4-themed approach to cloud adoption

If your CEO is showing signs of wanting to adopt cloud computing technologies than a quick flick through a new report semi-commissioned by the Federal Chief Information Officer and the U.S. Department of Commerce will provide some invaluable information.

The Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in U.S. Deployment of the Cloud (CLOUD2), is a collection of 71 – I know, why 71! – industry executives which has had its nose to the grindstone for some months and has published its list of recommendations for the adoption of cloud based technologies.

Although the report was prepared with government organisations in mind, the underlying philosophy can be hijacked by commercial organisations. Considering 71 companies were involved in the overall creation of the report it is remarkably cohesive and well thought out with some meaty recommendations that you can implement.

The report states: “Moving to cloud computing is a change that involves people, policies, processes, and technology. The Commission identified barriers that have kept some government agencies from moving to the cloud and recommended actionable solutions to overcome these. In addition, the Commission identified barriers to commercial deployment of cloud services and recommended actions to eliminate them.

Since government, industry and academia share the responsibility to accelerate adoption and drive U.S. innovation and leadership, the recommendations reflect actions for all three key stakeholders. Industry, as represented by the commission members, is committed to enabling the transition to the cloud by companies and government agencies and accepts the responsibility for taking actions that enable cloud adoption.”

The commission has provided 14 recommendations concentrated around four themes:

Trust

Users of cloud computing want assurance that when using cloud services, that their workloads and data will be treated with the highest integrity and their security, privacy, and availability needs will be met.

To enable trust and confidence in cloud services, the Commission recommends that government and industry develop common frameworks, best practices and metrics around security and information assurance to assist users in choosing and deploying the security level most appropriate for their workloads. The Commission also recommendsstrengthening the identity management ecosystem and data breach laws, as well as supporting increased research on cloud computing as an investment in future cloud innovation.

Transnational Data Flows

In a global economy, it is common for businesses to operate in multiple countries and for cloud providers and users to work and transfer information across national borders. This adds complexity to cloud adoption because of the data, processes, and people residing on multiple continents with different laws and cultures.

In this context, the Commission recommends that industry and the U.S. government promote privacy frameworks, that the U.S. government identify and implement mechanisms to clarify processes and mechanisms around lawful government access to data, and that the U.S. continue international discussions in these areas. It also recommends that the U.S. government lead by example by demonstrating its willingness to trust cloud computing environments in other countries for appropriate government workloads.

Transparency

Users want an abundance of information about the cloud services they buy and unfettered access to the data and processes they entrust to the service provider. To meet these needs, cloud providers must be open and transparent regarding the characteristics and operations of the services they provide. Government and industry should collaboratively develop metrics that facilitate this information sharing and customers’ ability to compare cloud offerings.

Additionally, to ensure that data is available to customers should they wish to change cloud services, cloud providers should enable portability through industry standards and best practices.

Transformation

The transition to cloud computing is placing new requirements on purchasing processes, infrastructure, and people’s skills. For government agencies, the fact that buying cloud computing services can be fundamentally different from buying in-house IT systems poses a challenge. Therefore, agencies, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Congress must demonstrate more flexibility around budgeting and acquisition processes.

Such flexibility, in combination with OMB incentives for moving to the cloud, will increase the rate of adoption by government agencies. Additionally, to accommodate the bandwidth and reliable connectivity necessary for the growth of cloud computing, the nation’s currently stretched and aging IT broadband infrastructure should be updated, in conjunction with embracing IPv6. To help acquisition and IT personnel understand and carry out the transition to cloud, government agencies, companies, and academia should develop and disseminate appropriate educational resources.

The complete summary can be read here.

Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications professional who has worked for some of the leading blue chip companies in the UK and Europe. In the 1990s he became interested in how emerging Internet-based technologies could change the way that people worked and became an administrator on the Telework Europa Forum on CompuServe. With other colleagues he took part in a four year European Commission sponsored project to look at the way that the Internet could benefit remote communities. His blog is a resource for SMEs who want to use cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies.