Impact of Cloud Computing on Federal Government
The exposure of cloud computing is being increased day by day. Each and every organization, whether it’s online or offline, is trying to induce the effective cloud computing due to countless number of reasons and benefits. The federal government of US is has also planned to incorporate the cloud computing services due to number of benefit such as the reduction of costs, relief to taxpayers, robustness, reliability etc. The first part of this paper talks about the term of cloud computing as it defines it through various perspectives. The second part of this paper talks about the architectures of cloud computing which have been developed and being utilized with the real world and further talks about these architectures briefly. The next part of this paper highlights the needs of federal government which urge for the development and deployment of cloud computing infrastructure. The upcoming part reflects the impacts of cloud computing on federal government along with the issues, risks and benefits after the implication. The next part talks about the models which have been developed for cloud computing and are being utilized by the federal government. The upcoming part of this paper talks about the issues and risks which are being faced by the government due to the implementation of cloud computing models. The upcoming parts talk about the accumulative advantages and disadvantages.
Cloud computing is becoming more widespread in the IT industry. In fact, the demand for cloud computing services over the past few years has seen an enormous surge of investment in infrastructure and gained a reputation as a model with broad use. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST), cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. From an economic standpoint, cloud computing implementation benefits the federal government in several ways by: connecting its constituents more rapidly and efficiently, streamlining services and requests, making service more reliable, and providing significant expenditure savings.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing can be referred as an internet metaphor, the interconnected computers over internet in a diagram represents a cloud which further represents a network. In cloud computing the files are stored over the servers as they host these files and form a cloud by making those file available to countless servers and computers which are accessible over internet in web browser instead of desktop. (Miller, 2008, Ch. 1) The cloud computing makes the access to specific data effortless as the cloud formed by the hosted servers enables the user to access the file anywhere on any computer with the facility of internet as it just requires a web browser for this purpose.The cloud computing also enabled the users to work in collaboration in form of groups such as the group’s members can easily access the documents and programs without the barriers of location. The current technological situation has enabled every user to get involved in cloud computing for both the commercial and domestic purposes. There are countless programs which being utilized by individuals over internet without consent that they are using cloud computing, these applications consists Apple Mobile Me and Google calendar which are solely based over web. Apart from this, there are many online platforms which are offering the hosting and sharing facilities such website contribute to cloud computing. Picasa Web Album and Flicker are also an example of cloud computing where snaps are shared over the cloud and can be accessed anywhere in the world. One of the main reason for the implementation of cloud computing is that it offers faster, cost effective and flexible amalgam of technologies and involves various tools for its achievement. Cloud computing can be referred as a transformed model of computing where the operations and computation are carried out over the data somewhere on cloud. (Gillam, 2010 p. 3) The cloud can be referred as a center for data collection by third party. Cloud computing is referred to systems software, hardware which further include the applications which perform their services on internet. The cloud with the paid facilities for public is called public cloud.
Architecture of Cloud Computing
The architecture of cloud computing consist of specific design which is further based on software application, these application utilize on demand services and internet access (Gillam, 2010, p. 24) The architecture of cloud is an infrastructure which utilized its resources when they are asked to perform specific jobs, when the job is completed, these resources are relinquished after disposal. This architecture has enabled the cloud services to be utilized anywhere in the world using one cloud access point. The cloud services consist of platform, infrastructure and applications. The services which are provided by cloud work under real time environment over internet.
Software as Service (SaaS)
Software as a service or SaaS platform works concurrently; these services use the single instances to support both the application and the object code along with the interaction with the database. This service deals with the number of concurrent client connections in real time environment by using the shared resources. SaaS uses Application Service Provider models. The service providers using models are NetSuit, SalesForce.com, Microsoft and IBM etc.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
This service is meant for developers as it enables the developers to work on a platform for the provision cloud services by development, deployment, testing, and implementation of web based applications services. Through this, it has become very easy for developers to craft the applications for business purposes to be utilized over internet. The very reason behind the invention of PaaS system was to solve the problem of creation and maintenance of infrastructure so reduce the time consumptions. There are many key examples of PaaS which include Microsoft’s Azure, Google AppEngine and Heroku etc. PaaS provides the swift development of services and tools as compared to the traditional methods in quick manner.
Hardware as a Service (HaaS)
This service model has been developed for enterprise solutions as it allows the consumers to acquire the hardware license in direct manner. It allows the pay as you subscriptions services to cope with the needs of data centers. The entrepreneurs mostly lean towards this model as it alleviates the need of management and building of data centers.
Infrastructure as services is also referred as IaaS, the computer infrastructure with this approach is utilized as service. It not only provides the flexibility but also provides the intelligent usage based scheme of payment such as the consumers only pay when they grow. This also gives the satisfaction to consumers that they are utilizing up to date technology. The consumers can easily acquire the swift delivery time with this type of services. There are various companies which are based on infrastructure as service include Flexiscale, GoGrid, AppNexeus, Layered Technologies, Mosso, Joyent and Rackspace etc. The cloud modes further consists of further 3 parts which are private cloud, Public Cloud and Hybrid Cloud.
Virtualization is referred as a technology which couples the abstraction of operating system and hardware. The physical resources are abstracted with logical resources to reduce cost reduction, enhancement of flexibility, agility which in return enhances business values. In cloud computing, there are different types virtualizations such as storage, network, server virtualizations. The server virtualization can be referred as multiple logical partition or representation of single physical resources. The virtualized environment enables to shrunk, expand, move or create the computing environment dynamically accordingly to the underlying demands. This is the very reason due which the virtualization is incorporated into the infrastructure of dynamic cloud as it offers significant advantages regarding isolation, sharing and manageability. There exist numerous solutions which are introduced in market for the management of various solutions such as VMWare, VirtualBox, XEN, KVM and MVMM etc.
Need of Cloud Computing and Federal Government
The US Federal Government has intended to save billions by incorporating the new technology of cloud computing to information systems. The new system development was initiated by the US federal government in order to save billions under the expanses of government operation along with the impact reduction over data centers operating under government. The very reason behind this initiative is to get rid of business regarding data centers. Currently the US federal government is running approximately 1100 data centers. (Stair, Reynolds, 2011, p. 512) For this purpose, the government is intending to outsource the data centers to the cloud operators under SaaS infrastructure which would also be responsible for the consolidation of remaining confidential and sensitive data storing operations with the new cloud computing technology of virtualization. Through this process, the accomplishment will require very less number of servers. The government would be able to reduce greenhouse gases emission along with the reducing in spending by reducing the data centers to 90%.
The very first step for the implementation of clouding computing taken by the federal government was the introduction of an application store for the federal agencies. This application store www.apps.gov provided the links of essential business applications such as social media, productivity applications. These services are currently being provided by the PaaS, SaaS and IaaS vendors. These data centers are incorporated with the securities and service policies vetted by the government. These cloud services can enable the federal agencies to adopt and discover the services of cloud computing from this website for the development of their own system projects. A website www.infor.apps.gov has been introduced by General Services Administration (GSA) which has depicted the helping material which is responsible for the understanding development amongst agencies regarding the pros and cons related to cloud computing along with the discovery of useful applications. It is presumed that with the implication of cloud computing, the agencies would be able to save and reap the benefits of clouding computing by shifting their data from government data centers to cloud services. The data center project of government is being referred as the largest consolidation project by federal government. It depicts the trend of transformation of data from private and small data centers to big data centers such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and many other vendors which are providing cloud computing services abiding by the government compliance and regulations.
Impact of Cloud Computer on Federal Government
According to analysts, the current economic situation and has badly impacted the financial situation of government and to minimize this stress, it is being urged to adopt the cloud computing first at government sector. It is fact that the new technology of cloud computing provides the financial rebates along with the lower energy consumption and higher utilization for the provision of availability of applications. Due to the availability of countless benefits of cloud computing, many organizations are eagerly willing to adopt this technology with intention to face the challenges related with it. Due to the tight budgets of governments, it has become mandatory to adopt the new technology of cloud computing as it is very cost effective methods of inducing new technologies into government. It is presumed that the shifting of government information systems to cloud computing would significantly aid the government for server management and also emphasize the critical technology in government agencies. The cloud computing technology enables the organizations to focus over the core business technologies. The impact of cloud computing, under the context of budget, is really eye opening on US federal government information systems.
The analyst firm from public sector has estimated that the investment by the federal government in IT sector would significantly increase at the annual rate of 3.5% which would further reach to $90 billion in 2014. Besides this, it is estimated that the growth with the implementation and deployment of cloud computing will boost the growth and it would be estimated 30% annually under the same time frame. The analyst firm further revealed that the investment by federal government over cloud computing services will be triple in upcoming five years. (Sobh, 2010, p. 8) This calculation has given an estimation that the federal government would need to invest approximately 1 billion for services offered by cloud computing. The market analyst has depicted that the cloud computing portrays the basic reconsideration of investment in IT sector. Furthermore, 40% compound annual growth rate has been depicted by market analysis for federal sector spending for cloud computing.
Current Cloud Computing Models in Federal Government
Computing clouds are based on deployment models and services (Sosinsky, 2011, p. 5). The deployment models refer to the management and location of infrastructure of cloud while the services models enable the provision of various services over the platform of cloud computing.
The major customer of computer resources is United States government and hence included in the significant users of cloud computing environments. The national institute of standards and technology (NIST) has defined the definition of working which further distinguish the deployment and services models of cloud computing. The model developed by the NIST did not ask for pool of virtual resources neither it falls under the definition of multi-tenancy. According to the latest definition of cloud computing by NIST, it is stated that the cloud computing networks support both the multi-tenancy and virtualization at the same time. The cloud computing is being renovated to architectures which are based on services and it is expected that the NIST may include those features in future in its model as well.
The Cloud Cube Model
The cloud cube model is maintained by an open group which is named as Jericho forum, the main focus of this group the security concerns of cloud computing networks. The interesting model invented by this groups categorizes the network into four dimensions which are physical location of the data, ownership, security boundary and sourcing.
A deployment model mainly defines the core purpose for the creation of a cloud along with its nature and location. There are four deployment models which are further defined by NIST which are public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud and community cloud. The infrastructure of public cloud is openly available to public usage and is run by the cloud service selling organizations. The private cloud infrastructure refers to the cloud being utilized for specific organization of government agency. The private clouds are operated, managed and maintained by third party or organization itself. The hybrid cloud consists of all public, private and community clouds as a single unit with boundaries between them. A community cloud is referred as a cloud where it serves or performs the common purpose or function.
The deployment models refer to the deployment of infra structure, since the cloud services provided by the different vendors have some addition of subtraction of additional services. For this type of services, service models are defined. The service models are defined as something as a service such as infrastructure as service (IaaS), platform as service (PaaS) and software as service (SaaS) which already defined above in this paper.
Issues Regarding Implementation and Deployment of Cloud Computing to Federal Government
Cloud computing paves both the negative and positive impacts such as the security of information can be increased or decreased in federal agency systems. The vigorous security benefits incorporate the latest technology named virtualization for faster development of security patches such as the scalability of economics which includes the cost reduction from threats. (Wilshusen, 2010, p.2) The risk is based over the assurance provided by the vendor and dependency upon the security measures as well. Furthermore it is also concerned with the computer resources sharing. The intensity of the risk may also be found varying as it also depends upon the deployment model. The implementation of private clouds into the federal government also bears the risks of low intensity. However, to address the security issues, a thorough examination is mandatory regarding the security controls before the implementation of cloud computing at place. Federal government is giving its hectic efforts to address the security issues related information systems for cloud computing. The very reason which preventing these efforts is lack of guidance due which all efforts have become vague and incomplete. Many federal government agencies have incorporated specific security measures according to their needs but there is not generic guidance has been developed. For instance, there are nearly nine federal government agencies which have undergone the agreement of cloud computing with vendors having the approved procedures and policies. Many federal agencies have also pointed out the issues and challenges which are being faced by already defined security guidance along with the implementation process. It also includes the concerns regarding the compliance of cloud computing service vendors with the information system security policies and requirements and the distribution of obligations between vendor and customers.
However, there are many organizations which have initiated the security measures regarding cloud computing which are General Services Administration (GSA), Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB has started the strategies for cloud computing which were under process, during this process GSA has started its own strategies for the procurement of cloud computing and undergone countless challenges. On the other hand, NIST has also induced its efforts for information security concerns for cloud computing but still it has not promulgated the security guidance for cloud computing security. It is comprehended that if the agencies remain unable to develop the authentic and effective security guidance, it might become impossible to implement significant security controls for cloud computing applications.
Advantages of Cloud Computing
There are countless advantages which are associated with cloud computing consist of up time, scalability, cost, convenience along with environment can be referred as few major beneficial constraints (Kozloff, 2010, p. 7).
The federal government can easily limit the expanses by adopting the cloud computing environment in a convenient way as it offers the mature infra structure where the federal government would not be worried about the delivery of electricity or power. The services are provided on demand, which makes the acquisition of information or data convenience as it reduces and balances the load significantly. So, the data shifted to cloud computing can be acquired from any communicating device.
One of the major advantage which is associated with cloud computing is the cost effectiveness. It is misunderstood by many consumers that the cloud computing services are only available to federal agencies due to heavy costs and expense. But, in fact, the cloud computing services are much affordable and come with the structured price plan. It is also a fact that cloud computing cannot be considered as the cheapest solution but it still saves the consumer from overrun costs. Hence federal government has introduced the cloud computing to prevent the overrun costs annually.
The federal government, with the implementation of cloud computing, can easily alleviate the need of data centers. These services are offered by the data centers having specialization in software, personal management along with the hardware setup. These data centers further accommodate frequent update and upgrade of both the operating software and underlying hardware. Cloud computing is referred as mirror such as the consumer can reach it from anywhere in the world without having any problem regarding location while the data is placed on another location. This phenomenon gives the federal government regarding the reliability of sensitive information and data as it would be able to keep the location of cloud secret while it would be accessible by federal departments.
One of the major advantage which is favored by the federal government for the deployment of cloud computing is its scalability. It means that according to the governmental changing demands, the cloud computing environment can be extended or shrunken according to changing needs.
The virtualization technology under cloud computing has made its application of flexible due to limiting the utilization of resources during work. The virtualization has enhanced the performance of cloud computing by just making several images of single physical server to allow it work simultaneously. This type of environment has saved the federal government from the waste of many both internal and external useful resources.
There are several potential risks and issues are associated with the cloud computing which consists of security, privacy, network and internet dependency, service quality etc.
One of the major concern which is being analyzed seriously is the security issue with cloud computing. Apart from federal government departments, there many organizations which percept that they can control the flow of data by keeping the data centers under lock and key on premises this would ensure them the low levels of data leakage outside of that organization. But it cannot happen like this as high levels of expertise, skills and equipment are required to ensure the security measures which are very expansive. This is the very reason which hurdles the implementation of cloud computing. One of the main reasons is that the security guidance regard cloud computing in federal government is vague and incomplete due which it makes it inefficient for the deployment. However, many agencies and organization have sorted out and created their own security guidance and policies but they are not generalized hence cannot be utilized with other departments. However, the datacenters are equipped with the hardware and software layers with the proper protection to prevent the data theft along with the network attacks.
The federal government agencies would never tolerate the issue with privacy and they would not even tolerate the server management at different locations. For such cases, the regulation of data storage compliance is ensured as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). For this purpose, federal government needs the regulations for the retention of data along with the varying needs. However, the implementation of private cloud can easily alleviate this issue along with the proper compliance of regulations.
Internet and Network dependency
The internet is considered the crucial part for cloud computing services as without internet connectivity, it would be impossible to communicate with the data centers at other locations. However, VPN can solve the problem of connectivity to data centers with the security and reliability.
To conclude, the cloud computing is no doubt a lucrative approach for the implementation and deployment of cost effective datacenter for federal government. Cloud computing have opened the chances for federal government to reduce the expenditures which are incurred for the creations, development, implementation and maintenance of own data centers. The cloud computing provides the virtual environment which ensures the robustness, reliability and assurance of data delivery under the specific constraints. The initial deployment of cloud computing has significantly paved its impacts on the performance and transportation of data. The cloud computing is based on architectures which are based on platform, hardware and software. However, federal government has provided the tools to all agencies to incorporate them and produce the cloud computing applications according to their needs. Agencies are free to use the architecture of their own choice or they may also develop one according to their standards or needs. Virtualization is another technology which falls under the cloud computing. The federal government strictly intending to deploy the virtualization technology, one of the major issues which are preventing the deployment of cloud computing is the guidance regarding security measures. NIST and other departments are failed to provide the appropriate security guidance for the progress is pending and efforts are incomplete. But, no doubt, the implementation of cloud computing in federal government would save the taxpayers and billions of annual expenditure of government.
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