7 predictions for FedRAMP

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program is gaining traction. The number of authorizations granted between 2016 and 2018 increased roughly 33% year over year, according to one of FedRAMP's third-party provider assessment organizations.

Agencies spent $6.5 billion in cloud services in FY2018, with software-as-a-service offerings making up more than 84% of the applications from cloud service providers (CSPs) working on FedRAMP authorizations, according to the FedRAMP Program Research and Analysis report that Coalfire released June 5. More than 1,100 authorities to operate (ATO) have been granted under the program since its launch in June 2012.

One of the drivers fueling the growing momentum is the FedRAMP Connect process that prioritizes CSP reviews by the Joint Authorization Board based on demand and other criteria. Additionally, a growing number of CSPs are working with agency sponsors on an ATO, and the FedRAMP Tailored program offers quicker authorizations for low-impact SaaS offerings.

Coalfire based its assessment on more than 500 applicable FedRAMP advisory and assessment projects it performed and on survey results from information security executives with FedRAMP experience. The company expects the rate of cloud authorizations to continue through 2019 – barring government shutdowns – with more than 150 new ATOs (a minority of which are expected to be unique) to be added to the FedRAMP marketplace.

Based on its experience with the program, Coalfire identified seven trends that will affect the government cloud security program over the next year.

  1. More ambitious migration initiatives. With the maturation of the FedRAMP high-control baseline and the administration's push for IT modernization, agencies will embark on more ambitious cloud migration initiatives targeting major applications and shared services.
  2. Fewer new authorizations for the Defense Department. Two massive cloud contracts -- the infrastructure-as-a-service Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative and the SaaS Defense Enterprise Office Solutions contracts expected in 2019 -- will reshape the cloud landscape for both DOD and other agencies exploring large, comprehensive contract vehicles of their own. This dampening effect may be offset by increased demand for classified cloud ATOs at impact level 6.
  3. FedRAMP reform. Coalfire expects to see legislation that ties FedRAMP and the Office of Management and Budget's cloud objectives to the Federal Information Security Management Act, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act and the Managing Government Technology Act.
  4. Alignment of agency requirements. Requirements and contract clauses will better align with the cloud security requirements used in the FedRAMP baseline and by specific agencies to reduce the number of conflicting requirements for  CSPs after an authorization but before services are procured.
  5. Cloud for IoT, mobility and productivity. As FedRAMP shifts focus from IaaS and PaaS authorizations to SaaS solutions, look for the program management office to prioritize SaaS solutions for federal internet-of-things, mobility and productivity initiatives.
  6. Continuous monitoring. Over the next 24 months, Coalfire expects FedRAMP's monitoring requirements to gradually move to the Department of Homeland Security's Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program standards.
  7. Focus on security automation. As cybersecurity automation toolsets and infrastructure matures, look for security automation to be built into CSP capabilities, especially those applying for high-baseline authorizations.

Coalfire's report, which is designed to help CSPs with the authorization process, also includes analysis of the federal cloud market landscape, resourcing and budgeting approaches and best practices for CSPs entering the FedRAMP ATO  process.

 Read the full report here.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at smiller@gcn.com or @sjaymiller.

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