Infor recently announced a new suite of cloud-based applications especially designed for the U.S. federal government. Known as CloudSuite Federal, the collection of applications is designed specifically to help federal agencies improve regulatory compliance and efficiency.
New York-based Infor develops solutions and provides consulting for several industries including aerospace, automotive, equipment rental, fashion, finance, government, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. The motivation to develop CloudSuite Federal was driven by reluctance on the part of federal agencies to embrace cloud technology as quickly as the private sector has.
Although federal agencies moved some of their IT to the cloud several years ago, such migration consisted largely of trivial applications, while more mission-critical applications continued to reside in legacy systems. This has been a huge waste of money as maintaining such dated systems accounts for 80 percent of the federal government’s technology budget.
If you could pick one thing as the biggest obstacle to the federal government using cloud technology on a widespread basis, it would likely be security. These concerns are certainly justified as few IT systems are more targeted for attack than those run by a government. A high-profile breach late last year installed a back door on a system developed by Juniper Networks (News - Alert) that was used by federal officials for encrypted communications. The biggest concern from this cyberattack is that it potentially gave hackers access to a countless number of systems.
In response to these concerns, Infor has partnered with Amazon, which will host the applications on the AWS GovCloud. Amazon is one of only three vendors to receive government authorization to handle sensitive government data in a cloud environment. Additionally CloudSuite Federal is compliant with applicable regulations like Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires agencies to accommodate disabled people to the same extent they accommodate others in matters of electronic and information technology.
Slowly, but surely the federal government is starting to accept cloud technology as the best way to implement IT, but there is still some cultural resistance as evidenced by one federal CIO who actually argued to a congressional committee that a legacy COBOL system was a cybersecurity asset.
It might be wishful thinking to expect that moving to the cloud will result in the federal government reducing wasteful spending, but getting federal agency personnel out of the IT business and focused on core functions certainly has that potential, just as it does in the private sector. To continue with the status quo is more than wasteful: it puts critical information systems at such a great risk that the consequences have been referred to by some as a ‘cyber Pearl Harbor’.