Jeff Bergeron, HP’s U.S. Public Sector chief technology officer, is at the forefront of HP’s cloud computing initiative. Recently, GovCon Executive caught up with Jeff to discuss how government agencies are receiving cloud computing.
GovCon Executive: Tell us a little about HP’s cloud strategy.
Jeff Bergeron: HP’s cloud strategy is actually centered around four distinct pillars that we are bringing to market. It’s in the area of transform, build, consume and manage/secure. Manage/secure being in one bucket. Within each one of these pillars, that we’re bringing to market, HP is delivering capabilities in each one. If we start with transform, our recent announcement around government cloud consulting services provides the ability for us to work with clients on transforming into cloud services. It’s a consultative engagement where we work with clients to define the transformational roadmap to get to the adoption of cloud services. We view it as an evolutionary journey that needs to take place within enterprise. It’s not a big bang approach. Not, ‘I’m in a dedicated IT environment today, and I’m going to automatically switch to cloud services tomorrow.’ It has to be a defined journey of how that’s achieved. Under the transform, we’ve launched government cloud consulting, where we host a series of cloud discovery workshops to help define that roadmap of transformation. All the while, keeping in mind the need for the building blocks in order to achieve that. So, it is incremental steps to move into cloud services for enterprises.
GovCon Executive: Your division’s focus is mostly on government clients?
Jeff Bergeron: That’s right, at least from my perspective. I’m the chief technology officer for U.S. Public Sector HP.
GovCon Executive: Are you finding that the government is sort of serving as an early adopter of cloud technology? Are they receptive to the idea? How are they handling it?
Jeff Bergeron: I would say they’re certainly, in some aspects, at the forefront of cloud adoption. Budgetary constraints, economic triggers and financial constraints have led them toward the ability to better manage IT costs. One of the guiding principles is that cloud can enable you to do that. They are one of the early adopters, and we’re starting to see more and more trending toward cloud service adoption within the marketplace as well.
GovCon Executive: Besides the pillars, what are you doing to encourage agencies to move to the cloud? Once you introduce the concept, what besides the pillars are you doing?
Jeff Bergeron: I think some of it is being mandate driven from the 25 point memo that came out from OMB and Vivek about the cloud-first strategy for the federal government. A lot of the discussion has been influenced by that strategic plan laid out by OMB. Clients are looking to move certain business functions into the cloud, so it’s interesting how dialogues occur. It could be HP bringing ideas to clients of cloud adoption, or it could be clients contacting us to talk about how they are going to achieve what they need to do. A lot of it falls into the realm of financial and cost savings. As you move into multitenant shared environments, whether it be public or private cloud models, clients are looking for solutions by which they can better manage their IT budget. Dialogues have been occurring, even before the 25 point memo, of clients looking to move into these types of models.
GovCon Executive: What projects do you consider ideal for this new system?
Jeff Bergeron: If you look at the trends in the market today, there has been an increased velocity associated with the migration to email and collaboration cloud services. There have been several awards that have been announced. There are several dialogues with clients going on specifically around that space. Obviously, email is a cornerstone of enterprise and agency operations. In some cases, it can be very costly to manage and maintain. It makes it a very natural fit for the evolution into a services based consumption model by looking at first email and collaboration services. We’re seeing a definite trending toward adoption of those types of services within cloud procurements.
GovCon Executive: That leads me to the big question of security.
Jeff Bergeron: Security is a major issue. In fact, it’s our viewpoint that it has been a barrier to adoption within the public sector market today. In some ways it’s a perception, and in other ways there are some true realities, depending on what aspect of the government you’re talking to. Information security has always been at the cornerstone of any approach to IT solutions, and cloud being one of them. One of the things that HP brings to the table is, not only our experience that we’ve had for the past 40 plus years of being the stewards and managers of government information, but understanding how that applies to cloud. Our fundamental approach has been the combination of our security services, specifically in the areas of cyber security, along with our cloud strategy to the market.
GovCon Executive: For agencies and clients interested in or thinking about cloud, what advice would you give them?
Jeff Bergeron: The advice that I do give clients is to ensure that it is an incremental journey, and it needs to be well planned and well executed as you migrate. If we put it in the context of email, being able to seamlessly move into the environment, not negatively impacting mission operations because we all know how critical email can be, and the ability to collaborate and share ideas and even just notify people. So, seamlessly being able to transform into that environment, being able to successfully migrate information and data into that environment, and also ensuring that that information is secure going forward. We try to emphasize that it isn’t a kind of flip the switch, and you’re using cloud services tomorrow. It is an incremental journey that needs to be defined in order to migrate into those types of environments.
GovCon Executive: I understand that HP is at the forefront of this. As far as other companies, do you find that there is competition?
Jeff Bergeron: I think that within any market you have healthy competition. We’ve seen new entrants into the federal market and into the public sector market. I think that within any market there is the competition that’s there. As I mentioned, the new entrance that we’ve seen in the past 12 to 18 months entering into the market, I think help bring a healthy balance to the capabilities that commercial companies can bring to the public sector.
GovCon Executive: What about HP makes your cloud services better?
Jeff Bergeron: I would say in the areas of our knowledge that has been gained. Keep in mind that HP acquired EDS a couple of years ago. EDS was founded in the public sector space, so for 40 plus, almost 50 years, we have been dealing with government agencies, and being the stewards of their information in a very secure way. We bring that knowledge and expertise to the public-sector market coupled with our knowledge and expertise around cloud to bring a more robust solution to the market.
GovCon Executive: Backtracking a little for the layperson. What exactly is cloud computing? How would you describe it?
Jeff Bergeron: We define it, and there are definitions all over the industry but we try to summarize it, into five key characteristics when one’s trying to define what cloud services are. We can talk about each one of these, but in some ways they are self explanatory. One of the characteristics of cloud is multitenant; the ability to have multiple consumers in a single environment securely. The next is pay-per-use; I only pay for what I consume. If I’m not consuming something, I’m not paying for it. If I am, of course I am paying for it. That helps me control my financials as well. The third one is on-demand. Cloud services should truly be self-service on-demand, meaning I can provision and deprovision something with little to, hopefully, no human interaction to do so. I can be able to consume a service within a matter of seconds or minutes, versus a matter of weeks and months. The fourth one being elasticity, meaning that the environment can ebb and flow based on consumption demand, and being able to expand and contract associated with that demand, and on demand without individuals having to install servers for example. The last one being it’s networked. Its ubiquitous access across either the internet or some type of intranet, but being able to have 24/7 access to the services if and when I need them. That kind of helps from a traditional IT environment. If you think about traditional IT and traditional IT outsourcing, the majority of that is truly not on-demand. It’s not truly multitenant. Typically, environments are dedicated to a particular enclave or a particular customer. In some regards, depending on the architecture, it is rigid. There are different characteristics, so we define them in those 5 core categories of what defines cloud.
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