Less than six months into her tenure as the Department of Veterans Affairs’ chief information security officer, Roopangi Kadakia has been tasked to lead the agency’s cloud efforts. Dominic Cussatt will take over as acting CISO, according to an internal agency memo obtained by MeriTalk.

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Companies that get the most financial benefits from cloud adoption all carry certain characteristics, a survey from CloudHealth Technologies found.

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Oracle announced that it will open six new cloud startup accelerator programs for companies around the world. Oracle will begin programs in Bristol, England; Delhi–NCR, India; Mumbai, India; Paris; São Paulo, and Singapore, as well as Tel Aviv, which MeriTalk previously reported.

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IBM has been awarded a cloud solution contract by the U.S. Army potentially worth $62 million over five years, to build, manage, and operate a cloud for the Army’s Redstone Arsenal.

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Oracle, a U.S.-based company, began a new program in Israel to promote startup cloud computing companies. Oracle will look for five companies later this year to participate in the program that includes six months of mentoring, new technology, a co-working space, access to Oracle’s customers and partners, and free Oracle Cloud credits.

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Microsoft announced that its Azure and Office 365 cloud service became the first commercial cloud to be awarded Impact Level 5 DoD Provisional Authorization by the Defense Information Systems Agency, which allows the cloud to store the most sensitive, controlled, unclassified information. Microsoft also announced general availability of the service to all validated Department of Defense customers.

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General Dynamics Information Technology is on a mission–to help agencies make sense of cloud computing. Cloud migration can be challenging–agencies are constrained by regulations, pressed by tight budgets, and limited by legacy systems. But, those anxieties don’t need to stifle innovation.

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The merger of the two leading FedRAMP third-party assessment organizations is raising significant concerns about the ability of small and midsized businesses to compete for Federal cloud contracts. Coalfire, the No. 2 FedRAMP 3PAO, announced last month it has acquired Veris Group, the leading provider of the mandatory security assessments for cloud service providers that want to sell their products and services to Federal agencies.

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Education on how Federal programs can best use the cloud is going to pick up this year as agencies continue the transition away from legacy IT, according to Rob Morrow, public sector chief technology officer at Cloudera.

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The need for mobility and security has propelled cloud adoption forward, but agencies are still trying to figure out what to do with it, according to Sonu Singh, president and chief executive officer of 1901 Group. “IT in the government is going to change more in the next five years than the past 30 years,” Singh said at MeriTalk’s Cloud Connect 2016 event on Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C.

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The speed of government cloud adoption and authorization is both good and bad, depending on which agency is asked, according to panelists at Dell EMC World. “Some of the slowness works to our advantage,” said Annette Moore, acting director and acting CIO at the NASA Johnson Space Center. “In instances it certainly does not.”

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When the cloud houses many single applications that aren’t designed to work with other servers, it can indicate communication problems within government agencies. The Small Business Administration uses the same application on two different cloud networks. “Two offices that never talk to each other, they’re doing the same thing,” said Maria Roat, chief information officer at the SBA, who spoke at Cloud Connect on Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C. “The problem right now is the cloud is really siloed.”

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The U.S. Air Force is talking to Congress about starting a multiyear, replenishable fund for cloud computing, according to Frank Konieczny, the chief technology officer of the Office of Information Dominance and chief information officer of the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Air Force.

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Though many agencies want to, or are mandated to, move applications onto Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) tools, Dustin Laun says that agencies should be more deliberate in determining what they need from a platform provider. “I feel the government buys off of paper and presentations, and they don’t really know how simple these things are,” said Laun, contracted senior adviser for innovation and technology at the FCC.

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Tony Summerlin, who helped write FedRAMP, said he envisioned the program as a much quicker and sleeker version of what it is today. He says speed is one of the biggest challenges to Federal initiatives across the board, not just in the application of FedRAMP.

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Over the past few years, many government agencies have turned from doubting and distrusting the cloud to fully embracing its potential, according to Microsoft executives.

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Recent cloud adoptions have enabled government agencies, both on the Federal and state and local levels, to process data much faster than before, and those cloud services are becoming easier to get, according to panelists at the Microsoft Government Cloud Forum.

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Microsoft on Tuesday announced new advancements to its government cloud offerings, which will expand its ability to store Department of Defense data and increase the number of regions in which their data centers are available.

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Verizon announced on Thursday the release of their Verizon Global Enterprise IT Management (GEITM) service, which is designed to provide a unified framework through which CIOs can have visibility into their entire infrastructure’s operations.

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