Cloud
News
2/29/2012
02:11 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Harris Scraps Secure Public Cloud Service

Large government contractor shutters cloud computing service and $200 million data center, less than a year after opening.

Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progres
Federal Data Center Consolidation Makes Progress
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Systems integrator Harris Corporation announced Monday that it plans to shutter a secure public cloud computing service it began offering just last year, citing customers' preferences to keep "mission-critical" applications on premises.

Harris launched its Cyber Integrated Solutions in spring 2011 from a $200 million refurbished, 140,000-square-foot data center in Harrisonburg, Va., claiming that its offerings would be able to host sensitive data in the cloud. Now that bet is backfiring, and Harris won't just be discontinuing its new Trusted Enterprise Cloud services, but will also be selling off the new data center, and expects to do so at a loss.

"Customers, both government and commercial, currently have a preference for on-premises versus off-premises solutions," Harris CEO William Brown said on an earnings call in January, foreshadowing the company's decision this week to stop offering its cloud services. "Customers don't place additional value on trust and are unwilling to move the most mission-critical applications to the cloud before less-sensitive applications are thoroughly tested and vetted in a cloud environment."

[ Agencies are getting some guidelines on cloud security, privacy, and SLAs. See Feds Offer Agencies Guidance On Cloud Implementation. ]

It's unclear whether that's entirely the case, or whether Harris simply has been unable to compete. Security continues to be the biggest concern for cloud services, according to InformationWeek's recent State of Cloud Computing Survey. Guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which sets federal cybersecurity requirements, meanwhile, tell agencies that "available risk mitigation techniques are unlikely to ever be sufficient enough to allow high-value or highly sensitive data or mission-critical applications to be deployed to a public cloud."

However, according to a survey by McKinsey, CIOs expect to have a relatively balanced approach to their mission-critical and custom line-of-business systems over the next few years, with about a third of these systems in public clouds, a third in private clouds, and a third in traditional environments.

While Harris may be leaving the government cloud market, other companies continue to get good news or ramp up their offerings. Amazon, Microsoft, and Terremark all offer cloud services to government and operate or plan to build data centers near Washington, D.C., and Google has been steadily adding government customers as well.

As recently as November, Harris was publicly singing a different tune. At the time, Harris VP Wyatt Starnes told Network World that the company had dozens of customers, with more in the pipeline, and was planning expansion into other data centers for geographic redundancy.

When Harris released its cloud services last year, it trumpeted the many patented security features, including ongoing guarantees that customers were running only the workload they expected to be running. As Rich Plane, Harris' director of cyber integration solutions development and delivery, explained to InformationWeek last year, the company would capture a "digital fingerprint" of customer workloads and then verify that fingerprint repeatedly.

Harris' services also offered customers a "trust score" that indicated to customers just how secure their services were, and allowed customers to increase or decrease the score with additional security features depending on their security needs.

While Harris may be getting out of the cloud for now, a Harris spokesman said that in no way meant that Harris would be leaving the hosted or managed services market entirely.

Harris does about $5.9 billion worth of business annually, with most of its business going to government. The company was the 18th largest federal contractor in fiscal 2010, with $3.9 billion in federal business, according to federal contracting data.

How 10 federal agencies are tapping the power of cloud computing--without compromising security. Also in the new, all-digital InformationWeek Government supplement: To judge the success of the OMB's IT reform efforts, we need concrete numbers on cost savings and returns. Download our Cloud In Action issue of InformationWeek Government now. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
cbabcock
50%
50%
cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
3/1/2012 | 11:09:33 PM
re: Harris Scraps Secure Public Cloud Service
Harris built pioneering features into its Cyber Integrated Solutions center and I'm sorry they didn't gain traction with them. They did a great job in conceptualizing cloud security as it ought to exist -- the digital fingerprint for a workload being one of them -- but they were too far ahead of their times.
2014 Next-Gen WAN Survey
2014 Next-Gen WAN Survey
While 68% say demand for WAN bandwidth will increase, just 15% are in the process of bringing new services or more capacity online now. For 26%, cost is the problem. Enter vendors from Aryaka to Cisco to Pertino, all looking to use cloud to transform how IT delivers wide-area connectivity.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 7, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program!
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.