The Transportation Security Administration wants to move into a hybrid cloud environment to change the agency’s approach to a service-based IT approach.

Cloud capabilities are important for the TSA’s mission going forward, the agency wrote, noting in an Oct. 2 posting on FedBizOpps for its second cloud strategy that “cloud computing will impact not only every aspect of IT, but also the operations of TSA.”

According to the 16-page document, the TSA will establish a “cloud team” that will serve as the agency’s point on all aspects of the TSA cloud programs. It will govern the architecture and security, in addition to several other aspects, such as technology training, vendor management and operational services.

“TSA’s plans to implement Advanced Passenger Screening capabilities are dependent on the ability to collect and analyze large amounts of data. Therefore, elasticity of storage and computing capability available through cloud solutions is essential to success,” TSA wrote.

The agency said that it will use “Cloud Smart” strategy released earlier this summer for existing applications with critical systems and the Obama administration’s “Cloud First" strategy for all new IT services. Cloud Smart provides guidance to make sure agencies are making practical decision in what they move to the cloud, while Cloud First directed agencies to consider cloud before other options.

With its move to the hybrid cloud, the agency wants to increase security and performance at a reduced cost. The agency plans to use the cloud to ween off of its legacy systems and modernize the systems used by the TSA.

“Adoption of software services hosted in the cloud, or development of applications that are written to take advantage of the scalability and flexibility of the cloud, are needed to replace and modernize these legacy applications,” the strategy says.

The TSA wrote that it intends to use software-as-a-service as its “primary” approach to cloud applications. The TSA will also use infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service “when necessary.”

“If an existing TSA cloud vendor SaaS solution meets the operational/mission need, TSA will use it,” the TSA wrote.

As for requirements, the TSA will mandate an open architecture to avoid a reliance on a single cloud provider.

“The use of open architectures avoids reliance on a single vendor, reduces the risk of technology shifts, lowers total cost of ownership and leverages a wide base of industry expertise in hardware, software and services,” TSA wrote.

The TSA also recognized a skills gap within its workforce in its move to the cloud. The TSA wrote that the move to the cloud will reduce the need for IT hardware management but increase the need within the agency for programming. Agency acquisition staff will also need additional skills to keep pace with quickly developing technologies.

Andrew Eversden covered all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. Beforehand, he reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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