Labor CIO Advocates for a Cloud Practitioner Roadmap

Posted by Angie Petty on July 28, 2015

Cloud Storage Wars

Earlier this month at a NIST Cloud Computing Forum and Workshop, Department of Labor CIO, Dawn Leaf, cautioned agencies not to implement cloud for cloud’s sake. Leaf is promoting the idea of a cloud practitioner roadmap to assist agencies in moving to cloud platforms.

Prior to her role at Labor, Leaf lead NIST’s effort to write a cloud computing roadmap for the federal government. Although a number of resources exist to help agencies transition to the cloud, Leaf believes a guide to address “old paradigms in IT management, which take on new dimensions in the cloud environment" would be extremely valuable.

According to Leaf, there’s a right way and a wrong way to move to the cloud. Moving siloed legacy systems to a siloed cloud environment is not the answer or the intent of the Cloud First policy. Additionally, Leaf is seeing the impractical application of cloud models. Both of these issues could be addressed in a practitioner guide.

Agencies believe they are implementing Cloud First. "They say, 'Hey, we're moving to the cloud, we're following federal direction.' Well, moving outside to external services is great, [but] moving in 28 different contracts, in 28 different sets of overhead, with 28 different IT security authorizations, with 28 different dedicated network lines – this is not in the best interest of the taxpayer, I would argue, or the department," said Leaf.

Upfront work is necessary in most cases, especially with legacy systems, before moving to the cloud becomes practical and cost effective. "Most things are not ready to go to a cloud platform. They're not virtualized, for example, and in some cases they're running on old releases, old software platforms…,” said Leaf.

Another phenomena Leaf is witnessing is the impractical application of cloud models. At Department of Labor a private cloud doesn’t make sense, because they are fairly small in terms of IT resources, Leaf said. And Labor doesn’t have classified systems or those with high security impact.

"So, when I see a sub-agency, a bureau agency say, 'Look at us! We did a great job. We built a private cloud.' The first thing I think is, 'My God, what on earth did you do that for?'" said Leaf.

“Cloud first" should be the goal, said Leaf, but using the right cloud model and moving the right applications is the key.

Leaf did not indicate next steps in promoting or developing a practitioner roadmap.