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Success in the Cloud: Recovery.gov on Best Practices

Image: recovery.gov, idc.com

As more federal agencies and departments look to cloud-computing platforms, some organizations are sharing their success stories.

Recovery.gov, the website clearinghouse for financial data about disbursed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, is one example of an early cloud adopter leading the way for other federal agencies.

Michael Wood, director of Recovery.gov, told Federal News Radio, that along with a website redesign, shifting to the cloud has revitalized the site and its mission.

Recovery.gov settled on cloud provider Amazon and its Elastic Cloud Compute solution. The migration took 12 weeks, Wood said.

The biggest challenge was determining if the site’s servers would still be run in the United States, even after taking to the cloud, Wood explained.

“Amazon gave us some assurances it would be,” he added. “So the servers that they’re using are in the U.S. and we moved to the cloud.”

Cloud security, especially server location, is a potent topic. Another cloud-computing standard-bearer, who helmed the General Services Administration’s cloud move earlier this month, sought to assuage the security fears of some cloud critics.

“Information security is about much more than where your server sits,” said GSA Chief Information Officer Casey Coleman. Regardless of location, all of the security controls in the contract would still be monitored, she added.

For Recovery.gov, the security aspects are different, Wood said, because the site is “all about transparency,” which meant less of a focus on privacy and security.

“We had less of that so we had an advantage of being able to move very rapidly,” he explained. “But that’s been very, very successful. It gives us tremendous flexibility.”

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