When the Department of Interior (DoI) awarded its $10 billion contract for cloud storage services earlier this year, the decision opened the way for the department to accomplish several objectives at once.
The most visible, from a public perspective, is furthering DoI’s commitment to the White House data center consolidation initiative, first announced in February 2010 and updated and expanded since then. By consolidating data centers and moving to the cloud, the department aims to reduce its data center footprint 45 percent by the end of 2015. Department CIO Bernard Mazer, who also serves as co-chairman of the CIO Council’s Federal Data Center Consolidation Task Force, described the Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts as a “one-stop shop” for DoI’s contractor-supplied hosting.
What will be less noticeable, but just as important, will be the gains in operating efficiency by restructuring data storage as part of the move. As the raw amount of data proliferates, utilizing virtualization, storage tiering, and automation will create the structure to keep information both organized and accessible. “We’re looking at many different types of technology for virtualizing servers, storage and desktops,” Mazer said.
For example, he said, DoI set up a cloud-based database to capture, organize, and store all emails. That maximizes the efficiency of information storage, but just as important, it has led to the automation of Freedom of Information Act searches, lifting the burden from employees of manually searching their emails to fulfill FOIA requests.
As more of DoI’s storage is moved to the cloud, the department will be able to lower the cost of data protection and improve the back-up process. Streamlining databases by deduplicating records and eliminating redundant data, reorganizing files for improved search and reporting functions, and automating processes such as synchronizing content shared among designated users, all provide both improved user experiences – an important criterion for any network administrator – and stronger security for the data, in use and at rest.
As cloud services are implemented, the opportunity to provide mobile tools to DoI’s workforce will create further efficiencies.
“We are also actively courting the use of consumer devices into our world. We will have tablets and smartphones within our department, those devices are subject to security constraints and life cycle management. We are also looking at [bring-your-own-device] and how we can protect the federal database and individual private space,” Mazer said in an interview earlier in 2013. The IDIQ facilitates the move to mobile by providing access to private sector expertise familiar with working within federal policy constraints.
“Continuous access and hybridized mobility strategies, including BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) and legacy agency-supplied devices have made data protection and archiving crucial capabilities for enabling effective mobile workers given the variance in device deployment,” said Shawn Smucker, Senior Manager, Federal Systems Engineering with CommVault. “IT leaders often look to third party experts and industry consultants to help them navigate the myriad of requirements that must be considered.”