DOE, National Labs Reveal Sweeping Cloud Strategy

Strategy outlines dozens of innovative initiatives underway or planned at the Department of Energy and the 22 national laboratories.

J. Nicholas Hoover, Senior Editor, InformationWeek Government

December 10, 2012

3 Min Read

Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers

Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers

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Slideshow: Top 20 Government Cloud Service Providers

The Department of Energy and its national laboratories released a wide-ranging cloud computing strategy and overview that for the first time pulls together the disparate cloud computing efforts of the agency's 22 national laboratories.

The strategy largely leaves in place the agency's hands-off approach to information technology at the national labs in what it calls a "cloud of clouds approach": A small set of centralized Department of Energy initiatives will guide the numerous cloud computing efforts at the independently-operated national labs.

Thus far, that hands-off approach has led to significant innovation at the labs.

[ Read How The Feds Drive Cloud Innovation. ]

The strategy highlights a number of cloud computing initiatives and efforts at the national labs that range widely from the basic to the innovative, from infrastructure-as-a-service to Google Apps to virtual desktop infrastructures. Among them:

Department Of Energy's YOURcloud

The agency's YOURcloud hybrid cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service offering will position the Department of Energy as a cloud broker and orchestrator, linking the agency and national labs to various public and private cloud service providers, and providing a home for the agency's future enterprise app store. Based as it is on Los Alamos National Lab's Infrastructure on Demand platform, YOURcloud shows that the agency will likely lean on its national labs to execute any centralized elements to its cloud strategy.

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory FermiCloud

Fermi has set up a private cloud infrastructure-as-a-service offering for development and testing of scientific apps and open source cloud frameworks and for operation of grid computing apps and services. The offering gives end users access to virtual machines without having to go through IT, and has been configured to support supercomputing apps.

Cloud Email Collaboration

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Savannah River National Laboratory have teamed up to investigate and pilot Microsoft Office 365 productivity and collaboration services. If given the go-ahead, the effort could combine the national labs' buying power and eliminate the overhead of having to operate email servers and other offerings on premises.

Nevada National Security Site VDI

Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) has already replaced half of its physical desktops with zero clients, and plans to continue down that path toward a virtual desktop infrastructure in an effort that could save NNSS $800,000 annually. The next phases of the migration will push VDI beyond standard desktops and will allow for three-dimensional modeling and complex computations.

Overall, several of the labs express plans in the strategy document to use YOURcloud, and the aforementioned Microsoft Office 365 effort also indicates strong prospects for a shared future. Additionally, numerous national labs have or are piloting or planning cloud infrastructure services and virtual desktop infrastructures.

Taken as a whole, the Energy cloud strategy document indicates that, although the national labs and the department as a whole continue to operate independently of one another, many of them are on the same page on cloud computing and are even working together. That's at least a start toward more unified IT at the Department of Energy.

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About the Author(s)

J. Nicholas Hoover

Senior Editor, InformationWeek Government

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