The Future of FBI Cloud Adoption

Tomas OKeefe_65x85by Tomas O’Keefe, Senior Analyst

Back in February, the Federal Bureau of Investigation hosted a cloud computing day where vendors could talk, face-to-face, with FBI IT personnel about the Bureau’s needs when it came to the next generation of cloud implementation. I had a chance to attend this event and was pleasantly surprised by how willing FBI personnel were to discuss the challenges facing the Bureau and how industry can help accelerate cloud adoption and start to lay out of the framework for the next evolution in the FBI’s network. One of the most important elements that vendors are going to have to keep in mind when selling to the FBI is the dual-mission of law enforcement and intelligence work that the Bureau engages in, meaning a one-size-fits-all solution likely won’t work for the Bureau. What this means is vendors are going to have to be creative about balancing the FBI’s cloud needs in a cost-controlled environment.

Dean Hall, Deputy CIO mentioned that there’s a lot of appeal in cloud, from the speed in provisioning the cloud to a reduction in costs and the ability to pay what you use-elastic demand. One of the biggest challenges is dealing with legacy data – how do federal agencies move what they already have in disparate systems onto the cloud. Another task that the FBI is going to have to wrestle with is making current applications cloud ready, and they’ll likely look for industry assistance in making this a reality. And while the Bureau might look toward internal government solutions for putting its Top Secret data on to the cloud (DISA, perhaps?), it’s likely that unclassified information might find its way onto a public or hybrid cloud. Enabling the FBI to quickly migrate data and ensure that systems and applications can talk to each other in real-time will be key selling points to the Bureau.

Speaking with Carlo Lucchesi, the Assistant Director of the IT Engineering Division, I gleaned a few keys facts about where the FBI stands with regards to its future. First, the FBI has somewhat of an internal roadmap for where it would like to go with regards to its infrastructure, networks, and cloud adoption. Secondly, however, despite having these internal roadmaps, the Bureau really isn’t ready to go public with what it wants to do down the road, and probably needs industry input to help translate its internal plans into something suitable for the contractor community. Carlo thought that industry input might be most valuable in the context of an executive council of industry and Bureau leaders, but this remains a vision yet to be implemented.

So what does this mean for those of you interested in cloud opportunities at the Bureau? Well obviously you’re going to want to reach out to Carlo Lucchesi who may be moving into more of an industry-engagement role as the FBI’s new Chief Innovation Officer as the FBI OCIO reorganizes. Next, keep in mind what the Bureau is looking for – tools that will help it translate legacy data and applications onto cloud-platforms, more efficient cloud storage, and a flexible, agile network infrastructure that will mitigate costs, while maximizing performance for the future. Tall tasks, all of them, but these should be the focus of your conversations with FBI IT leaders.

About Tomas O'Keefe
Tom O'Keefe has over 7 years of market research experience as an Analyst and Consultant in the federal space. He also earned an MA in Political Science from George Mason University. He has covered both civilian and defense agencies and has presented to clients ranging from junior-level associates to executives from some of the largest Systems Integrators and contractors in the federal marketplace.

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