IT Cloud Proposal for the U.S. Department of Energy

ITCloud Proposal for the U.S. Department of Energy


Cloudcomputing help organizations increase their visibility without theneed for purchasing and installing their own infrastructure, but manyorganizations have not taken this advantage. The U.S. Department ofEnergy was founded in 1977, and it has been trying to use technologyto increase its capacity to store and handle the growing amount ofdata from its laboratories. However, DOE has been focusing onpurchasing its own infrastructures, such as the mainframe computers,supercomputers, and datacenters. DOE can reduce the cost implicationsof handling the large amount of data by adopting the cloud computing.Microsoft Azure IaaS is a platform that is highly scalable andflexible, and therefore, suitable for DOE. The BMI Bluemix is anothercloud computing option that can help DOE in developing customizedapplications. However, Microsoft Azure IaaS is more appropriate forDOE because it can help the department meet the emerging challengesand expand its data handling capacity without the need to buy newinfrastructure.

Keywords: Cloud computing, ownership cost, virtualization, scalability,datacenters, flexibility, servers.

ITCloud Proposal for the U.S. Department of Energy

Cloudcomputing is relatively a new concept in the field of computing giventhe fact that the term cloud has been in use for nearly a singledecade. Cloud computing technology is a viable solution to theescalating cost of doing business in the contemporary economicenvironment. According to Department of Energy (2014) cloud computingreduces the cost of facilitating computational operations inorganizations because it is based on the concept of shared utility ofcomputing resources. This is accomplished by effective deployment ofgroups of remote servers as well as software networks with theobjective of facilitating the centralized storage of organizationaldata and online access of that data to computer resources orservices. In such a system, individual organizations do not need topurchase or install their own facilities for them to be able to storeand access their data from different branches, but they only need tooutsource the service from the cloud computing service providers.This paper will address the current IT environment at DOE, analyzethe IaaS and PaaS solutions, and make the recommendation for DOE outthe two available alternatives. Microsoft Azure IaaS is the mostappropriate solution that can help DOE to adopt cloud computing, outof the three solutions, including non-cloud, Microsoft Azure IaaS,and IBM Bluemix platform.


Although,cloud computing gives a promise of the many benefits to organizationsoperating in the modern economic and business environment, manyorganizations (including the government agencies and departments) arestill using the old and expensing servers and data centers. The DOEis among the government agencies that have been spending large sumsof money to purchase and install its own servers in order to satisfyits desire for safe storage and faster retrieval of the large amountof data it collects from different states. The U.S. Departments ofEnergy was founded in 1977, and its head office is located inWashington, DC (Department of Energy, 2014). One of the key mandatesof the Energy Department is to conduct research and studies indifferent areas, such as energy saving, climate change, andutilization of energy, all of which results in gathering of largeamounts of data from different locations. Over the years, DOE hasmade significant milestones with regard to the adoption of the latesttechnology that can increase efficiency in its operations.

Datacentersand servers at DOE

Theadministration of the U.S. Departments of Energy believes inpossessing and controlling their own data storage facilities, whichhas huge financial implications for the department and the governmentat large. Since 1978, DOE has relied on its mainframe computers tostore data and access it using for different purposes, including theanalysis of millions of energy audits (Boscamp, 2011). Thedepartments have been focusing more on the process of upgrading theexisting system of data storage additional costs instead of divertingattention to recent developments such as the use of IaaS and PaaSplatforms to enhance the process of data storage and access at areduced cost. DOE develops different data centers in laboratoriesthat are located in different states. For example, the NRELLaboratory and all National Technology Laboratory Centers have theirown data centers (Sheppy, Labato &amp Donovan, 2011). These datacenters are used for the storage of data collected by each individuallaboratory or research center.

AlthoughDOE has managed to establish data centers and servers, the process ofretrieving that data has been a drawback, and has limited itscapacity to make the best use of the data. Initially, DOE used mobilemodems to access data (Boscamp, 2011) to access the data from thedata centers, before upgrading its system to dCache environment. ThedCache environment created for DOE laboratory consists of multipledata storage pool, where each of the pools has its own server and apair of 1 GbE NICs that are bonded together, forming a 2 Gbps link toa specified network (Department of Energy, 2014). In addition, eachserver has a Fiber Channel interface of a direct-attached storage(DAS) type. Prior to the development of the QLogic, DOE increased thestorage pools, which reduced the speed of transferring the data alongthe 2 GbE. This has been a prohibiting factor for the end users ofthe data stored in DOE data centers.


Afterrealizing the drawbacks associated with the dCache, DOE has exploreddifferent alternatives to enhance the processes of data storage andaccesses from different data centers. However, the new options arebeing developed in a few data centers due to financial constraintsand the risk of technology obsolescence. The development of thesupercomputer cluster that is located at the LLNL is one of thelatest achievements for DOE. The supercomputer system costs about 100million dollars, runs on the Linux operating system, and has thecapacity to perform approximately 360 teraflops (Morley, 2009). Theobjective of purchasing and installing the supercomputers was toimprove the speed of retrieving and processing data from the datacenters. In addition, DOE intends to increase its virtualization byinstalling more supercomputers in its data centers.

Thedevelopment of the OpenPower architecture-based server

DOEmade one of its largest purchases in the year 2014 when it acquired aserver that was based on the OpenPower architecture. The server wasbought at a cost of 325 million dollars and it was intended tosupport the department’s CORAL project for labs that are publiclyfunded (Brandon, 2014). The OpenPower-based server has an improvedcapacity for large data applications and enhanced data access speed.The architecture placed the computer power close to the location ofthe data storage centers, which helped DOE in minimizing performanceloss that resulted from the process of moving data forth and backbetween the storage center and the processing center under the former“data-centric” model (Brandon, 2014). The implementation of thisnew type of the data-centric strategy indicated DOE’s intention toshift away from the outdated supercomputer technology that hasfocused in the last one decade.

Solution1: Microsoft Azure IaaS

MicrosoftAzure refers to a platform for cloud computing, which was developedby the Microsoft Corporation. The objectives of developing thisplatform was to facilitate the deployment and the management ofapplications as well as the delivery of cloud services via a globalnetwork of datacenters that are owned and managed by the MicrosoftCorporation (Hauger, 2010). Although Window Azure supports both theVirtual Machine Role (PaaS) and IaaS, the infrastructure as a service(IaaS) provides the best option for cloud services. The IaaS is amongthe major service models used in cloud computing because it helpsusers access the computing resources within a virtualized environmentreferred to as the cloud. In the case of the Microsoft Azure, thecompany facilitates the virtualization of user services by providingthem with virtualized hardware or the computing infrastructure.

Thepool of hardware provided by Azure IaaS is drawn from differentnetworks and servers that are distributed across various datacenters. The cloud provider, the Microsoft Corporation, in this case,is responsible for the maintenance of the infrastructure used tosupport networks and servers (Hauger, 2010). In essence, MicrosoftAzure IaaS is defined by different offerings that include IP address,network connections, virtual server space, bandwidth, and loadbalancer. This set of infrastructures allows the users of IaaS tocreate scalable and cost effective IT solutions for their respectiveorganizations. This implies that an organization with fluctuatingoperations can utilize the IaaS clouding option instead ofpurchasing, integrating and installing these infrastructures. AzureWindows IaaS allow the client to manage their applications, runtime,data, o/s, and middleware, while the provider of these cloud servicemanages virtualization, network, services, and storage (Wong, 2012).

Waysin which Windows Azure IaaS can be utilized at the organizationallevel

Enterprisesthat select IaaS developed by the Microsoft can utilize thevirtualization infrastructure in three major ways. First,organizations can do cloud hosting using the virtual servers that arebased on pooled infrastructure from the underlying physical servers(Chappell, 2011). For example, the organization’s website that ishosted in this type of cloud can gain from redundancy that isprovided by a large number of networks supported by physical serversand utilize the scalability aspect of the infrastructure to cater forunexpected demand. Secondly, Microsoft Azure provides users withvirtual data centers, which means that the organizations do not needto develop their own data centers (Chappell, 2011). This involves theuse of interconnected servers that offer improved cloud hostinginfrastructure and capabilities within a cloud implementation.Lastly, Microsoft Azure provides enterprise infrastructure thatallows organizations to store their data or run their applicationthat are required for daily operations.

HowMicrosoft Azure IaaS works

Organizationscan create a virtual machine using the portal or REST-based Widowsprovided by Windows Azure Management or. Organizations can access theportal using popular browsers, such as Mozilla, Internet Explorer, orChrome (Chappell, 2011). However, REST API requires the use ofscripting tools provided by the Microsoft Corporation for differentoperating systems, including Linux, Windows, and Mancintosh. Once theorganization gets the access to IaaS platform, it selects the virtualhardware disk that will be used for the identification of the virtualmachine’s image. Microsoft gives the enterprises an opportunity toselect the datacenter in which their new virtual machine willoperate. Once the virtual machine is set running, the organizationstarts paying for the number of hours that the machine runs, whichmean that the charges are not, determined by how much theorganization has made use of the virtual machine.

Solution2: IBM Bluemix PaaS

IBMis among the companies operating in the technology industry that havecontributed towards the development of cloud computing in the modernworld. Its platform as a Service known as IBM Bluemix is delivered to clients on what on an open source platform known as the CloudyFoundry (Tomala-Reyes, 2014). The platform delivers enterprise-levelservices and features that can be incorporated into cloudapplications in an easy way. The platform was developed to enable itsusers to develop, set up, and manage applications. The fact thatBluemix is based on the open cloud architecture makes it possible fororganizations to tap into the expanding ecosystem of runtime servicesand frameworks. The primary role of the provider (IBM in this case)is to provide organizations with a dashboard on which they candevelop, view, organize, and manage their services and applicationsand monitor the usage of their application resources.

Featuresand services offered by the IBM Bluemix

IBMBluemix is a dynamic platform that has many features that are usefulfor organizations that need to apply cloud computing in theiroperations. The platform has five major features that help its usersto store and manage their data. First, the BLU Data Warehouse is anagile and powerful platform that businesses can use to enhance theirdata analytics and intelligence (Tomala-Reyes, 2014). Secondly, theData Cache reinforces the data distribution caching setting formobile and web applications. The cache acts as an elastic grid thatstores key-value objectives. The feature of elasticity increases theBluemix’s performance predictability, fault tolerance, andscalability. Third, the Session Cache serves as an elastic grid thatpersists HTTP session and stores the data objects on the grid. Thisensures that the platform users do not lose their data whenever theserver outage occurs. Fourth, the Bluemix has a Mobile Data sectionthat helps the platform users in storing objects that need to bedeveloped and retrieved from the mobile client (Tomala-Reyes, 2014).

TheBluemix has other features that developers can use to createeffective computer clouding components. For example, SQL Database isa component that allows developers to add the online transactionfeatures on their applications (Tomala-Reyes, 2014). This facilitatesthe creation of a database that is fully managed and supported by IBMin its cloud. The JSON Database is a Bluemix feature that allowsdevelopers to develop applications that permit users to insert filesinto their IBM supported database without creating indexes, tables,or collections. Push refers to a Bluemix feature that allowdevelopers to create applications that permit users to send data orinformation to a given mobile device irrespective of whether theapplication is being used or not (Tomala-Reyes, 2014). In essence,Bluemix is a dynamic PaaS framework that gives developers anopportunity to create customized application.

Benefitsand drawbacks of Bluemix to organizations

Applicationsthat are based on the Bluemix platform have four major benefits.First, Bluemix reduces the time required to develop and provisionapplications, which means that the organization can developapplications as and at the time they are needed (IBM, 2014). Thisenhances the quality of the applications because developersconcentrate on other factors (such as efficiency of the application)since the platform has already been provided by IBM. Secondly, thefact that IBM provide organizations with the framework they need todevelop applications ensures that they leverage their resources inefficient ways since they do not need to own the cloud computinginfrastructure. Third, the Bluemix framework ensures thatorganizations can create applications even without the use ofhigh-tech know-how.

TheIBM Bluemix, similar to other PaaS platforms has drawbacks thathinder the maximum realization of desired utility. The platform haslimited flexibility that cannot be matched with the flexibility ofIaaS. This is because PaaS users have limited permission to delete orcreate virtual machines (Harward, 2013). The integration ofapplications developed using the IBM Bluemix platform is complex.This implies that the use of Bluemix-based applications together withother in-house applications and systems becomes increasinglydifficult.


Thispaper recommends the Microsoft Azure IaaS for the U.S. Department ofEnergy, out of the three (Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and thenon-cloud option) that are available. This recommendation is based onthree major benefits associated with the Microsoft Azure IaaS


Subscribingfor Microsoft Azure IaaS will DOE the burden of purchasing expensiveinfrastructure for virtualization, hardware maintenance, replacementof old networking and datacenter equipment (Ebere-Wali, 2014). Inaddition, reduces the number of employees required to develop andmaintain the datacenters and networks. In the case of DOE, there willbe no need to install the supercomputer system that is estimated tocost 100 million dollars or the OpenPower based server that will costabout 325 million dollars (Brandon, 2014).

Flexibilityand scalability

MicrosoftAzure IaaS is highly flexible and allows organizations to scale itdown and up depending on their requirements. In addition, MicrosoftCorporation updates the features of its IaaS to ensure that its usersaccess the most powerful and the latest network and servers thataddress emerging needs of the organizations (Ebere-Wali, 2014). Thisprovides on-demand flexibility as well as scalability of the system,which will allow DOE to respond to emerging opportunities andchallenges in the contemporary environment.


Itwould be expected that DOE should set an example of how organizationsshould reduce the environmental pollution by reducing the amount ofenergy they use to facilitate their operations. However, this canonly be achieved if DOE stops setting its own datacenters that it hasalready reported that they require more energy to run and maintain(Sheppy, Labato &amp Donovan, 2011). The most appropriatealternative is to adopt the Microsoft Azure IaaS, which has virtualdatacenters that DOE can utilize in all its laboratories across thecountry, thus reducing the energy usage and environmentaldegradation.

Figure1: Image of Microsoft Azure IaaS

Source:Business Intelligence (2014)


Cloudcomputing is a technological concept that gives organizations apromise of increased virtualization at reduced cost. DOE is one ofthe government agencies that have failed to make the best applicationof the available technology in enhancing its virtualization. DOE hasmaintained the old culture of purchasing all equipment and facilitiesit requires, while ignoring the idea of joining the cloud. DOE hastwo major alternatives that can help it join the cloud in order toincrease its virtualization and avoid the cost of owning expensiveinfrastructure. IBM Bluemix can give DOE a framework on which todevelop different applications, although its flexibility is limitedcompared to IaaS platform. Microsoft Azure IaaS, on the other handgives the most appropriate option since it is highly scalable,flexible, reduces the cost of infrastructure ownership, andenvironmental pollution.


Cloudcomputing is among the latest technologies that seek to helporganizations reduce the cost increasing their virtualization.However, many organizations (including the government agencies) havenot realized the benefits of adopting cloud computing. The U.S.Department of Energy is one of the organizations that still believein the idea of buying all infrastructures (including thesupercomputers and datacenters) that it requires, instead ofutilizing the vendor resources.

MicrosoftAzure IaaS can help DOE increase its virtualization without the needto acquire expensive infrastructure. This platform facilitates thedeployments as well as the management of applications via a globalnetwork of datacenters owned by the Microsoft Corporation. Thisimplies that the virtualization hardware and other infrastructure isowned by the Microsoft Corporation, which the company responsible fortheir maintenance and replacement.

IBMBluemix refers to a PaaS platform that provides developers with aframework or model that they can use to develop differentapplications faster. It is a type of open source platform that isalso known as Cloud Foundry. The openness of the platform allows theorganization to expand the ecosystem of runtime servers andframeworks. Some of the key features of IBM Bluemix include BLU DataWarehouse, Data Cache, Session Cache, JSON Database, and Push amongothers. However, IBM Bluemix has a limited flexibility.

MicrosoftAzure IaaS is the most appropriate platform that can help DOE inenhancing its virtualization through cloud computing at a reducedcost. This is because Microsoft Azure IaaS is highly flexible,scalable, and help organizations avoid the cost of owning theinfrastructure and maintaining them. It will also help DOEs in goinggreen, which will be achieved by minimizing the energy consumed bydepartment’s owned datacenters


Objective:To compare cloud and non-cloud solutions and recommend the mostappropriate platform that will help DOE to adopt cloud computing.

Thesis:Microsoft Azure IaaS is the most appropriate solution that can helpDOE to adopt cloud computing, out of the three solutions, includingnon-cloud, Microsoft Azure IaaS, and IBM Bluemix platform.

  1. Cloud computing technology is a viable solution to the escalating cost of doing business in the contemporary economic environment.

  2. Cloud computing reduces the cost of facilitating computational operations in organizations because it is based on the concept of shared utility of computing resources (Department of Energy, 2014).

  1. Preview of the main points

  1. Datacenters and servers at DOE

  1. Since 1978, DOE has relied on its mainframe computers to store data and access it using for different purposes, including the analysis of millions of energy audits (Boscamp, 2011).

  2. Initially, DOE used mobile modems to access data to access the data from the data centers, before upgrading its system to dCache (Boscamp, 2011).

  3. The supercomputer system costs about 100 million dollars, runs on the Linux operating system, and has the capacity to perform approximately 360 teraflops (Morley, 2009).

  4. The OpenPower architecture server was bought at a cost of 325 million dollars and it was intended to support the department’s CORAL project for labs that are publicly funded (Brandon, 2014).

  1. Solution 1: Microsoft Azure IaaS

  1. The objectives of developing this platform was to facilitate the deployment and the management of applications as well as the delivery of cloud services via a global network of datacenters that are owned and managed by the Microsoft Corporation (Hauger, 2010).

  1. Solution 2: IBM Bluemix PaaS

  1. IBM Bluemix is delivered to clients on what on an open source platform known as Cloudy Foundry (Tomala-Reyes, 2014).

  2. IBM Bluemix has a limited flexibility that cannot be matched with the flexibility of IaaS.

  1. Recommendation

  1. Microsoft Azure IaaS is the appropriate solution for DOE because it has more benefits than the IBM Bluemix platform.

  2. Subscribing for Microsoft Azure IaaS will DOE the burden of purchasing expensive infrastructure for virtualization, hardware maintenance, replacement of old networking and datacenter equipment (Ebere-Wali, 2014).

  3. Microsoft Corporation updates the features of its IaaS to ensure that its users access the most powerful and the latest network and servers that address emerging needs of the organizations (Ebere-Wali, 2014).

  1. Conclusion

  1. IBM Bluemix can give DOE a framework on which to develop different applications, although its flexibility is limited compared to IaaS platform.


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