019

DHS Lets Components Lead the Way on Cloud Migration

Subagencies within the Department of Homeland Security are taking a variety of approaches as they shift to the cloud.

The Department of Homeland Security is moving to the cloud. It has until June 2020, when its Data Center 2 contract expires. At that time, DHS headquarters and components such as Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are all shifting applications and data to the cloud

DHS is having its components take the lead on that cloud migration. “They’re way out in front of headquarters. Headquarters is playing catch-up, but there’s an opportunity when you’re playing catch-up, when you’re not the first mover,” Kshemendra Paul, cloud action officer and deputy director for strategy and mission at the department’s Office of the CIO, said in mid-August at FCW’s Smart Cloud, Smart Government workshop in Washington, D.C., according to Federal News Network.

“We get to learn from the early adopters,” he added. “We get to leverage their investment, and that’s key to what we’re doing.”

DHS’ internal Cloud Steering Group has been managing the implementation of a federated, enterprisewide strategy for accelerating the modernization and migration of IT applications and infrastructure to the cloud. The group includes representatives from headquarters and DHS components, and it identifies best practices and sets an agencywide cloud migration agenda. 

“We are issuing security guidance, workforce guidance [and] planning guidance, things like that,” Paul said. “Those become guardrails that help drive coherence over time.”

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Best practices for refactoring apps and moving them to the cloud. 

DHS Components Make Progress on Cloud Transition

As of April 2019, 281 of 661 total DHS Federal Information Security Management Act systems were on or in the process of migrating to cloud-based systems, according to MeriTalk

Of those systems, 67 are operational, 32 are in planning, 51 are in development and 13 are migrating.

“About 10 percent of our business systems were already in the cloud — for us, 10 percent of our IT portfolio — and another 30 to 35 percent is in motion, actively migrating, planning, [and] in various stages of getting into the cloud,” Paul said, according to MeriTalk. “It’s a big movement across the department.”

Each agency component has been able to set its own pace for cloud migration based on its mission needs, and they are leading the charge, according to Paul.

USCIS has been using DevOps for several years and is now shifting to cloud-based microservices

At Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency has “taken the approach of focusing on multi-cloud infrastructure, ICE Cloud, and moving applications,” Paul said, according to MeriTalk. Meanwhile, the TSA is investing in Platform as a Service

“[Customs and Border Protection] has been doing a lot of work around virtualization of very large infrastructure, very large applications, and back end databases — and is moving to the cloud too,” Paul said, according to MeriTalk.

All the while, DHS components have been following the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, known as Cloud Smart, and are “totally in alignment” with it, Paul said, MeriTalk reports.

Moving to the cloud will make DHS operations more efficient and spur digital transformation in its mission areas, according to Paul. “We do think that automation that’s enabled by moving to the cloud is critical for increasing agility and speed,” he said. “We do think there’s an opportunity to improve cybersecurity. … And we think there’s opportunities to better leverage our data.”

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