Thousands of Lotus Notes applications complicates GSA cloud migration


Streamlining of applications is often meant to be a major benefit of migration to the cloud, but the General Services Administration has allowed its offices in at least one case to replicate a duplicative Lotus environment in the cloud.

Each GSA component has developed its own inventory of Lotus Notes applications for decommissioning or migration to the cloud, and the GSA office of the chief information officer didn't perform an analysis on those applications to look for duplication, says the GSA office of inspector general in a report (.pdf) dated Sept. 28.

Auditors note that when GSA became the first agency in December 2010 to opt for a cloud-based email system, it faced rationalizing a Lotus Notes infrastructure spread across servers and databases housed at 17 different locations.

Over the years, GSA has accumulated thousands of Lotus applications on an office-by-office basis; one former GSA official, speaking on background, said many of those applications were developed with no central oversight, or even knowledge of their existence. That plethora of applications has been one reason why GSA long resisted updating its email system.

GSA now is in the process of decommissioning those applications or migrating them to a new platform, but the OCIO "did not establish sufficient controls to ensure that redundant applications were not migrated" to the cloud, auditors say.

"At least one redundant application" was migrated to the cloud (OCIO officials say the redundancy has since been "resolved") and "it is uncertain if others exist," auditors say.

GSA has since established a centralized review process that "will review every request to build an application," OCIO officials told auditors.

The audit also questions OCIO estimates that transitioning to the Google-based cloud could save $15 million over 5 years.  Auditors say they were unable to verify that number since the OCIO hasn't updated and maintained the cost analysis--and that OCIO officials couldn't provide documentation supporting its initial estimate of project savings. GSA officials said they couldn't do so because they were unable to find the documentation "due to staffing changes within the organization."

For more:
- download the report, A120131/O/F/F12004 (.pdf)

Related Articles:
GSA to consolidate IT responsibilities under CIO
Agencies plan to turn on cloud services, but not to turn off legacy systems
NIST: Cloud reliability, information security remain 'open issues'