Standards Group Releases Cloud 'Roadmap' for Government

To encourage U.S. government agencies to adopt cloud computing technologies, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued a "roadmap" draft for public comment.

The draft, titled "U.S. Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap, Release 1.0" (NIST Special Publication 500-293), is designed to support the secure and effective adoption of the cloud computing model by federal agencies. It will also support private-sector cloud efforts, improve the information available to IT decision-makers, and facilitate the continued development of the cloud computing model, NIST officials said.

The public comment period is open through Dec. 2.

Dawn Leaf, NIST's senior adviser for cloud computing, was scheduled to provide an overview of the technology roadmap at the NIST Cloud Computing Forum & Workshop IV on the morning of Nov. 2. The cloud forum is being held on NIST's campus in Gaithersburg, Md., on Nov. 2-3, and at the Crowne Plaza Rockville in Rockville, Md., on Nov. 4.

The draft publication defines high-priority requirements for standards, official guidance and technology developments that need to be met for agencies to accelerate their migration of existing IT systems to the cloud computing model.

"A key contribution of the roadmap effort is to focus the discussion to achieve a clear understanding between the government and private sector," Leaf said, "particularly on the specific technical steps" such as standards, guidance and technology solutions that are needed to move federal IT from its current early-cloud state to a cloud-based foundation, as envisioned in the "U.S. Federal Cloud Computing Strategy."

NIST plans to issue the final "U.S. Government Cloud Computing Roadmap" as a three-volume work. The first two volumes are being released Nov. 2.

Volume I, "High-Priority Requirements to Further USG Agency Cloud Computing Adoption," provides a general understanding and overview of the roadmap initiative, including:

  • Prioritized interoperability, portability and security requirements that must be met to further government cloud adoption.

  • Standards, guidelines and technology that must be in place to satisfy these requirements.

  • A list of Priority Action Plans (PAPs) recommended for voluntary self-tasking by the cloud stakeholder community to support standards, guidelines and technology development.

Volume II, "Useful Information for Cloud Adopters," is the nuts-and-bolts publication, NIST officials said. It is a technical reference that is useful for those working on strategic and tactical cloud computing initiatives, whether they work in government agencies or not. Volume II integrates and summarizes the work completed to date, explains the assessment findings based on this work and details how these findings support the road map introduced in Volume I.

The third volume, "Technical Considerations for USG Cloud Computing Deployment Decisions," is under development as part of an interagency and public working group collaborative effort. It is intended as a guide for decision-makers who are planning and implementing cloud computing solutions. The document explains how the technical work in Volume II can be applied to the decision framework defined in the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy.

Much of the work that forms the basis for the roadmap has been completed through public working groups open to interested parties from industry, academia and government. Hundreds of people are registered in the five NIST Cloud Computing Working Groups that were established in November 2010, NIST officials said.  The working groups also contributed to the content of two related cloud publications released earlier this year: "NIST Cloud Computing Standards Roadmap" (SP 500-291) and "NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture" (NIST SP 500-292).

The roadmap has undergone a 60-day review exercise through the Federal Cloud Computing Standards and Technology Working Group. This NIST-led group was formed in July under the auspices of the Federal CIO Council and includes representatives from about 30 U.S. government agencies. The review focused heavily on the list of USG Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap requirements.

The roadmap document is intended for a diverse audience, including those with key roles identified in the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy and academia, government and industry.

Comments on the first two volumes are due by 5 p.m. Eastern time Dec. 2. Electronic comments should be sent to [email protected], while written ones can be mailed to Robert Bohn, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 100 Bureau Dr., Stop 2000, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-2000.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is the senior technology editor of Government Computer News (


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