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GCN : November 2012
14 GCN NOVEMBER 2012 • GCN.COM [BrieFing] Two months is not a lot of time to develop a public-facing website. But if an agency has a development platform already in place and works with a company that knows something about moving applications to the cloud, it just might have a suc- cessful launch. That s how the National Insti- tute of Health s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences was able to build a website from scratch after being established by Congress just in December 2011. What does a center with an esoteric-sounding acronym like NCATS do? "NCATS was estab- lished to speed up the basic scientific discovery for patient therapies and treatments," said NCATS CIO Jim Blagaich, adding the Center will "focus on rare diseases and developing small compounds that treat" those diseases. And here s how they sped up their web-development project. 1. Origins. As soon as Congress appropriated money for the of NCATS, "we had to com- municate the new mission to the public," Blagaich said. "In December, we were established and we had to have the website up and running in two months." 2. Line-up (trusted) partners. NCATS partnered with Aquilent, a provider of technical services to the federal government, because of the company s knowledge of the cloud and its Percussion content manage- ment system, which allows NCATS to push content to the site and hosted in the Amazon Web Services GovCloud. Through NCATS previous work with Aquilent, a develop- ment environment had already been set up to speed develop- ment of content templates. The production servers were up in about six weeks. 3. Secure management endorsement. At that point, NCAST had to wait for the dep- uty director of NIH to approve the content. "It s nice to have that change where technol- ogy is no longer the friction for getting things up and running," said Mark Pietrasanta, CTO at Aquilent. Technology should be completely out of the way, Pietrasanta said, noting that price, speed and flexibility are the triple drivers of most agen- cies moving to the cloud. Acculturate power-users. The primary challenges NCATS o cials faced moving to the cloud were organizational, get- ting people within NIH to accept cloud computing. That is where it helped to have the support of the deputy director, a major stakeholder in the new center, Blagaich said. Making sure that everyone was comfortable with the move and understood the di er- ences between cloud computing versus traditional IT which was critical, Pietrasanta said. This included bringing on board the IT sta assigned to do the opera- tional maintenance of the com- ponents, the program o ces, contracting o cers and all other stakeholders, he said. Execute punch list. Every situ- ation is di erent, Blagaich said. The information NCATS put up on its website is low risk; there is no patient information. NCAST is operating at Federal Informa- tion Security Management Act low-level security requirements. "One of the things we did not anticipate was not to be able to extend [Microsoft] Active Direc- tory authorization/authentica- tion to the cloud. That proved to be di cult. We could not overcome that hurdle," Blagaich said. So the NCATS team set up an Active Directory server in the cloud and is now working with NIH to move Active Directory authentication into the cloud. Next steps. NCAST o cials are looking at other systems that could be suited for the cloud, such as a document manage- ment system and a scien- tific information system that receives progress reports from scientists at universities with whom NIH collaborates. • How a brand-new NIH center built its website from scratch Lockheed Martin is offering govern- ment agencies a single storefront where they can receive cloud services from the company's private and community clouds as well as from partner cloud providers such as Amazon Web Ser- vices and Microsoft. The Solution as a Service (SolaS) hy- brid cloud solution provides a modular suite of capabilities delivering com- mand, control, brokerage and security across multiple clouds, according to Curt Aubley, vice president of NexGen Cyber Innovation & Technology with Lockheed Martin. SolaS uses Lockheed Martin's intelligence-driven defense approach to provide proactive and continuous cloud security situational awareness, and real-time compliance and con gura- tion management, Aubley said. These capabilities leverage technologies from Lockheed Martin partners including CA, Cisco,Intel and VMWare. The growth of cloud assets and providers has created a need for brokers who can help organizations pick the cloud provider and services that match their requirements, he said. SolaS addresses that need through the storefront. Agency users log into the storefront, where a wizard guides them through the selection process. SolaS automates and orchestrates end-to-end services, providing en- hanced security, integrated nancials and transparent visibility across all cloud assets, Aubley said. The aim is to help agencies avoid cloud vendor lock-in. In fact, Lockheed Martin is helping the Environmental Protection Agency move 18,000 employees to Of ce 360, Microsoft's cloud-based e-mail and col- laboration system by early 2013. -- Rutrell Yasin Lockheed offers agencies a cloud storefront CASE STUDY