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18F’s New Platform Aims to Simplify Move to Cloud

The GSA’s digital services team wants to help agencies transition to cloud computing.

18F was introduced last year as the General Services Administration’s digital services task force, which took on the mission of seeking and destroying inefficiencies as they relate to buying and building digital platforms. Now, 18F has accepted the challenge of creating a platform that gives federal agencies access to the cloud.

The new platform, Cloud.gov, was introduced last week, FedScoop reports. It allows agencies to create applications that are both compliant and secure inside the cloud without having to form a private cloud infrastructure or do the busywork typically associated with the process. As product lead Bret Mogilefsky explained, this model reduces the amount of work done across the board:

Rather than have this [cloud service] overhead incurred on every team to kind of understand this regulatory framework and build services and manage them and document them in exactly the right way... Let's invest our efforts into a platform-as-a-service where we can encapsulate that best practice, so that reduces the number of people [that] have to do the work and also makes it so we can tackle the authority to operate procedure in a sort of more centralized and productive way.”

Cloud.gov is also completely open source, meaning agencies have the option of either adding to 18F’s deployment of it or using the source themselves. Furthermore, Mogilefsky said Cloud.gov wasn’t created to rival private cloud vendors. Instead, it represents an early example of something that helps agencies achieve maximum productivity at a lower cost.

“Fundamentally what it's doing is taking things that should be commodities — that cloud operations know-how — and making them not an issue,” Mogilefsky said. “The goal of doing this is not to capture market share or take over the government — the goal is to enable the government to work more efficiently and do more innovative stuff.”

Above all, Cloud.gov manages to do this while meeting each of FedRAMP’s compliance stipulations. Mogilefsky said 18F is working with certain agencies to determine how it can be made available on a broader level.

“It's kind of a staged rollout thing where we're figuring out who is ready to make use of it now and give us the next set of feedback, and once those bumps are smoothed out, we take the next level out and the next level out and keep doing it,” he said. 

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Oct 21 2015

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