8 - 9 March 2016

Brussels, Belgium

30/03/2015

Cloudscape Keynote: Dawn Leaf, CIO Department of Labor, U.S.

Dawn Leaft, DOL
The Cloudscape annual workshop series has drawn attention to the U.S’s “Cloud First” Strategy since the very beginning, inviting U.S. experts to share best practices. To keep abreast of the latest developments, we invited Dawn Leaf, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of Labor to offer insights into actual migration to cloud services, gauge the extent to which expectations have been met, and understand the benefits of a stepwise approach. 
 
The Department of Labor's 28 Agencies and Programs perform mission critical work across the United States, affecting 125 million workers and 10 million businesses. The framework of the National Institute of Technology and Standards (NIST), which identifies ten key requirements, served as a reference document. Gathering requirements for the public sector took place through a partnership between government, academia and industry. 

User-driven migration to cloud services
A first important practical step was asking the 19,000 federal and field offices about their expectations of cloud benefits and which cloud-based service they needed the most. Expected benefits ranged from on-demand self-service, broad network access, elasticity to co-tenancy cost advantages and the move to a utility model. 
 
What service did they want the most? Email. Why? Because federal staff were spending about 2-hours a week cleaning their mail boxes. Moreover, all agencies wanted the same thing: doing a job anywhere, anytime. 
A quadruple increase in storage and collaboration facilities has led to significant cost avoidance. Benefits were as expected with more capability for the same mail box. Implementation went smoothly with just 2% failure rate. Most importantly, federal staff couldn’t actually see that they were migrating to the cloud and minimum training, typically a migration guide, was required.

Challenges 
But there were also a number of challenges, such as getting the DOL ready for the email. Chief among these were the incompatible and non-standard network infrastructures, causing an operational readiness test delay, as well as the need for a DOL-wide bandwidth upgrade and agency desktop readiness. 
Migration confirms several challenges identified in the Roadmap:
  • Clearly defined services and SLAs: roles and responsibilities for the customer, especially the integrator and service provider, correcting also error codes. 
  • Interoperability – not just with cloud services.
  • Requirements specific to government: security and 508 disability access.
  • Organisation policy: primarily record keeping & security.
New services in the pipeline
Successful implementation is now leading to new plans for the deployment of Digital Government Integrated Platform (DGIP). The aim is to build an integrated DOL Digital Government platform that can be used by agencies to build and deploy applications that support the federal digital government goals related to sharing data and mobile computing for public interactions. This will be a hybrid cloud environment with multiple providers, solving migration issues once only and supporting all the agencies concerned. 
 
The initiative emerged through an agency analysis of the FY 2015 IT budget requests (based on 2013 figures). Nearly all agencies proposed common IT capabilities to support digital government data sharing & mobile computing. The cost of proposed individual agency efforts were significantly greater than the estimated cost of the centralised DGIP proposal. The “platform” is not a monolithic internal centralised platform and infrastructure but rather a set of integrated enterprise services (shared, in-sourced/outsourced, cloud/non-cloud). It is expected that the interoperability and performance “roadmap” requirements will be a greater factor compared with the deployment of email cloud services. 
 
This new federal service is expected to bring several important benefits. Firstly, it positions DOL to achieve its goal of transforming into a 21st Century organisation by making these capabilities available to all DOL agencies, large and small. Secondly, it allows DOL to achieve cost efficiencies through enterprise services and reduces IT costs for individual agencies by solving integration requirements one time (major IT cost driver). Thirdly, it enables DOL to better leverage human resources through use of consistent IT services. 
 
The experiences of the DOL show that policy needs to keep up with technology with the cloud putting the issues more in the spotlight. The DOL examples require a moderate level of security based on the data definitions of the U.S. government. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is out of the question, not because of security can be ensured through encrypted devices, but because of wilful data disclosure. 
 

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