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GCN : September 2014
CLOUD MIGRATION NASA has migrated 110 websites and applications to the cloud in a cost-cutting technology over- haul that also introduced the Drupal con- tent management system and other open source components to the agency s enter- prise tool chest. The space-agency s cloudward push included the flagship NASA.gov website and the internal NASA Engineering Net- work, which holds 3 million engineering documents. The migrated applications and websites, which previously resided in a commercial data center, now run on Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) or AWS Gov- Cloud. Roopangi Kadakia, web services execu- tive with NASA s Office of the Chief Infor- mation Officer, said public-facing apps or websites such as NASA.gov and NASA s Digital Learning Network run only on AWS. Websites or applications that have access control or are for internal use go to the Amazon VPC or into GovCloud. NASA completed the migration under NASA s Web Enterprise Service Technolo- gies prime (WESTPrime) blanket purchase agreement, for which it used InfoZen Inc., a cloud broker and integrator based in Rockville, Md. As part of its move to the cloud, NASA adopted open source software such as Dru- pal and Ubuntu, replacing a pre-migration environment that used proprietary solu- tions, including a content management system (CMS) that was out of support. The open source shift has reduced NASA s host- ing expense, Kadakia said. Overall, the new cloud-based environ- ment generated immediate cost savings of 40 percent, she said. Going forward, the cloud platform is expected to reduce the agency s monthly operations and mainte- nance costs by around 25 percent. "The key is it is costing them a whole lot less than what it used to," said Raj Anan- thanpillai, chief executive and president of InfoZen. Kadakia said a data center-oriented con- tract was in place at the time she took her current NASA post two and a half years ago. The agency s budget was also being cut substantially, especially in mission sup- port areas such as IT. The maturing cloud emerged as "a great solution set," Kadakia said, noting that NASA didn t have to focus on data center and associated capital expenses. In preparing for the changeover, the CIO s office talked to about 250 people around NASA to develop a governance process and define requirements for the new web environment. In Decem- ber 2012, NASA tapped InfoZen for the WESTPrime BPA. At the time, NASA described the con- tract as providing an infrastructure-as-a- service, platform-as-a-service and soft- ware-as-a-service solution, "for internal and external websites and web applica- tions." Drupal CMS was one of the SaaS ele- ments. Kadakia said her office conducted a "bake off," evaluating various CMS prod- ucts that people around NASA were using. Drupal was selected on the basis of ease of use and functionality, she said. The migration of the 110 NASA web- sites and applications took 22 weeks, ac- cording to Ananthanpillai from InfoZen. The company applied its experience from previous migration efforts, including more complex projects in the national se- curity space. While this particular phase of the mi- gration phase has been completed, NASA may move other websites and apps to the cloud. There are plenty of candidates: the agency can point to more than 1,500 websites, just on the public-facing side. And the task of analyzing additional web properties for possible cloud transition is already underway. • As part of its move to the cloud, NASA adopted open source software, replacing a pre-migration environment that used proprietary solutions NASA sets course for open source cloud BY JOHN MOORE 26 GCN SEPTEMBER 2014 • GCN.COM NASA's cloud migration generated immediate cost savings of 40 percent, with future monthly savings of 25 percent anticipated. -- ROOPANGI KADAKIA, WEB SERVICES EXECUTIVE, NASA