The US General Services Administration (GSA) has released long-awaited details on a standardized program that is expected to smooth the way for the federal government's move to the cloud.
The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, is viewed as a standard method of approving cloud-based services and ensuring they meet rigorous security requirements. Security risks are one of the main stumbling blocks for government agencies to make the move to a cloud-based solution.
Agencies now have more information about how to put these services to the test. If a cloud computing service can make it through the FedRAMP authorization process, it gets a seal of approval for all federal agencies. Previously, every agency did its own authorization, often duplicating tests that had already been done, so this system is expected to be more efficient.
In fact, FedRAMP could save federal agencies between 30 and 40 percent on security assessments and cloud procurement processes, according to Steven Van Roekel, Chief Information Officer for the federal government, InformationWeek reported. He calls it a "do-once, use-many-times framework."
Tools known as "infrastructure as a service" would go first. These include remote e-mail, storage, and networking.
FedRAMP is not yet mandatory, but the forty-seven-page concept of operations document, released February 7, 2012, provides detail on how the authorization process will work. For example, a joint authorization board, consisting of the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and GSA, will do initial security assessments. DHS will monitor security compliance and respond to security incidents, and GSA will oversee the whole process, Nextgov reported.
According to the document, FedRAMP's "initial operational capabilities" will be launched in June and will ramp up into next fiscal year.
So far, White House officials have said FedRAMP won't apply to sensitive national security data stored in a federal cloud, but it may in the future. "I think eventually FedRAMP might be applicable to high-impact systems, but I don't see that happening any time soon," Katie Lewin, Director of Federal Cloud Computing at GSA, told POLITICO. "It's not something I'd be looking for . . . for at least a year."
Companies that make the grade will be listed as authorized government-wide providers on the FedRAMP website. Get more details at FedRAMP