Cool Solutions

If Homeland Security is Moving to the Cloud, What’s Your Excuse?


September 17, 2010 9:14 am





Whenever talk drifts to the cloud, there is always someone who plays the security card. The argument goes that you sacrifice security when you virtualize and move to the cloud. Well, if you subscribe to that argument, you might be surprised to learn that Richard Spires, who is CIO at the United States Department of Homeland Security is moving his agency full speed into a private cloud strategy.

According to an article by Rich Miller (no relation) on the Data Knowledge Center Blog, Spires is a big fan of private cloud computing and has taken steps to build a private cloud environment at the super-secret agency. Miller writes:

“We really are trying to act as a private cloud, moving to a services-based pricing model,” said Spires. “We are early in this, but making good progress.” The current offering includes full virtualization capabilities, a multi-tenant environment, and is paid for as a service. One advantage of the new system is that it makes it easier to manage chargebacks for users within the sprawling DHS purview.”

As I’ve argued here many times, one of the key advantages of a private cloud system is the ability to charge users for the resources they use. Every CIO should be paying attention. If you have the ability to charge users, they are more likely to use those resources wisely and you have a better idea for budgeting purposes just what you need.

Obviously, a large department like DHS needs to worry about the ability to continue to scale (or to provide extra services at a moment’s notice during a crisis). The cloud provides a much more flexible environment to meet the changing needs of an organization with the size and complexity of DHS.

You may recall last week, I wrote about another government-sponsored private cloud initiative run by the Defense Information Agency. The interesting thing about that panel discussion at the MIT CIO Conference in 2009 was that it included a pharmaceutical executive who complained she couldn’t use the cloud because of security issues. The moderator pointed out the obvious irony that the DIA was using it, but the private company executive was claiming she couldn’t.

The fact is, if these agencies dealing with highly sensitive information–much more sensitive than anything you’re likely to deal with in the typical private sector company– can accept any security risks, why can’t you?

What’s more, these agencies recognize that the private cloud bring scalability, accountability and flexibility and these are features are more than marketing buzz words. Spire and Hight both realized they could cut costs, reduce hardware complexity and simplify processes by moving to the cloud.

Spire admits his agency is a little buttoned down to consider a public cloud option, but he is convinced a private cloud is a great way to go for his agency.

Seems if the DIH and DIA are in, you might want to reconsider what’s holding you back and see if your concerns are real or imagined.

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  1. By:FlyingGuy

    this is something new!

    NetWare has been doing this for years the accounting module would cut you off if you exceeded your allocation of disk space, printing ( per page! ) etc.

    And even if you didn’t load the accounting module you could limit users disk space usage via both the original NetWare file system and NSS.

    But oh wait! Because it is in the “CLOUD” it is new and it is suddenly critical?!

    Everything that you are writing about has been done or is being done or can be done by NetWare.

    But even all of that is a moot point since the powers that be have put Novell on the block to be sold of bit by bit in the name of “maximizing shareholder value”.

    SuSE for sale to VMWare….

    NetWare for sale to some company that will milk it for the rest of the lifespan then seal the source up never to be seen again.

    I wonder who they are going to sell GroupWise to?

    Novell used to be the best. It lost because the S&M people didn’t know how to sell a product the eclipsed everything out there.

    PLEASE Novell, we beg you, Open Source NetWare and all the associated things that go with it. The great masses that once looked to Utah and the Big Red Box will port ALL of it to a kernel like Linux and make it great once gain, since you seem to be incapable of doing so.

    • By:rsmiller510

      I know what you know as far as the rumors go. I’ve got no control over that and I’m not writing about that.

      If you are so convinced it’s not anything new, that’s great. Why are you against it then?

      I’m not sure I understand your arguments. If it’s a new way of doing the same stuff, what’s your point? How can you be against what you think you’re doing already?

      You’ve lost me.


  2. By:ecyoung

    This is funny seeing all these posts about cloud computing here at Novell, while elsewhere Novell is saying “The cloud is a delight for hackers.”

    • By:rsmiller510

      I’m not here to defend Novell, but they sell hardware and software to build a private cloud.

    • By:FlyingGuy

      is up to these days. If you believe the story in the WSJ then Novell no longer matters as they wont be around much longer. If you believe it then the Novell Board is caving into “share Holders” who are just money hungry.

      If they don’t like what Novell is doing then they should just sell their stock and go away.

      Either the Novell Board is up to some shenanigans or Crandal and or Hovsepian are looking for a golden parachute, either way it sucks.

      • By:rsmiller510

        I know this is a tempting discussion point given the current situation, but this isn’t really the place to talk about it. I write about cloud issues. If you want to discuss that, I’m game.