The Transportation Security Administration is looking for suggestions from cloud providers on how their services could support the agency’s employee systems, according to FCW. The agency is looking for support to its Technology Infrastructure Modernization division’s IT system, which vets employees, as well as the TSA’s move to more virtualized services in general. The TSA posted an information request on the website FedBizOpps earlier this week, asking for a private sector cloud-based disaster recovery services provider to offer solutions to back up the TIM system in case of an emergency or natural disaster.

The agency is seeking feedback from the private sector on available services and solutions in the aim of achieving efficient IT reliability, interoperability and improvement in secure, end-to-end performance. TIM’s system has achieved its initial operating capability within the Department of Homeland Security’s Data Center 1, and the agency is evaluating its disaster recovery options.

The TIM system communicates internally with other TSA networks and systems as well as externally with other national transportation organizations, including the Coast Guard and airports, using Oracle Exadata. The TSA system is one of many federal data sharing programs pushing for more open engagement between departments and organizations, such as the Department of Defense’s Joint Information Exchange. As the data being used and shared continues to grow, the need for disaster recovery solutions and real-time backup capabilities are increasingly necessary.

Other federal agencies switch to cloud
The TSA is the most recent in a long list of government agencies making the transition to cloud platforms in the last few years, and the practice is quickly becoming the norm for data storage and services. Recently, the General Services Administration, Department of the Interior, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Defense, as well as many others, have all move forward with implementing cloud-computing solutions.

According to Federal Times, more than 25 percent of applications globally will be available in the cloud by 2016. Currently, almost 85 percent of new software is being built specifically to function in the cloud. Governmental agencies are realizing that the cloud offers the security and reliability they need at a fraction of the cost of on-site servers.

“Advancements in cloud data storage by commercial sector vendors have enabled other federal government agencies to store data at a fraction of the cost of physical data centers,” said Michael Hartigan, spokesperson for Rep. Niki Tsongas who introduced a cloud computing security bill earlier this year.

Safety and mobility with private cloud
Dedicated cloud platforms ensure sensitive data is protected while still allowing information to be mobile, flexible and accessible. With a private cloud solution, only data belonging to a specific organization is stored on the servers, creating greater security and peace of mind.

Public cloud platforms store multiple groups’ data together in one place, increasing the chances of a security breach. Decisions on how the information is stored can also be more difficult, as all affected parties have to agree on a change before it can be made.  With only one agency’s information being stored in a private cloud, decisions on infrastructure, capacity and protection are all solely made by the owner.

Applications and services that utilize the cloud are still easily available with a private solution, and are made safer for employees and organizations by being self-contained, with no public-facing sites. Dedicated cloud solutions are a reliable and convenient solution for government agencies, or private companies, concerned about data safety, mobility and accessibility.