Oracle’s Ongoing Bid to Grow Its Public Sector Cloud Presence

FedRAMP recently expanded the list of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services approved for use by U.S. federal agencies.

When considering the cloud for data and computational purposes, a classic analogy is a company plugging into the power grid instead of generating its own power. With cloud-based computing, companies can take advantage of flexible, powerful IT infrastructure and tune their computing like a thermostat, increasing or decreasing their processing power as needed—as opposed to owning set high performance computing (HPC) infrastructure.

The public sector is increasingly investing in cloud-based services to improve IT infrastructure flexibility and move toward data interoperability. The flexible, Internet-based access to computational solutions can help public institutions access diverse IT resources and scale up their capacity as needed. Using cloud-based solutions, government agencies can avoid expensive and time-consuming investments in specific hardware and software products that will rapidly become outdated.

In 2011, the U.S. government established the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) to help agencies adopt cloud-based services. Recently, an expanded set of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) services received FedRAMP certification as highly secure applications approved for use by the U.S. government.

“These newly authorized cloud services expand Oracle’s suite of differentiated, highly secure, high-performing technology for government customers,” said Rand Waldron, vice president, Global Government Sector, Oracle in a release. “With these new tools, it will be even easier for government organizations to bring their most important systems to the cloud and take advantage of the unique efficiency, support and capability of Oracle to drive the success of their missions.”

As Oracle expands its suite of cloud services approved for government use, the company is looking to strengthen its role as a secure, reliable cloud provider for public sector clients. Interestingly, Oracle may be looking to use this status to also wrestle cloud dominance away from private companies.

FedRAMP: Accelerating U.S. Government Adoption of Cloud Services

The FedRAMP is a public-private partnership to accelerate the government’s adoption of cloud computing across U.S. institutions. The program uses the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidelines to provide a set of security standards for cloud services to receive approval. Achieving FedRAMP certification ensures that a cloud service has met stringent security requirements. The goal is to allow the government to gain the benefits of cloud-based computing without compromising federal data and classified material.

Approved cloud services are housed in the FedRAMP’s marketplace, where federal agencies can find cloud-based solutions for data management, analysis and more. Oracle, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and other major cloud computing services have also received FedRAMP approval for some solutions.

In addition to the approval process, the U.S. government has adopted a Cloud Smart strategy to encourage agencies to transition their existing services into the cloud and develop new services for cloud-based computing. With its cloud solutions marketplace, the U.S. government is looking to reduce IT costs, increase data interoperability, and scale up computational workloads through partnerships with some of the biggest companies offering cloud services.

The FedRAMP certification process. (Image courtesy of FedRAMP.)

The FedRAMP certification process. (Image courtesy of FedRAMP.)

OCI Expands Service Offerings with FedRAMP Approval

In 2020, the OCI Government Cloud Services obtained Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO) from the FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board. As part of the accreditation process, Oracle cloud services were reviewed by a third-party assessment organization along with representatives from U.S. federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. The initial FedRAMP P-ATO approval included several, but not all, of the OCI services.

In its recent announcement, Oracle shared an expanded set of OCI services that have received FedRAMP approval, including the company’s autonomous database for dedicated or shared infrastructure and its integration cloud services. Oracle aims to provide a suite of cloud-based services for U.S. government clients to assist with secure, efficient cloud-based computing.

Autonomous Database for Dedicated or Shared Infrastructure

Oracle announced its autonomous databases on either dedicated or shared infrastructure were part of the OCI services recently approved by FedRAMP. With dedicated infrastructure, companies can provision autonomous databases in a dedicated Exadata cloud system. Companies can access dedicated cloud services for data warehousing and transaction processing optimized for specific workloads. In contrast, the shared infrastructure allows companies to access an Exascale cloud and share it with other tenants. The benefit of the shared infrastructure is fast and straightforward database provisioning and automation of database management tasks.

Manage Security with Cloud Guard

The Oracle security feature also received FedRAMP approval to help U.S. government clients monitor cloud security. Cloud Guard detects insecure activity and reports it to security administrators to ensure that issues are quickly reviewed and resolved. The software also offers an option to automate the resolution of security issues to help scale security operations in the cloud.

Transition to the Cloud with OCI Integration Service

Oracle’s integration services make it easy to transition workloads to the cloud and support hybrid or multi-cloud operations. The infrastructure integration service helps automate end-to-end processes and centralize workload management. Its solution helps companies easily connect software as a service (SaaS), custom, and on-premises applications and can assist with the efficient migration of native data to the cloud. The tool is especially useful for government agencies looking to modernize existing IT infrastructure without any hassle.

Harvest Metadata from OCI and On-Premises Services with Data Catalog

The OCI Data Catalog helps data scientists browse, search and manage company-wide data assets, including both cloud-based and on-premises data sources. Companies can automatically harvest metadata across their entire organizations to improve data analytics and management. It provides another valuable tool for government agencies as they transition legacy systems to cloud-based operations.

In addition to the above services, Oracle received FedRAMP approval for the following: Infrastructure Logging, Service Connector Hub, Management Agent Cloud Service and OS management. This is along with the more than 30 other OCI services authorized in the past year.

OCI already supports U.S. government agencies, including sensitive, unclassified data for the Department of Defense and an isolated cloud service for classified data with the National Security Agency.

Oracle Cloud: Focused on the Public Sector?

Following its recent acquisition of electronic health records company Cerner, Oracle appears to be making significant investments in public sector clients. With the expansion of its cloud services approved by FedRAMP, Oracle is making it easier for U.S. government agencies to adopt the OCI ecosystem as they transition to cloud-based operations.

Several OCI services are also approved by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), operated by the Department of Defense. With certification by both governing bodies, Oracle is positioning its services as cloud products with leading security, a critical consideration for managing sensitive federal workloads.

Oracle’s move to grow its public sector presence doesn’t stop with the U.S. In early 2021, it was announced that Australian Data Centres (ADC) would deploy Oracle’s Dedicated Region Cloud@Customer to host cloud services for the Australian federal government. The service lets companies host a cloud region in a dedicated data centre facility and access all of Oracle’s cloud services. ADC, along with the Australian federal government, is located in Canberra, and the cloud will run workloads for sensitive data related to national security, health services and more. The dedicated region infrastructure helps governments gain the benefits of public cloud computing while also meeting data residency regulations. Oracle also operates cloud regions in the UK and the U.S. that similarly service government agencies.

A world map of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure data centers for commercial and government applications. (Image courtesy of Oracle.)

A world map of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure data centers for commercial and government applications. (Image courtesy of Oracle.)

Although OCI is not the only cloud platform used by the U.S. government, it appears that Oracle is making a serious bid to be a leading cloud provider for the public sector. With expansion into health care data interoperability with the Cerner merger and expanded FedRAMP approval, OCI services are being packaged as a security-first, cloud solution for public institutions. In 2022, Oracle looks to be extending its reach in the public sector, and it will be interesting to watch the company’s expansion across global governments over the next few years.