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Moving FCC.gov into the cloud

October 20th, 2010 by Steven VanRoekel - Managing Director, Federal Communications Commission

To create lasting change in the dot gov atmosphere, its incumbent on us to build better websites on top of better architectures.

But too often, government agencies have struggled to keep pace with technological change at a fundamental level. Cloud computing environments haven’t been within government agencies’ grasp for very long. The reasons have been various -- many of them well-founded and focused on keeping our nation’s information, and our citizens, safe.

Thanks to clear vision and consistent execution from government leaders, agencies are increasingly empowered to leverage the benefits of cloud computing. Private sector innovation has moved at incredible speeds, and it’s encouraging to see federal agencies -- like the FCC -- moving towards cutting-edge architectures in order to deliver quality services quickly to the citizens that depend on them.

As we continue to reimagine how FCC.gov can deliver dot com levels of service, getting cloud environments in the door and ready for implementation has been a primary focus. By hosting our new site in the cloud, we’re equipping the developers and content creators in the Commission with leading-edge technology so we remain agile, responsive, and relevant to the consumers and industry groups that rely on FCC.gov.

We fully expect this move to pay dividends in the short and long terms. Starting now, we’re able to wield highly-flexible sandboxes for our teams to innovate without bounds. And in out years, we save considerable costs -- and mitigate impact to the environment -- by hosting the new FCC.gov in the cloud instead of potentially inefficient and wasteful datacenters.

Many critics -- across sectors -- have voiced concerns about the information security questions that are raised around cloud computing environments. Our team has fully abided by the FISMA standards throughout this process; at relaunch, FCC.gov will have met or exceeded both low and moderate levels of clearance, enabling us to distribute information, power collaboration, and innovate freely.

At the government-wide level, programs like FEDRAMP are moving the ball forward and helping agencies save time and money while procuring the environments that fit their needs. Just this week, GSA announced government-wide clearance for nearly a dozen Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) cloud providers to be provided via Apps.gov. The momentum behind this movement is growing.

As the FCC continues to fill out our role as an expert tech agency, I’d like to hear from folks that are working towards innovations like these every day -- both in the public and private sectors. Leave your comments below, or send me a message at @stevenvfcc on Twitter.

One Response to “Moving FCC.gov into the cloud”

  1. Brett Glass says:

    Methinks that this is an attempt to participate in a fad, and possibly to cater to corporate campaign donors (e.g. Google -- whose privacy invading user tracking scripts, disturbingly, appear on this FCC Web page) rather than a good idea.

    Cloud computing is appropriate when the owner or maintainer of a computing facility is peripatetic and/or must use "thin" clients. While the FCC's "Portals II" sometimes does feel like an alternate universe, it has not (to my knowledge) moved from its address on DC's 12th Street SW in quite some time. And for security reasons, it is appropriate for agency employees to use well encrypted VPNs, not cloud computing, if they telecommute. Finally, all firms which do cloud computing necessarily have an interest in business which is before the FCC, creating an irreparable conflict of interest.

    For all of these reasons, outsourcing and "cloud computing" are inappropriate technology for the FCC's Web site or internal operations.

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