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Anne Altman

Anne Altman, General Manager, US Federal, IBM

By Anne Altman

Federal CIOs and government leaders face the all too familiar IT “trifecta”: ongoing budget constraints, desire to integrate new technologies, and recognition of security risks.

In President Obama’s Budget Proposal for FY 2015, the administration emphasizes a leaner, more efficient and better-educated federal workforce against the backdrop of declining IT budgets. Cuts in staffing, a growing mobile workforce and fewer technology dollars require a new approach to business – one that drives innovation and better outcomes.

At the same time, the technology industry is undergoing a reordering that is driven by the convergence of technologies like cloud, mobility and analytics. At no time in our history of IT has there been such a confluence of technologies, creating new ways to engage that change the profile of the industry and in turn, provide opportunities to improve government.

In particular, the emergence of cloud has started to drive a significant retooling of federal IT infrastructure. Initial cloud deployments have been about reducing capital expenditure and cost cutting. While the majority of agencies have focused on these type of deployments so far, projections have cloud skyrocketing to 46 percent of IT spending by 2020. It’s obvious that cloud is gaining momentum.

However, true IT transformation comes with full integration of hybrid clouds, which offer more security, flexibility and control while allowing agencies to leverage their existing IT investments and data assets. According to IDC, hybrid and private cloud environments are expected to make up 80 percent of federal cloud deployments. It’s time for federal agencies to realize this transformation.

This is what is driving today’s announcement by IBM of new cloud data centers featuring SoftLayer infrastructure, specifically designed with government clients’ needs in mind, investing in added security features and reducing redundancies to provide a high level of availability and flexibility. In addition, we are fostering an ecosystem of innovation by enabling business partners to deliver over 100 applications and services such as security, desktop virtualization and geospatial services directly to government clients via the new Softlayer centers.

This solution provides agencies true cloud flexibility — the SoftLayer platform can provide single-tenant or multi-tenant services giving federal clients the control and transparency they are familiar with, allowing agencies to build to their specific compliance and security needs. Agencies can also take advantage of bare metal servers, which are dedicated servers providing added control and enhanced performance predictability. Bare metal servers are ideal for government workloads focused on high performance computing and advanced analytics such as those used by federal research, healthcare and academic organizations.

The first center in the network, located in Dallas, Texas, will be online this month and a companion center in Ashburn, Virginia will be available later this year.

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Both centers are designed specifically for Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and we’re building a dedicated Security Operations Center for the new federal government data centers to provide added security, availability and incident response capabilities to government clients.

The cloud forecast for government looks bright.  Not only is the government seeing increased investment from the public sector in capabilities to help meet their needs there also is a huge focus on innovation the deliver the scale and the availability the government requires.  In some respects, the importance of mission workloads is driving industry’s investments and I expect we’ll see this pace to continue.

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