Cloud in Government: Promise and Practice

Sitting on the panel were Leo Garciga, J6 chief and chief technology officer at the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency; Navin Vembar, director of the IT integrated award environment division at the General Services Administration; John Willis, director of ecosystem development at Docker; and Nirmal Mehta, chief technologist of the strategic innovation group at Booz Allen Hamilton.

“I think you’re watching in DoD, a really good adoption,” Garciga said. “Moving stuff to milCloud and really more on the IC side moving towards C2S. I think we all recognize that there are a lot of advantages for us and it is saving us a considerable amount of money moving in this direction.” Garciga added that while adoption might be slower in DoD at the moment, he’s confident the adoption rate will rise to between 80 and 100 percent in the long-term.

Vembar offered the perspective of GSA, which is a provider of shared services for the federal government.

“We’re seeing a lot of demand that is not necessarily yet meeting supply,” he said. “We’re still working through ‘How do we get all of this stuff to people they way they want it and the way that’s secured for them that’s necessary to meet all the standards of the federal government as we go forward?’ But I think the demand is a very heartening thing to see, that people actually want to make this move, that it’s a valuable thing to them.”

Willis also sees the demand for cloud in government rising.

“Although I don’t work directly in government, I’ve been tracking government uses,” Willis said. “And I think there is this element of government agencies that want to move fast.” He agreed with Vembar that the motivation for adoption is increasingly influenced by the technological benefits, specifically the operational efficiencies and speed that cloud provides.

Mehta then broke down cloud adoption into three groups.

“There are the early adopters, such as GSA and JIDA, and other organizations that have really embraced the velocity and the speed and cost savings that cloud provides,” Mehta said. “There are some fence-sitters that are waiting for those organizations to move forward and adopt the best practices that they’re trailblazing. And then there are the server-huggers, and the server-huggers are really the core group that will get the advantages of not only cloud, but containerization, DevOps, and they have the ability to leap-frog all the way to that.”

The panelists went on to address reasons why agencies on the fence or even resistant to cloud should consider making the switch, the cultural challenges that exist with cloud and DevOps adoption in government, the advantages of leveraging containerization and microservices across government, and trends that will emerge in 2016 and beyond.



Jason FornicolaJason Fornicola, Director of Custom Media, Federal News Radio

Jason Fornicola joined WTOP and Federal News Radio in February of 2014 as the Director of Custom Media, where he manages the stations’ sponsored and custom content initiatives. Fornicola provides clients with access to high-quality content consistent with the stations’ standard of excellence and works to solve clients’ needs through a multi-platform approach which includes on-air, digital, video and social media. His journalism and social media experience support the stations’ efforts to ensure the client message is conveyed in a way that will achieve their marketing campaign objectives.


Leonel T. Garciga, J6 Chief / Chief Technology Officer Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency (JIDA)

Mr. Garciga is the Joint Improvised Threat Defeat Agency (JIDA) J6 Chief and Chief Technology Officer. In these roles, he provides technical leadership, oversight and direction for mission and enterprise information technology planning, research, development, experimentation, validation, acquisition, accreditation and application of future information technology programs, architectures and capabilities within JIDA.  His expertise enables the rapid integration of cutting-edge technology for counter-IED and counter threat network operations and intelligence support to a myriad of missions for the Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. national security.

Mr. Garciga is also the technical advisor to the JIDA Director and his senior staff and serves as the JIDA technical lead and information technology integrator to the DoD, Intelligence Community, S&T community, U.S. government interagency, coalition partners, non-governmental organizations, academia and industry.   In this capacity, he serves as JIDA’s technology ambassador through engagements and collaboration on information technology innovation and emerging technologies.


Navin VembarNavin Vembar, Director, GSA IT Integrated Award Environment Division, General Services Administration

Dr. Navin Vembar is the IT Director for the Integrated Award Environment in the General Services Administration. He has worked in government as a fed or a contractor for more than 15 years. He is a proponent of open data, open source, and Agile delivery of software, even in larger government programs like the Integrated Award Environment. He believes both the reality and perception of government IT can change more quickly than anyone expects.


john willisJohn Willis, Director of Ecosystem Development, Docker

John Willis is a Director of Ecosystem Development for Docker, which he joined after the company he co-founded (SocketPlane, which focused on SDN for containers) was acquired by Docker in March 2015.  Previous to founding SocketPlane in Fall 2014, John was the Chief DevOps Evangelist at Dell, which he joined following the Enstratius acquisition in May 2013. He has also held past executive roles at Opscode/Chef and Canonical/Ubuntu. John is the author of seven IBM Redbooks and is co-author of the “Devops Handbook” along with authors Gene Kim and Jez Humble.   The best way to reach John is through his twitter handle @botchagalupe.


Nirmal Mehta headshotNirmal Mehta, Chief Technologist, Strategic Innovation Group, Booz Allen Hamilton

Mr. Mehta is a Chief Technologist in the Strategic Innovations Group at Booz Allen. He specializes in research, implementation and integration of emerging technologies to organizations in the federal government. Mr. Mehta leads the firm’s efforts in containerization and distributed application architectures, and is a thought leader in DevOps. He is passionate about open source, containerization, cloud automation, DevOps, data center transformation and integrating open-source software to push the capabilities of future IT infrastructure. Mr. Mehta focuses on bringing leading edge technologies to enterprise systems for commercial and public sector clients. Currently he is working on General Services Administration Integrated Award Environment Common Service Platform and implementing DevOps architectures utilizing Docker, Chef, AWS, Red Hat, Mesosphere, Github, and Jenkins in support of an innovative open source based platform.

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