cloud framework (Gumpanat/Shutterstock.com)

DHS plans a hybrid, multicloud strategy

The Department of Homeland Security Department is working on its cloud strategy, and CIO John Zangardi made it clear it plans for a hybrid cloud with room for multiple cloud service providers because the DHS components all have different needs, he said at the May 26 Washington Technology DHS Industry Day.

The DHS approach contrasts with how the Defense Department is going about its $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud procurement that is slated to have a single winner.

But Zangardi couldn’t be lured into commenting or criticizing DOD’s strategy during the Q&A portion of his presentation. The closest he came to addressing anything going on DOD was when he spoke about how DHS as a younger and smaller organization has more flexibility than DOD.

So while his former employer is moving full steam ahead toward a single cloud provider, Zangardi emphasized that DHS’s approach will have multiple providers and will be a hybrid cloud strategy.

“We don’t want 100, but this will be a hybrid strategy that will allow for multiple players,” he said.

Zangardi created a cloud steering group that will be developing what he called “stretch goals.” The group will include representatives from all of the DHS components -- Transportation Security Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and others. The group will begin meeting in June.

They’ll be looking at ways to streamline the process of moving to the cloud such as looking at whether the DHS authority to operate is too bureaucratic. “We need to start unclogging things,” Zangardi said.

Right now there are 29 applications hosted in the cloud and another 70 have been identified that should move, he said.

Some of his other initiatives include the establishment of two security operations centers -- SOCs -- that will pull in more security operations from the different component agencies of DHS.

“One will be the hot-back up and the other will be the primary SOC,” Zangardi said.

Where the new SOCs will be located has not been determined yet.

An important question to answer is what functions need to remain with the components. “We need to conserve the ability of the components to complete their missions,” he said.

“The SOC and the cloud will fundamentally change how we define IT,” Zangardi said.

He’s also looking at embedded IT such as the software that is used on the screening and security equipment at airports.

And there is also the continuing evolution of DHS’s OneNet, the department’s transport backbone.

“Nothing is going to happen overnight,” he said. “This will take time.”

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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