DOT CIO: We’ve proven cloud is more than just a buzzword

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The Transportation Department has moved its mail and messaging to the cloud, a lift that involved around 400 terabytes of mail and thousands of users, CIO Richard McKinney said Thursday.

During a webinar on cloud migration, McKinney also discussed why assessing the network is a crucial step when migrating to the cloud.

“I’m happy to say that we’re virtually done with the migration of that service to the cloud,” McKinney said during the webinar on the role of network on the way to cloud, sponsored by Juniper networks and hosted by Fedscoop.

He said that it has been a “very, very successful rollout.”

“We’ve proven to ourselves and to our users that the cloud is more than just a buzzword,” McKinney said.

A crucial piece in that migration, he explained, was taking the time to assess the department’s network. The department hired a company to come in and do a network assessment, a process that’s been going on for the last six to eight months.

With the assessment now in its end stage and the migration to Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud platform “virtually done,” McKinney said his team has seen real results from taking the time to develop an “as-is blueprint” of the network.

They installed software to help them better understand the whole network, including device location and health, and traffic between various points on the network, he explained.

“It’s yielded some tremendous results for us, helped us have a much better understanding of our network and a much better understanding of our traffic,” McKinney said. “We think we’re going to be making a bunch of changes to just, you know, the routes that the offices take and, you know, we’re going to change some of the way we do our relationship with the carriers.”

The DOT has nearly 65,000 employees, and most of them do not work in Washington D.C., McKinney explained. So any migration to the cloud needed to still maintain a good experience for users out in the field.

“Network is the new infrastructure,” McKinney said. “It’s the thing you have to pay the most attention to.”

So far, McKinney said, they have been getting good feedback from users, and the experience is basically like what they had before the migration, which he considers a success.

“If the user experience wasn’t good, that was going to rain on the whole cloud parade,” making it harder to sell further migration to business units, McKinney said.

DOT is just now starting the last stage of designing the desired end-state of its network, he said.

“We’re going to take everything we’ve discovered and everything we’ve learned, and then take in to account all of our applications and the services that are going to ride on our network now and in the future,” he said. “And we’re going to come up with an end-state design that’ll shape our planning and our architectural redesign, if you will, over the next few years.”

Tony Summerlin, senior adviser to the CIO of the Federal Communications Commission, also discussed his agency’s move to the cloud.

“As we moved our data centers, one of the things I severely underestimated was the need for a totally redesigned network approach, because everything started living in the network, as opposed to living in our data center,” Summerlin said.

Later he added: “If I would do anything all over again in the data center moves and the cloud deployments, it would be to try to design — certainly I couldn’t have deployed — but design a network structure and infrastructure that would accommodate various clouds and various deployments and service models before I moved anything out of the building.”

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Cloud, Department of Transportation, Departments, Tech
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