Are community clouds nothing new?

Today we bring you the final part of our three part discussion with Mark White, principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP who works with both the firm’s Federal and Technology practices and CIO of Deloitte Consulting.

Today we continue our discussion of the potential benefits of community clouds, and delve into the security issues that could affect them.

White starts off by explaining that we’ve been down this road of ‘community’ before.

“One of the examples we would see would be trading networks, and I’m not talking about banking ETN’s — electronic trading networks — I’m talking about actual trading networks, like the tier 1 auto providers, and they’re surrounded by tier 2 suppliers who are surrounded by tier 3 suppliers and they actually ended up in this sort of highly networked hub-and-spoke system. They actually were a trading community — I’m not going to say cloud, but I’ll say trading community — that formed around that big hub that was the victory auto manufacturer.


So, in these community clouds, what we might see is some big player forming the hub, and then at one removed — tier 2 — and then second removed — tier 3 players coming into that network and forming that web that’s anchored by that hub. That’s one way they could do it.

The punch line on this is that the federal government as an enterprise has the scale. It may not be practical to expect all of the federal government to come together into a community cloud. Let’s say that sort of the minimum would be defense and civilian. Practically speaking, I would get a defense community — and Intel community — and a civilian community cloud. Now, if you look at what [Vivek] Kundra is writing and putting forward and the positions he’s taking, I believe that’s very much in line with the idea that he’s putting forward.

So, in one of those, and DoD would be very interesting because obviously there’s the Department and then the branches of service and then all of the service agencies. That’s kind of a natural hub — [with a] tier 1 and tier 2. One could imagine, for example, the Gigabyte Information Grid is the kind of service around which they might form a community. So, that’s an example of something that has a command and control for which there could be a centralized hub and a clear tier 2/tier 3 where there could be a common trust basis for the community, etc.

The second way that we saw those things form back in the past, and think about — again — trading communities. [It] was along a value chain, or a supply chain. So, rather than a hub with tier 2 and tier 3 surrounding them, what you had was this chain that went from the beginning of a value proposition to the end [or] the beginning of a mission objective to the sort of ultimate mission objective. Along that value chain, people sort of talk up the chain and down the chain. [When] everybody does that, suddenly you have this very linked chain. We saw that, for example, in retail apparel. Those are very linked value chains, from the textile manufacturer to the retailer and all the cut and sew and everything in between. Then, after they got this linear chain linked up, over time as it matured, it began to actually look more like a little bit of a network, not just linear.

That’s the other way this could form within the federal government — we’ll find a chain of mission. Again, I’m making these examples up, but [if] you think about the whole immigration and customs [situation]. You’ve got Customs and Border Protection and Immigration, Customs Enforcement and [Citizenship and Immigration Services] — they’re within DHS. So, CBP, ICE and CIS — and then maybe the State Department — if you think of that as a value chain along immigration and the ability for them to create links. . . . That would be a very natural set of trust zones that they could create and create this community that would then find expression in, undoubtedly in the rest of the federal law enforcement [community], if not state and local and tribal law enforcement.

That’s the idea of the emergence of community clouds — two ways that they could emerge: around a hub and around a value chain; examples in the federal government that are very prospective at this point, but one can hope; and then the punchline is, even if i just say Defense, Intelligence and civilian. . . . Those represent enough critical mass that they could achieve the economies of scale so that the cost per machine image or the cost per gigabyte of storage become competitive with public services, which then removes the last issue or objection around security and privacy, because now I’m back within the single trust zone.”