NASA's move to the cloud saves $1 million a year

NASA's move to the cloud saves $1 million a year

Summary: The CIO of NASA, Linda Cureton, says the U.S. space agency has saved almost a million dollars by moving IT infrastructure to the cloud. It has closed 20 datacenters so far.

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TOPICS: Nasa / Space
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The CIO of NASA, the U.S. space agency, said on Friday that her organization estimates that it's saved almost a million dollars over the year after it moved several of its applications to the cloud.

Linda Cureton wrote in a blog post that NASA moved some of its enterprise infrastructure to Amazon Web Services after setting out to become more efficient and improve economies of scale, integration, goal alignment, security, oversight, and accountability.

"This cloud-based model supports a wide variety of web applications and sites using an interoperable, standards-based, and secure environment while providing almost a million dollars in cost savings each year," she wrote.

That's not a decision taken lightly for a government agency.

She also shared recent cloud-based ventures for NASA:

  • NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory uploaded 250,000 pictures of Mars onto a Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform. The goal: engage the American people in space exploration. "The cloud can be a terrific way to reach and engage the public and support STEM activities in our schools," she wrote.
  • NASA is now deploying SERVIR, which integrates satellite and ground-based data with forecast models to monitor environmental changes and improve global response to natural disasters, to a cloud-based geospatial IT infrastructure.

The agency has also been working to improve transparency into its IT operations. It has deployed centrally-managed end-user services, communications services, web services and enterprise application management and development capabilities. It also launched a central business office and working capital fund to support several major IT contracts.

All said and done, NASA has closed 20 datacenters as it consolidates and optimizes its IT operations.

There's plenty more going on, and I encourage you to read her original post. As Cureton wrote in 2011, NASA "must continue on our path to become a more outcome-focused IT organization." It looks like the agency is well on its way.

Topic: Nasa / Space

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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10 comments
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  • Why do they bother?

    1 million dollars for NASA is pocket change, I wouldn't risk security to save only that much...
    lepoete73
    • Security?

      Ya, because the cloud is just a free for all and anybody can access anything there. Furthermore, your servers are more secure because your smarter and more knowledgeable to engineers at Amazon. I'm sure they are configured to prevent *any* attack. lol
      butter44
      • yep, security... ;)

        Do not you think that local datacenter can be just turned of from the Internet in case of attack? Is there such option with Amazon?
        dzysyak
  • Just to the Cloud?

    That's the problem with NASA today; today, they can only get to the Cloud. In the sixties, they went all the way to the Moon.
    jamesonwilliams
  • Budget Savings?

    Nasa's 2012 budget is approx $18B, yes billion, so $1M is nice, we'll take it, but nothing to write home about. Keep this in perspective, $18B is about a month's worth of what were spending in Iraq during the war. Lovely.
    bmountain
    • I agree

      Your comment is spot on. $1M against a $18B budget? They need to seriously rethink what they are doing.
      jdsonice
  • I built a cloud for NASA

    The Annual NASA budget is about 19 billion. However, they have a hell of a lot going on. That money has to support a plethora of ongoing deep space projects, as well as planning and development of future projects. PLUS analyzing the data they have. Upkeep of data and facilities, new facilities, staff... etc. That big number cuts cut to ribbons again and again before it gets to a point where someone can spend it. An extra million dollars is nothing to sneeze at. It's the difference between research getting a go and not getting a go. The potential gains are incalculable.

    That being said. NASA collapsed its own cloud internally. Which makes this post fairly ironic. While the rest of the industry is adopting their software, they themselves are shutting it down due to a lack of funding. And even while claiming increased savings. Really confusing stuff.
    mattdjoyce
  • cloud

    Is this a joke? The CIO should be fired!!! A multiple billion dollar budget and this is what they come up with! Be serious... At this point NASA is irrelevant. What a shame... Whole thing should be shut down.
    drodrigues
  • This is a positive message about cloud security

    Regardless of the miniscule savings (compared to NASA's budget), this move sends a message to all those enterprises and govenment agencies who were paranoid about putting their data up in the cloud. If NASA can do it, why can't they?
    jaykayess
  • Save $1M here, spend $18M there

    After 18 years, this will pay for the recovery.gov site! Recovery.gov cost $18 Million!

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2009/07/18m-being-spent-to-redesign-recoverygov-web-site/
    EdHayes3