Sunday, August 12, 2012

Texas Cloud Computing Lessons Learned

Late last week  the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) released an important whitepaper that reviewed it's multi-year Pilot Texas Cloud Offering (PTCO). This project was designed to allow a small group of agencies to choose a virtual private cloud-based infrastructure as a service from a marketplace of service providers made available by a cloud broker. For this project, Texas DIR selected Gravitant and it's cloudMatrix technology. Gravitant’s self-service web portal, Texas Cloud Self-Service Portal (TCSP), allowed participating agencies to manage and support all phases of the engagement from solutioning to provisioning, operations and capacity management, and decommissioning. Gravitant also provided extensive architecture and solution support. Gravitant, as the cloud broker, established, negotiated, and governed the reseller agreements with the individual cloud service providers. They maintained a catalog of services, line items, and prices associated with each provider, which enabled them to facilitate cloud provisioning across multiple providers—a key feature for government agencies.

This approach was selected as it maximized the opportunity to produce the broadest spectrum of experiences for customers. The cloudMatrix software helped to normalize the multiple services available, creating an “apples-to-apples” comparison in pricing and functionality as much as possible. In addition, this solution provided a single, unified web interface for end users to design, procure, provision, monitor, and govern the services. The PTCO allowed DIR and the pilot agencies to a gain a greater understanding of cloud infrastructure offerings for state government and document options and issues with provider selection, pricing, access security, data security, credentialing, provisioning time frames, service levels, service remedy options, terms of use, billing models, interoperability, mobility, scalability, capacity management, provider compliance, and monitoring and licensing.

As far as I know, the PTCO represents the only proven operational model of the cloud brokerage concept deployed within a government setting. Among the lessons learned, this project showed that the use of a cloud broker can:
  • Help government agencies screen their applications for cloud feasibility and prioritizing cloud migrations accordingly;
  • Address the challenges of cloud model comparisons due to the variables in product offerings, including the business models, service levels, and package inclusions;
  • Translate capacity requirements into provider line items, thus allowing for accurate estimation of cloud cost;
  • Provide a cloud service order review or approval workflow facility, a function not normally provided by cloud service providers; and
  • Provide a means to regulate payment across multiple government entities.

If you are interested in learning more about the results of this pilot project, download the complete report at

NJVC is partnering with Gravitant to bring this advance cloud brokerage technology to the federal marketplace.

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Kate Dunkin said...

Great post! I have been reading blog posts on cloud services all morning because I have heard so much about it lately on TV and online. I'm going to make sure to share this with my coworkers and friends who have also been talking about cloud services. Thank you for sharing this with us Keith!

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