The Federal Cloud Computing Center of Excellence’s C.A.S.T.L.E Guide Makes Moving to the Cloud Foolproof

With “digital transformation” and “IT modernization” at the top of many federal agencies’ priority lists, many departments are still assessing how to tackle their “cloud first” initiatives. Because this is unknown territory to many government organizations that have been operating on legacy IT systems that are 30 some years old, many have sought out guidance from industry leaders on how to best implement the right cloud computing approach for them.

This ongoing discussion around why, how and what to implement cloud-wise for federal agencies prompted the creation of the Federal Cloud Computing Center of Excellence (CCoE) this spring at the General Services Administration (GSA) gathering. The CCoE’s primary deliverable has come to be known as the C.A.S.T.L.E guide, or Cloud Adoption Survival, Tips, Lessons Learned and Experiences guide.

The  CCoE is an interagency working group comprised of 140+ representatives, both at executive level and IT implementation level,  from over 48 agencies and components including (but not limited to) the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of the Interior (DOI).

Syed Azeem, CCoE advocacy and outreach lead and a senior IT Project Manager for the Department of Labor

Syed Azeem, CCoE advocacy and outreach lead and a senior IT Project Manager for the Department of Labor (DOL), stated that the group wanted to, “create a practical lessons-learned resource and a shared framework where we have a common way of acquiring cloud services across the federal government.”

He further noted that the C.A.S.T.L.E guide is analogous to FedRAMP as far as being a resource for cloud implementation in the federal space, but while FedRAMP focuses on the security aspect, C.A.S.T.L.E focuses on the acquisition side of the equation.

Azeem explained that the CCoE understands that federal agencies looking to acquire cloud computing services are likely to all be at different phases in their cloud journey, which is why the C.A.S.T.L.E guide is structured by scenarios sensitive to any given agency’s cloud maturity level, resources, staffing, and knowledge level.

The C.A.S.T.L.E guide promises to be a resource to help mitigate intimidation or reluctance in agencies that might fear having to uproot systems in which they are already comfortable and familiar. Agencies know that moving to the cloud is imminent and will offer better system resiliency, improved data availability, more agile application deployment, higher levels of security and ultimately, increased cost efficiency, but the problem for most agencies is knowing where to start. Enter the C.A.S.T.L.E guide.

“Cloud computing is a prerequisite to a lot of the things that we as a federal government need to do and some things that we want to do, including improved customer experience and being more responsive to citizens and internal customers” said Azeem. “If we do it in a scalable and government-wide approach, the agencies, big and small, would really benefit from the implementation-specific lessons learned.”

The CCoE is also hosting their Combined Cloud Computing Conversation (C4) event in coordination with the Cloud Computing Acquisition Forum (CCAF) to bring government thought leaders and industry practitioners together and have a dialogue on the challenges and collaboration needed to accelerate cloud adoption across the government. There will be several government and industry panel discussions including CXO Journey to the Cloud, CCoE Outputs Presentation, Industry Perspective and Feedback, as well as a Government and Industry Combined Discussion.

The event will be held on September 26, 2017 from 8:30AM – 12:30 PM at USDA’s South Building in the Jefferson Auditorium. Attendees must register by Thursday September 21, 2017.

A draft version of the resource has been made available to FTI and you can view it guide here. The CCoE team is still soliciting feedback from industry experts in an effort to make it as comprehensive and accurate as possible, so if you have any insights to share with them, Syed encourages you to reach out to ccoe@gsa.gov with your thoughts.

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