Computing giant Dell is making a major new push into the government sector, today announcing a comprehensive cloud offering geared for federal agencies.
The Dell Cloud for U.S. Government offers federal CIOs a range of technologies provided through a usage-based, cloud-delivery model, ranging from software applications up through platform and infrastructure services.
Chief among the selling points for federal government customers who are still finding their way in cloud computing is a level of flexibility and customization that can tailor a deployment to an agency's security expectations and management capacity. That means agency CIOs will be able to tap Dell for a dedicated, on-premises cloud, or opt to place certain applications in a shared environment that's managed remotely.
"It basically is, in a nutshell, a dedicated and a multitenant cloud environment that's going to offer several very unique attributes," says Jeff Lush, CTO of Dell Services Federal Government, who describes the offering as "location-neutral."
"It doesn't matter where you put it--you can host it, we can host it, put it in the back of a Humvee," Lush says.
The unveiling of Dell's government cloud comes at a time of keen interest in cloud computing among federal IT decision makers, thanks in part to a series of memos and directives from the White House encouraging steps to modernize the government technology apparatus, as well as the ongoing budget pressures agencies are facing.
Feds Begin to Drift to the Cloud
Many federal CIOs have identified security worries as a major barrier to moving their agency to the cloud, a concern that Dell is addressing with what Lush calls a "built-in compliance framework," comprised of nearly 300 controls stipulated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for various levels of security tailored to the sensitivity of the information in a particular environment.
While Dell is dropping news of its government cloud offering today, the company doesn't except agency deployments of its private cloud to be operational until around mid-summer. Then the multi-tenant solution likely won't be available until the end of this year or early next, when it is expected to receive security certification under the FedRAMP program, according to Lush.
FedRAMP, shorthand for the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, is a government-wide security standard for cloud-service providers intended create uniform baseline requirements across federal agencies, and to spare contractors from having to meet different certification requirements for each agency from which they're seeking a contract.
Dell is looking to match that spirit of uniformity with the stock menu of compliance features it is including to help federal customers meet the criteria for various cloud deployments set by NIST. Then in addition to NIST compliance, Dell's cloud offers an array of other tools that promise to help automate the various security and operational approvals that federal IT leaders have to navigate, including FISMA, DIACAP, HIPAA and others.
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