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Innovations in federal cloud put me on cloud nine

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I have worked in IBM labs and data centers for the past fifteen years, concentrating on aligning IT services with the needs of our business. In doing so, my primary focus has been on enabling the data center for the cloud. However, through the years I have recognized that this journey to transform the data center and adopt cloud computing can be more complicated for some of our federal agencies. They may require new security protocols and other specialized technologies to build their mission-ready clouds and to protect the nation’s mission-critical data housed in the cloud.

A standard cloud offering that would suit many typical businesses may not be enough. The government needs and deserves further innovation that would deliver the unique capabilities they look for in their cloud solutions. I have longed for some dedicated resources from all parts of IBM, including research that would collaborate with federal agencies and other clients to further the adoption of cloud computing across the government. And it seems that my wishes have come true, as we now have 500 employees aligned to a new center to bring this much-needed innovation. I am of course referring to the IBM Federal Cloud Innovation Center (FCIC) in Washington, DC.

According to the recent press release, FCIC, led by IBM’s Chief Innovation Officer for US Federal, Dr. Jane Snowdon, will be joined by Federal Industry Solutions Center (FISC) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and several other Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)-compliant data centers across the country to deliver the center’s mission.

It is also worth noting that IBM SmartCloud Social Collaboration for Government, a software as a service (SaaS) offering compliant with FISMA guidelines, is hosted in the IBM Federal Data Centers and is available for all United States government entities at the federal level.

The following offerings are available from IBM SmartCloud Social Collaboration for Government:

  • IBM SmartCloud eMail, also available in Government Encryption, Traveller and BlackBerry Service offerings
  • IBM SmartCloud Sametime
  • IBM SmartCloud Connections
  • IBM SmartCloud eMail Suite, also available in Blackberry Service offering
  • IBM SmartCloud Office Automation Suite

IBM SmartCloud for Government recently achieved all the current critical security authorizations required ahead of the June 2014 deadline. The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) is a US government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services. The Joint Authorization Board (JAB) is the primary governance group of the FedRAMP, which is a program consisting of the chief information officers (CIOs) of the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the US General Services Administration (GSA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The FedRAMP certification by the JAB of IBM SmartCloud for Government offering is just the beginning according to Anne Altman, general manager of IBM US Federal. “IBM research teams are exploring the next generation of cloud security and are committed to bringing further innovation to the government in this area.”

IBM recently celebrated 100 years of service, and they have certainly endured the test of time by not only embracing change but leading change. In this next era of cloud computing, you can be sure that they are focused on leading the future innovations the government needs to succeed.

IBM’s Federal Community Cloud (FCC) service platform for government is also offered in all of the Federal Data Center facilities, which conform to strict government security standards, processes and directives (for example, DoD Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process [DIACAP], Federal Information Processing Standards [FIPS], Homeland Security Presidential Directive [HSPD]-12, PIV-2 and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPPA]).

Several weeks ago, IBM held the Federal Cloud Innovation Forum in Washington, DC, at the Willard Hotel where former US Secretary of State and retired four-star US Army general Colin Powell delivered the keynote address. Also on Thursday, December 12, 2013, I invite you to register to meet Anne and Jane and to hear other IBM experts explore the key issues shaping cloud adoption in the federal government. This is a great opportunity to see how you can go “Beyond Infrastructure: Running Missions in the Cloud.” I also plan to be there and look forward to meeting you.

Are you as excited as I am? Comment below or follow me on Twitter @faidun.


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