Earnest efforts are underway to modernize government information technology for lower costs and tougher cybersecurity armoring. The Central Intelligence Agency and others have made their preference for public cloud known, striking envy in old-guard, on-premises infrastructure companies.
“Over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of interest by federal organizations to shift from what is traditionally a capital expense model to an operational expense model,” said Shannon Kellogg (pictured), director of public policy at Amazon Web Services Inc.
This naturally attracts them to commercial clouds offering pay-as-you-go pricing, which saves them huge upfront investments in building private clouds. Recent White House initiatives seeking to modernize public-sector IT that favor cloud add thrust to the trend. But legacy companies are not going to lose generous government contracts to younger cloud providers without a battle.
Kellogg spoke with John Furrier (@furrier), host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, at the AWS public sector headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. They discussed why the government believes cloud can make operations more agile and secure.
Cloud answers cybersecurity wake-up call
The veritable cyber warfare raging on the security front has shaken the government awake to the need to upgrade its IT. Novel threats — from malware, ransomware, nation states, sponsored states, etc. — are scaring the public and private sectors alike. Last December, President Trump signed the Modernizing Government Technology Act into law as part of the Defense Authorization Act for 2018. The purpose of the act is to help government agencies in their endeavors to modernize; it focuses largely on shuttling them from legacy IT systems to the cloud.
Why? The price efficiencies of cloud are fairly obvious. But an equally important reason is that it will improve the federal government’s security posture among the swarm of new threats, according to Kellogg. In fact, a recent cybersecurity executive order basically stated that to bring security up to snuff, cloud is indispensable.
“It made very clear that there’s very little possibility to actually improve the security of federal systems without moving forward with the IT modernization efforts and moving to the cloud,” Kellogg said.
Cloud is not just a final destination for government agencies; some see it as the most efficient starting point to set up new technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning for greater security. The Department of Defense just completed a $950 million deal to procure REAN Cloud LLC’s services for its IT operations.
“They’re seeing technology not as the end result but as a way to enable a lot of these developments and changes,” Kellogg stated.
Who doesn’t like the cheaper, better-secured cloud in our public agencies? Legacy IT vendors, that’s who. “There’s a lot of effort out there to pursue the status quo, to continue to keep the lights on,” Kellogg said. In fact, keeping the lights on — or maintaining legacysystems — swallows 80 percent of the federal IT budget, Kellogg pointed out.
The old-guard companies are reaping the profits. “And you know what? The tax payer can’t afford that anymore; the mission owners can’t afford that any more. And so it’s really time to move forward,” he concluded.
Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s CUBE Conversations at the AWS public sector headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
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