EPA contracts support aggressive move to cloud computing

While some agencies struggle with lingering concerns about cloud security, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving ahead full-blast with implementing the Obama administration’s Cloud First Initiative. EPA plans to have up to 80 percent of its computing environment in the cloud by 2015.

As part of that plan, EPA awarded CGI Federal Inc. a three-year, $15 million contract to help move its applications to the cloud by providing server hosting, virtualization and other services as the agency stands up a hybrid cloud environment at its National Computing Center in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

The EPA is planning to move up to 20 percent of its IT environment to the cloud within the first year, and 30 percent in each of the succeeding two years.

Agency IT managers overseeing cloud projects might want to check a recent Gartner report prepared for Hewlett Packard Co. that examines steps that could be taken immediately to optimize data centers for cloud computing.

According to the report, cumulative digital archive capacity is growing exponentially, making traditional data centers an ineffective tool for productivity and growth. It found that by 2013, downloads of mobile apps are expected to surpass 21.6 billion, and by 2014, 130 million enterprise users will work in a mobile cloud.

Gartner's report recommends bolstering security through “an integrated security approach as opposed to the bolt-on security implementations of the past."

Besides adopting  standard security practices, including memory storage upon exit and making sure sensitive data is not packaged in virtual machine images, agencies should enforce strong identity management and role separation, according to Gartner.

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