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5 ways the cloud gets disruptive in 2013

The intersection of cloud infrastructures with disruptive technologies such as big data, analytics and mobility will inform the IT trends that are sure to impact federal, state and local government agencies in 2013.

Two years after the initiation of the federal government’s cloud-first policy, agencies have embraced cloud computing as an economical and more efficient way to run and operate commodity IT services and public-facing websites.  Now, agencies are discovering there are many flavors of the cloud — private, public, community — and are looking for ways to manage multiple clouds. Some will turn to cloud brokerages to help them take advantage of multiple cloud providers at the same time; others will become internal cloud brokers for their agencies and external agencies. 
Integration appears to be the operative word for the cloud in 2013. Here are five things to look for.

Big data and cloud converge

Integrated platforms for big data, cloud and shared services will start to emerge. Cloud computing offers an on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable resources; big data explores large and complex pools of information. Government analysts are looking to derive more value out of the vast amounts of information collected by agencies by making better use of business intelligence and advanced analytics. Government, industry and the academic communities will work closely to understand the security, storage, and standards-related implications of this convergence. For instance, The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s first major summit of 2013 will focus on cloud and big data.

Integrated analytic and storage systems

Look for more integrated systems combining advanced analytics and data storage in a cloud infrastructure. Agencies need tools for storage management, but also need applications that can consume, combine and analyze unstructured and structured data. Agencies typically would have to buy the storage technology and the analytics tools and try to piece them together.  Several systems geared for the geospatial and intelligence communities will hit the market this year.

The dawn of the age of cloud brokers

The concept of brokerage services — those that let organizations choose cloud providers by the job and change providers on the fly depending on prices or services — has gained momentum in government, and GSA has called for industry to submit information on cloud brokerage services. The need to use multiple cloud service providers to manage multiple functions will spur fast adoption of the cloud services brokerage model — either via a new internal role or external source, said Kevin Jackson, vice president and general manager of cloud services at NJVC.  Some organizations such as the Energy Department, NASA and the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board are already becoming brokers, developing internal cloud hubs to connect a wide range of federal users and partner organizations to a federated marketplace of cloud service providers.

Mobile workforce in the cloud

Many federal, state and local agencies will step up efforts to give their employees anytime, anywhere access to resources from any device. To do that involves, in many cases, the use of some sort of cloud infrastructure. For instance, the Agriculture Department is looking for a next-generation mobility system to manage government-furnished and employee-owned devices. The system will have to integrate with Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud-based messaging systems, which USDA migrated 120,000 employees to in September 2011. Another smaller, but innovative agency such as the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board has built a cloud hub that lets the organization manage cloud services from multiple providers. The hub architecture lets administrators lock down mobile devices accessing the network and supports bring–your-own-device services.

Platform as a Service comes of age

The cloud computing arena has been dominated by large e-mail and infrastructure providers selling commodity services.  However, non-commodity custom software is beginning to move to the cloud in a meaningful manner, according to Cary Landis, senior architect with NJVC. PaaS provides developers with easier ways to create and deploy software on cloud infrastructures. “As of this year, PaaS and other cloud technologies have reached a maturity level that allows developers and integrators to build highly customized, complex offerings in the cloud," Landis said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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