FedRAMP Q&A: ‘Evangelist’ Ashley Mahan Shares Her Thoughts on Cloud

Ashley Mahan can add “evangelist” to her resume.

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) named her its “agency evangelist” on Oct. 21.

Mahan’s familiarity with Federal IT and cloud computing make her an obvious choice to spread the gospel of cloud computing and sing FedRAMP’s praises to an increasingly receptive congregation of Federal chief information officers.

Mahan, who has supported the FedRAMP Program Management Office as an Information Security Officer since 2014, sees significant opportunities to boost adoption of cloud computing across the Federal government.

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MeriTalk was the first news outlet to report the announcement of Mahan’s appointment.

FedRAMP411 last week caught up with Mahan, who offered her thoughts on FedRAMP, cloud computing, and the importance of her new role.

FedRAMP411: How do you feel about being an agency evangelist?

Mahan: This is an incredible opportunity. The FedRAMP team has done remarkable work under Matt Goodrich’s leadership. I want to spread the word about FedRAMP and make sure everyone understands how it benefits their agency and the public. Cloud computing offers significant benefits to government agencies–it’s cost effective, flexible, and fast. FedRAMP helps agencies realize those benefits. Over the past few years, agencies have more than doubled their spending on cloud technologies and the total number of systems being used in the cloud is growing just as fast. I want to make sure agencies make this move intelligently and ensure the systems they use are appropriately secured through FedRAMP.

FedRAMP411: What’s the most important thing you can accomplish in your new role?

Mahan: I want to increase agency engagement in order to fully realize the benefits of FedRAMP and cloud technologies. I want to have every agency actively engaged and implementing FedRAMP as they use cloud services.

FedRAMP411: How do you achieve that?

Mahan: We have to help agencies overcome their unique obstacles to cloud technology adoption. Some agencies may lack information on the available cloud services. Some agencies might not get FISMA and FedRAMP. Some agencies may need assistance defining their unique requirements or understanding appropriate contract vehicles. Others may have migration or integration concerns. Whatever the issue, I plan to assist the information flow to overcome those obstacles. I am here to help carve a path forward for successful cloud adoption.

FedRAMP411: What do you see as your primary hurdle?

Mahan: One of the biggest obstacles to accelerating cloud adoption is ensuring cloud computing solutions are secure. FedRAMP is charged with this undertaking. The FedRAMP requirements and framework for authorizing cloud environments allow Federal agencies to safely and securely use the cloud. However, each agency is unique and has differing IT needs; there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. In this new role, my challenge is to understand the needs of our agency customers, identify common solution approaches, and facilitate agency-specific solutions to their challenges.

FedRAMP411: Do you see any of the anxiety or hesitation that agencies have over cloud computing beginning to dissipate?

Mahan: I do–but there’s still a lot and I want to help eliminate it. In 2014, GAO identified that more than 98 percent of Federal IT spending was on legacy IT systems. We need this to change to become a more modern, agile government. I’m going to push FedRAMP and help agencies understand how the cloud enables their mission of serving the American public. I am thrilled to take on this challenge in my new role as the FedRAMP Agency Evangelist.

Bill Glanz
About Bill Glanz
Bill Glanz is the content director for MeriTalk and its Exchange communities. Over the past 14 years, he has worked as a business reporter, press secretary, and media relations director in Washington, D.C.
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