recommended reading

Recovery board sends its website to the Amazon cloud

The independent office overseeing Recovery Act spending announced on Thursday that it has outsourced the backbone of Recovery.gov, the official stimulus-tracking website, to Amazon.com, marking the first governmentwide shift to cloud computing.

Recovery.gov publishes reports from federal agencies, as well as state and local funding recipients, on job creation and the progress of projects such as networks for exchanging electronic health records.

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board expects to save about $750,000 during the next two fiscal years as a result of moving to cloud computing.

Cloud computing refers to a process in which an agency or a company pays a third-party host for online access to hardware and software applications on a per-use basis. White House officials are pressing agencies to transition their IT systems to the cloud within the next decade to consolidate data centers, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase efficiencies by allowing employees to tap into the federal IT infrastructure remotely.

"It was the board's decision to get to the cloud," Earl Devaney, chairman of the board, told reporters during a call on Thursday.

Last summer board members selected a contractor to enhance what was at the time a rudimentary site with more features. They planned to eventually move Recovery.gov to the cloud. But officials were concerned about storing enormous amounts of spending data outside the board's internal computer networks while they were testing different formats for feeding information into dynamic maps and other interactive features. "I think it was prudent to go ahead and do it the old-fashioned way and then move to the cloud," Devaney said.

On April 26, Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) began provisioning data center services and computer equipment for Recovery.gov.

The board allotted Recovery.gov's prime contractor, Smartronix, a budget of up to $18 million to run the site. Smartronix chose Amazon as a subcontractor, Devaney said.

The savings from the arrangement will allow the board to focus other computing resources on rooting out fraud, waste and abuse in the economic stimulus program. Analysts working for the board have been probing databases to uncover suspicious spending patterns and previously undisclosed connections between contractors and other entities to flag areas that might warrant further investigation.

Recovery.gov "is the first governmentwide system that's moved to the cloud," federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra said during the call. "This shift demonstrates a commitment to cloud computing as we scale in the coming months and years."

NASA and a number of other federal groups have been testing Amazon's cloud services, he added.

Some federal agencies and security specialists say the cloud is not yet mature enough to provide robust information protection. Kundra said Recovery.gov was an ideal cloud experiment for the government because it does not house information that is sensitive or vital to national security. "It makes sense from a security and privacy perspective," he said.

Threatwatch Alert

User accounts compromised

1 Million Online Gaming Accounts Exposed

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.