Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lessons Learned: VA Cloud Email Termination

According to a Federal Computer Week article by Frank Konkel, The Department of Veterans Affairs terminated its five-year, $36 million cloud computing contract for email and calendaring services with HP Enterprise Services. Citing a material change in the agency's requirements, VA officials declined to elaborate on the requirement changes that were actually made. Although I have no personal connection or first hand knowledge of the specifics of this deployment, this failure was apparently caused by failure to first build and understand the business case for supporting the cloud transition.

 "In November -- after the agency announced its cloud deal with HP Enterprise Services – VA's Deputy CIO for Architecture, Strategy and Design, Paul Tibbits, told an audience at 1105 Media's Enterprise Architecture Conference that he questioned the cost-effectiveness of moving to the cloud.

Tibbits was not discussing this project in particular, but rather stressing the broader need for real use cases and hard-nosed business assessments. "It is not 100 percent clear that expenses go down if we jump into the cloud," he said. "The revenue stream is up there in neon lights, we have got to figure out if that is going to save us money or not."

Cloud computing is not about technology. It is primarily a change in the delivery and consumption of information technology services which can radically change an organizations business model. As highlighted in many expert guides, including my book "GovCloud: Cloud Computing for the Business of Government", the first step in any cloud transition strategy should be the identification, development and commitment to the cloud computing business model.

I also believe that there were at least two other contributing factors to this unfortunate action:
  • Failure to first establish and specify infrastructure security requirements for the software-as-a-service offering. Although FedRAMP is not mandatory until 2014, it provides an efficient and repeatable methodology for establishing a common cloud computing security baseline for all federal agencies
  • Failure to adequately address cultural and change management challenges associated with the cloud computing business model.  If the new business model wasn't firmly understood and communicated throughout the organization with a focused change management process, success would be very difficult to achieve.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Deconstructing Cloud: An Excellent Guide to the Cloud Computing World

On an almost daily basis, I'm approach for my views on "cloud computing technology".  Although typically innocent in nature, I always cringe at the thought of enduring yet another hours long discussion over the existence of a "cloud computing business model". With this in mind, you can understand the joy I experienced when I read an advance copy of "Deconstructing Cloud" by Andrea Bilobrk. This soon to be released work artfully balances both the technical and business aspects of cloud computing in an easy to read tutorial.

Writing from a knowledgeable viewpoint as a blogger at, Andrea minimizes the normally steep learning curve of applying this new approach for provisioning and consuming information technology. She skillfully  uses humor and easily understood anecdotes to illustrate how businesses can really gain true value.

"This book was written for one purpose.  Much like the old Tinder Stratus blog, this book was written to deliver as much information as possible about cloud, so we can minimize the huge learning curve.  Let’s face it; no one has time to read a stack of books and articles on cloud just to gather little bits of information from each.  Instead we need a comprehensive guide to all the key issues, a guide that organizations can use to quickly get up to speed on cloud so they can start adopting these amazing new business processes.  The only way to do this is by covering both the positive and negative aspects of cloud in a way that our leaders can understand.  That is why this book exists."

Andrea, you hit the mark with this one!

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

NJVC Platform as a Service to Include Google Geospatial Services for NCOIC Geospatial Community Cloud Project in Support of Disaster Relief Efforts

CHANTILLY, Va., July 9, 2013 — NJVC® was selected by Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC) to provide the platform as a service (PaaS) element of a cloud-computing-based humanitarian assistance and disaster response data exchange demonstration.
A combined technology solution, known as GeoCloud, will provide trusted connectivity between multiple independent vendor cloud services through the use of this open platform. GeoCloud also will create a virtual organization of response teams so members can easily access critical geospatial data in support of their intertwined missions on a pick-and-choose basis and consume that data on demand.
NJVC will leverage the CloudcuityAppDeployer application PaaS to integrate various apps to support the needs of a diverse population of international disaster first responders (e.g., law enforcement, fire response, disaster medical response) into a common complex humanitarian disaster (CHD) management operating environment. In this implementation, the AppDeployer PaaS extends and complements the Google Maps Engine development PaaS platform.
Google will provide massively scalable, critical geospatial data and mapping services to the demonstration participants. The cloud-based Google Maps Engine product lets users create, share, publish and view (via a browser or Google Earth client) purpose-built maps to address key CHD mission requirements. When needed, Google Earth Server will provide an offline geospatial visualization capability on laptops, tablets and smartphones. These technologies will provide participants the ability to use one of the most familiar technologies in the world, with the same user experience as Google Earth and Google Maps, to easily exchange geospatial information and data within near-real-time operational constraints.

This activity supports cycle two of the geospatial community cloud concept (GCCC) demonstration in support of future disaster relief efforts, and will be conducted on behalf of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). “Through the cohesive PaaS solution to be delivered by NJVC, first responders will have access to the cloud services that they need—whenever and wherever they need them—and all disaster response activities will be managed from one secure interface,” said Kevin L. Jackson, vice president and general manager, NJVC cloud services. “GeoCloud is the glue to bond disparate apps into one powerful virtual community for first responders. NJVC is thrilled that Google’s technologies will provide the geospatial data backbone for the platform for cycle two of this historic community cloud demonstration.”
“Google is excited about the capabilities this new approach could deliver to first responders worldwide," said Phil Dixon, IC manager, Google. "We look forward to working with NCOIC and NGA to make this possibility a reality."

GCCC cycle two will showcase the delivery of basic geospatial PaaS capabilities within the context of a real CHD situation: the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Cycle two began in early June, and will be a 90-day project.


About NJVC

NJVC provides customers with innovative solutions to critical mission, business and technology challenges. As a proven systems integrator for more than a decade, NJVC offers a wide breadth of IT and strategic solutions to clients focusing on IT automation and services integration, real-time predictive analytics, secure cloud services, managed security services and printing solutions. NJVC provides services to both government and commercial customers whose operations depend on high performance, agility and advanced security. We partner with our clients to support their missions with security-cleared, dedicated and talented employees ready to deploy globally. To learn more, visit
Google, Google Maps Engine, Google Maps & Google Earth are registered trademarks of Google Inc.


Michelle Snyder, NJVC, 703.893.7609,
Audra Capas, 5StarPR, 703.437.9301,

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