Managing millions of users requires the strength of the cloud
October 9, 2013

Anyone who's stood in line at the DMV knows that government services are regularly not fast or convenient. Often, citizens must take time out of their day when engaging with a federal program, and online access to some initiatives may be limited or unavailable. Because there are only so many people to manage the entire population of a country, bottlenecks can result. As technology, data processing and security measures improve, though, federal agencies can overcome many of the challenges that have affected their performance over the years. 

Flexible resources through the cloud
Of course, many service delays could be avoided by building the infrastructure and automation needed for more Web-based registration and assistance. Enabling citizens to perform certain tasks at home greatly increases convenience. Additionally, cloud-based services provide more capability and flexibility than the typical work force allows – when demand spikes, a cloud host can draw on more resources to maintain performance speed and handle a greater volume of traffic. 

So as the United States government moves to improve its online services and identity management through the Federal Cloud Credential Exchange (FCCX), HP Enterprises Services will be providing the cloud-based hosting necessary for the program, as noted by FCW. The company was selected by SecureKey Technologies, the business chosen to create the infrastructure for the initiative. 

One of the reasons that the HP Enterprises Services Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) for U.S. Public Sector was chosen was because of its ability to meet Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) requirements. For companies to meet FedRAMP standards, they must be able to perform consistently across multiple agencies, which will be key to the FCCX program. Departmental silos are one of the issues that the FCCX should solve, but the better that a platform can integrate with current systems, the easier FCCX will be to implement. 

"HP is committed to supporting federal cloud computing initiatives like USPS' innovative implementation of FCCX by delivering enterprise solutions that are built with security and flexibility in mind," said Marilyn Crouther, senior vice president and general manager of U.S. Public Sector at HP Enterprise Services, to FCW. 

The VPC will host SecureKey's exchange application, which will provide the multi-factor authentication tools that will eventually be involved in the FCCX initiative. 

Solving identity management problems
Once instituted, the FCCX should solve some of the security problems involved in centralizing citizen information and authenticating their identities. Departmentalization and the need for face-to-face interaction arguably minimizes security issues. By limiting the amount of information that an attacker can access, citizens are better protected. However, new safeguards should enhance convenience without exposing sensitive records. 

FCW also reported that In-house identity management systems are often expensive. FCCX will provide greater economy of scale and, because the chosen VPC is a pay-as-you-use platform, the government can avoid upfront costs and only purchase the resources that they actually use, rather than potentially losing millions of dollars on servers among different departments. FCW previously reported that the Internal Revenue System alone could save $300 million annually by adopting the management system. 

The program remains in its preliminary stages, but when it begins, FCCX will improve online identity management and access to the United States Postal Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. FCW also noted that the IRS, Department of Education and Social Security Administration may also be involved when the pilot launches.