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Expert Panel Offers Insights Into Cloud Migration During Potomac Officers Club’s Are We There Yet? Event

Left to Right: Chris Cummiskey, Kshemendra Paul, Frontis Wiggins, Dr. Emma Alexander, Don Parente

On Thursday, Nov. 29th, GovCon leaders from the public and private sector gathered for the Potomac Officers Club’s Are We There Yet? Your Journey to the Cloud and the Pit Stops Along the Way Agenda, featuring an expert panel consisting of Dr. Emma Alexander and Kshemendra Paul of the Department of Homeland Security, Don Parente of AT&T and Chris Cummiskey of Cummiskey Strategic Solutions, LLC. The event was moderated by Frontis Wiggins, of Northrop Grumman.

Following the keynote address from Dr. John Zangardi, chief information officer for the DHS, Wiggins introduced the panel members who were each given the opportunity to share their background in cloud migration and disclosed the challenges facing the advancement of the technology as it continues to influence the national security of the U.S.

Chris Cummiskey has worked in the government for 25 years. During his tenure with DHS, he’s witnessed the evolution of cloud migration since 2009. At the time, the department wanted to capitalize on emerging technology and the discussion was based on taking advantage of the tech to save money. He believes cloud migration is in a similar situation to that of data center consolidation ten years ago.

“The future is bright for cloud. The waves are continuing to crash against the shore. You’re going to have to get past the issues of security, procurement and people, but the elements and hallmarks are there to be successful. You will see better service delivery and capabilities for deployment.”

Don Parente leads a team of engineers and architects for AT&T. Prior to joining the federal team, he oversaw AT&T’s cloud business. Parente believes the key to an effective cloud space is to have a great network. His team is focused on private network connectivity, network security and cloud services. As the result of his experience, Parente views the challenges of cloud migration through an economic lens.

“If the government was a startup, we would just start with the cloud. When you already have this massive embedded base of IT resources and thousands of applications sitting in a data center, is it financially beneficial to move an existing app to the cloud? For me, app migration allows an app to be modernized and consolidated. You want to get to a point where it’s all or nothing.”

Kshemendra Paul, the cloud action officer for the DHS, discussed the issues surrounding workforce procurement. He emphasized that there are technical and security elements to the cloud, but there is the main concern of bringing the workforce along effectively and engaging with their partners.

“Our strategy at DHS is focusing on a component let approach, a federated approach. Where we work from the early adopters and try to identify pathfinders and learn from them to identify the barriers because they’ve worked around those barriers. They’re worked around workforce issues and a lack of human capital. Our goal is knowing what the barriers are and chip away at them.”

Dr. Alexander credits her experience with the Transportation Security Administration and her strong technical background for her knowledge in cloud migration. She declared that the TSA was the first DHS agency to adopt the private cloud and a public cloud through the GSA contract. She reiterated that the government continues to face the same problems and challenges every year as technology continues to advance.

“The government is always catching up to what’s happening in the technology world. All of the different regulations, all of the compliance rules were written for a different environment than cloud. Because of that, everything around security, procurement, rules and regulations were used for a traditional IT environment. How do we take the rules and make them fit into something that they were never designed for? That’s a real challenge and also a real opportunity.”

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