IBM Launches Federal Cloud Innovation Center in D.C.

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-10-23

IBM Launches Federal Cloud Innovation Center in D.C.

IBM announced the opening of a new Federal Cloud Innovation Center dedicated to helping federal agencies and other public-sector organizations advance the adoption of cloud computing across the government.

The new IBM Federal Cloud Innovation Center in Washington, D.C., will bring IBM’s cloud-computing research efforts closer to federal agencies to develop specialized technologies and methods for building mission-ready clouds, Big Blue officials said.

Moreover, the IBM center will draw on the cloud computing expertise of more than 500 IBM professionals aligned to the center along with IBM’s global network of more than 37,000 cloud industry experts. These experts include IBM researchers, IT infrastructure architects, software developers and consultants with deep industry knowledge in managing major transformation projects across the federal government as well as implementing cloud solutions.

IBM said key focus of the center will be to work with the government to explore further the adoption of open standards for cloud computing across the federal government. Open standards in cloud computing provide integration, break down barriers between clouds within government, and drive workload portability. IBM is a significant contributor to OpenStack, cloud standards and other open protocols that can help ensure that different providers’ clouds will have accessibility. IBM brings unique implementation capabilities on top of the open-source code for agencies looking to quickly and securely deploy open technologies in their cloud-computing environments.

“Our work at the center will help evolve cloud in these early days of its rollout across the federal government into a platform agencies can trust and grow off of,” said Anne Altman, general manager of IBM US Federal, in a statement. “Now is not the time for government to settle for what is only available commercially. Now is the time for them to join with industry to build security, reliability and standards that will make for a trusted government cloud environment.”

In addition to working with and on cloud standards, the center’s staff will also collaborate with federal agencies and other clients on new security innovations to protect data housed in the cloud–which has been a key concern for government agencies. IBM researchers continue to develop new methods for data encryption in the cloud, ensuring data always remains secure while it is being transported, searched and processed. Also, the center is able to help agencies exploit the more than 3,600 cloud APIs IBM has in its portfolio for integration and hardware configurations. These APIs enable faster customization of cloud solutions to the specific needs of federal government clients.

“IBM’s research collaborations with the government have led to major advancements in networking, high-performance computing and most recently in the emerging field of cognitive systems,” said Dr. John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of IBM Research, in a statement. “We see a tremendous opportunity to further the development of cloud technologies with the federal government by providing access to the latest breakthroughs in security and reliability coming out of IBM’s research labs.”

IBM Launches Federal Cloud Innovation Center in D.C.

The new cloud innovation center will be based in IBM's Institute for Electronic Government at 600 14th Street, NW, in Washington, D.C. The innovation center will collaborate with federal agencies, academia and other institutions in the Washington metropolitan area and nationally on cloud computing. The IBM Federal Cloud Innovation Center will provide access to skilled experts in Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Business Process as a Service. Consultants with agency-specific expertise will also be on staff to help each federal agency quickly and effectively take advantage of the cloud, IBM said.

Dr. Jane Snowdon, a former IBM Research executive who recently joined the IBM Federal team as IBM’s Chief Innovation Officer for US Federal, will lead the new cloud innovation center. Experts from the IBM Federal Industry Solution Center in Gaithersburg, Md., will participate in the delivery of the center’s mission. Also part of the center will be resources from IBM’s SmartCloud for Government, designed to help government organizations respond to technology requirements more quickly, and SoftLayer, an IBM company. IBM's SmartCloud for Government FISMA-compliant cloud environments are part of IBM’s established and dedicated Federal Data Centers (FDC) in Colorado, North Carolina and West Virginia, which provide secure and comprehensive certified multi-tenant cloud computing capabilities to federal government clients. FISMA-compliant SoftLayer data centers in Ashburn, Va., and Dallas, Texas, provide high-performing cloud computing on demand, delivered as bare metal as well as virtual servers, IBM said.

In addition to the SmartCloud for Government, IBM's Global Business Services have expanded its expertise in cloud consulting services to help clients more quickly and easily deploy cloud environments including solutions for mobile, desktop and security applications for federal and other government customers. For example in mobile, IBM offers Worklight and Apperian as a pre-integrated SaaS solution, capable of supporting the full mobile application life cycle in a process that satisfies government IT security requirements. Alternatively and complementarily to mobile, the IBM Hosted Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or Desktop as a Service (DaaS) offering provides a secure cloud solution, enabling agencies to economically satisfy their desktop needs. Also, with security a top concern for government customers' cloud applications, IBM’s Security Operations Center (SOC) solution can act as the customer’s central resource for system security monitoring and notification as well as threat prevention.

Among the cloud projects IBM already has underway with the government is a just-announced engagement with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The agency will securely manage more than five million orders a year on IBM’s Smart Cloud for Government. The GSA will use cloud infrastructure, software and services to lead the agency's transformation to a faster, more efficient business model that provides cost savings for the government with next-generation customer service capabilities.

The IBM Federal Cloud Innovation Center is part of IBM’s cross-company cloud computing efforts, and staff members from IBM Research, IBM Software, IBM Systems and Technology, IBM Global Business Services, and IBM Technology Services are participating in the center.

IBM said it has helped more than 20,000 clients around the world with cloud-computing projects. Today, IBM has more than 100 cloud SaaS solutions, 37,000 experts with deep industry knowledge helping clients transform, and a network of more than 25 global cloud delivery centers. Since 2007, IBM has invested more than $6 billion in acquisitions to accelerate its cloud initiatives. Most recently IBM acquired SoftLayer with more than 21,000 clients in 140 countries to further build out its IaaS portfolio with an easy and secure on-ramp to cloud and integration with IBM SmartCloud.

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