Focus on compute, not cloud, says GSA official

Agencies have to put data center and cloud optimization plans together to come to cohesive solution for computing, said agency and industry experts.

business processes in the cloud

Simply closing data centers and shipping their operations to the cloud isn't enough for federal agencies, said one of the General Services Administration's top cloud advisors.

"Federal agencies should focus on compute, instead of just closing data centers" under the federal government's Cloud Smart initiative, said Steve Naumann, senior advisor, data center practitioner, in the GSA's Office of Government-wide Policy's Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI).

Naumann, who helped craft the DCOI and the Cloud Smart policy, said he came to GSA to help spread the word on that message.

In remarks at a Red Hat federal technology summit on Nov. 12, Naumann said the notion of simply closing data centers for the sake of closing data centers didn't make any sense for transforming agencies' operations.

Cloud in all of its forms, is also a big part of that transformation, he said. Agencies have to take a broader view that takes in both.

"What I've seen" in working with executive branch and other agencies, said Naumann, "is that everyone is at different phases" of cloud adoption and data center optimization. "The key to this is to just start doing it. You're always going to be in a chicken and egg scenario, but what we try to get people to do is focus on the compute to reduce costs, or business resiliency or service delivery."

Susie Adams, federal CTO at Microsoft, said agencies are almost all operating in hybrid public and private cloud environments, as they find moving to the cloud completely is very difficult.

"We see a hybrid world for all agencies," said Adams. "I don't think in my lifetime we'll move away from hybrid." All federal agencies are currently operating in a hybrid cloud world, she said, because they have legacy data that needs to be supported and don't have the budgets to move everything to the cloud.

Adams said that is not an unusual thing even for commercial companies. "Microsoft is hybrid," she said, since it has had to support some legacy applications even after it undertook an applications rationalization process 10 years ago. Moving to the cloud can take time, she said.