Chasing Cost-Effectiveness

By Eileen Feretic  |  Posted 2011-01-04 Print this article Print

Defense alliance seeks security, savings and interoperability.

The pilot has a cost-effectiveness component, and one of the key parts of that involves the ratio of support personnel to the number of servers. The ratio is still very high, according to Goossens, who said the goal is to get it closer to the industry standard in order to bring costs down. He added that the personnel savings are likely to generate the greatest cost savings.

As a way of achieving that goal, ACT’s private cloud will be completely virtualized, using technologies from VMware, Microsoft and the open-source Xen environment—technologies already in use by the member nations. To manage these diverse technologies,  “IBM offered to write tools for cloud management in this heterogeneous environment,” Goossens said.

Security is obviously another major issue for ACT. “Given the nature of our organization, information security is always at the top of the [priority] list,” he said, “so we will be looking at the security aspects of cloud technologies quite seriously. We obviously want to avoid a WikiLeak type of issue, but, in the end, I think that was a human problem rather than an electronic problem, so that will be dealt with separately.”

Goossens pointed out that such security problems are not just a concern of government. The private sector, especially in the finance and health care industries, has similar worries. He said that the cloud pilot will look at the policy, training and organizational pieces that play such an important role in security.

 “We also will address cultural issues,” he added. “We need to figure out how to educate people better so they use these technologies smarter. We have to adjust our processes so people don’t inadvertently make these mistakes. We have to train them, and we have to have safeguards.

“All these things will be looked at. It isn’t just ‘Let’s get a cloud in a box.’ We think the human aspect is far more challenging than the technology aspect. If we invest in training, we may solve some of these problems. At ACT, training is one of the key components we’re looking at.

“We don’t look at technology as a silver bullet anymore. It has to be used in conjunction with new processes and training. That’s how you benefit from these technologies.”

Eileen Feretic is the Editor of Baseline Magazine.

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