IBM is opening two cloud data centers that use SoftLayer infrastructure, which offers greater control and security to the federal government.
The first center, located in Dallas, will go online this month. The other center, in Ashburn, Va., is scheduled to open in the fall. What's unique about SoftLayer -- which IBM acquired for $2 billion a year ago -- is that it allows cloud services to be created very quickly on both virtual and dedicated servers, Anne Altman, general manager of IBM US Federal, told InformationWeek Government. With SoftLayer, data can be moved automatically between virtual servers and bare metal servers.
SoftLayer also offers a built-in private network, so agencies can isolate public and private networks. "Hybrid clouds allow agencies to design a customized IT solution -- a mix between existing IT capabilities with new cloud services -- that meet their specific needs," said Altman. "This allows agencies more control over where sensitive data and services reside."
[HHS has authorized Salesforce to operate on the government cloud. Read Salesforce.com Gets FedRAMP Approval For Government Cloud.]
Through the new SoftLayer cloud infrastructure, federal agencies have direct control over servers and storage, as well as access to single-tenant or multi-tenant services. The data centers will initially support 30,000 servers and a private network infrastructure providing 2,000 gigabytes per second of connectivity between them.
The two centers are designed specifically for Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) -- a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services. As of June 5, agencies were required to certify their systems for FedRAMP, which is mandatory for any cloud service provider looking to do business with the government. The deadline was set by the General Services Administration (GSA) to ensure that FedRAMP is widely adopted in government.
IBM has started the authorization process and expects to have certifications for the centers this year to meet government security and data standards outlined in FedRAMP and FISMA.
As agencies assess their IT requirements and evaluate cloud services, Altman said, they must consider three things:
The launch of the centers is part of IBM's $1.2 billion effort to expand its global cloud operations. By the end of 2014, it expects to double SoftLayer cloud capacity, and its goal is to operate 40 data centers in China, England, Japan, India, Canada, Mexico, and other countries.
New standards, new security, new architectures. The Cloud First stars are finally aligning for government IT. Read the Cloud Hits Inflection Point issue of InformationWeek Government Tech Digest today (free registration required).Elena Malykhina began her career at The Wall Street Journal, and her writing has appeared in various news media outlets, including Scientific American, Newsday, and the Associated Press. For several years, she was the online editor at Brandweek and later Adweek, where she ... View Full Bio