NASA's shift to Web services model saving $1M a year

NASA's shift to a model that uses Amazon Web Services for cloud-based enterprise infrastructure is saving nearly $1 million a year, CIO Linda Cureton wrote in a recent blog entry on IT reform at the space and research agency.

“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,” Cureton wrote June 8 in a blog entry.

Cureton said the NASA IT community has been working the past year to implement IT reforms to better serve the agency’s mission and the public. Improved investment management practices, the use of cloud services when appropriate, and the use of shared services as a provider and consumer are core tenets of NASA’s Information Resource Management Strategic Plan released in June 2011, Cureton added.


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“Our use of cloud technologies has benefited NASA as well as the public,” she said. For example, to engage the public in space exploration, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory loaded 250,000 pictures of Mars into a Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform.

The “Be a Martian” initiative has been popular, serving more than 2.5 million data queries from crowdsourcing applications and proving that the cloud can be a good way to reach and engage the public and support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics activities in the nation’s schools, Cureton said.

Additionally, NASA is in the midst of deploying SERVIR, a project in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development, to a cloud-based geospatial IT infrastructure. “SERVIR integrates satellite and ground-based data with forecast models to monitor environmental changes and improve worldwide response to natural disasters,” Cureton said.

Finally, there is the shift to a new Web services model that uses Amazon Web Services for cloud-based enterprise infrastructure.

NASA was one of Amazon Web Services' first customers, and today the space agency is running several projects and mission-critical applications on AWS, Amazon officials said. For example, using AWS, NASA is exploring the far reaches of Mars with the Mars Rovers, processing lunar photos collected from the ATHLETE Robots, collecting greenhouse gas data from the depths of the Alaskan Arctic with its Carbon in the Arctic Reservoir Vulnerability Experiment program, and discovering black holes in the galactic center with the Deep Space Network, Amazon officials said.


About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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