recommended reading

NIST releases cloud computing roadmap

The government should establish common cloud computing products and services standards so agencies can easily shift their business to a new provider if their current vendor isn't meeting their needs, a government technology reviewer said Tuesday.

Without those standards, agencies may invest in major cloud programs that are quickly made obsolete by a superior competitor, according to the draft Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap from the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Agencies also might get locked into overpriced services because of high switching costs, the NIST document said.

Most agencies are able to change cloud providers, the report said, but not without an intervening step during which data is moved into noncloud storage.

The government is in the early stages of a massive program to move roughly one-fourth of its $80 billion annual information technology budget to computer cloud storage.

Computer clouds are essentially large banks of servers that pack together data more efficiently than in-house servers. Users that store their data in computer clouds can access it from any device because it's not tied to a physical office and they pay for cloud storage space like a utility, spending only for the space they actually use.

In addition, the government should come up with a more complete list of security requirements that address cloud computing's unique dangers, the NIST document said, such as the large scale of cloud storage and the likelihood that many clouds that federal agencies use also will store data from other departments or mix data from both the public and private sectors.

"Cloud computing is still in an early deployment stage and standards are crucial to increased adoption," the roadmap said.

The Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration are working on a governmentwide security certification for cloud services known as FedRAMP, which is due out in the next few months.

The roadmap also advocated creating better standard service agreements between cloud providers and government customers, drawing up consistent definitions of cloud services, and developing frameworks for cloud sharing between federal agencies.

NIST described the first draft of the roadmap as intentionally broad, with many requirements identified that are "intuitive and common for the adoption of any emerging technology." The document was drawn up following a series of public workshops, working groups and meetings with different agencies.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

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

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


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